Everything about Sunscreen!

When I was young, my mom used to put thick layer of sunscreen wherever I went and I hated it. <(`^´)> It made my face unnaturally white, and that super uncomfortable oily feeling on my skin was not my favorite. Now I know, as a biochemist, I realize she did the right thing. It does prevent skin cancer and furthermore prevents fine line and pigmentation. Today, I will talk a little further about the core of Asian beauty – sun block.

What is sunscreen?

Generally, we can roughly divided sunscreen into 3 different types.


Type 1: Physical sunscreen

So, physical sunscreen veils your skin with thin layer of mineral particles so it makes sunlight be reflected from your skin rather than absorbed. Representative ingredient can be zinc oxide and titanium oxide. Since it is not absorbed into your skin, it does not stimulate skin much so it can be used on sensitive skin or baby skin. But at the same time, it can be a little uncomfortable since the mineral layer remains on the top of your skin. The biggest problem of physical sunscreen is white cast, and you generally need oil type cleanser to completely remove physical sunscreen.

 P.S. There are number of researches prove that titanium oxide can be problematic for acne prone skin. ( ̄ε(# ̄)︴

chemical sunscreen

Type 2: Chemical Sunscreen

Instead of using mineral coating, chemical sunscreen use carbon based molecules.  Chemical sunscreens use a little more complicated mechanism. The chemical molecules work as a barrier as well but when they got attacked by UV, they undergo exothermic reaction (releasing heat to the environment.) So these chemical molecules undergo reaction instead of your skin cells. (Great sacrifice!) Oxybenzone , Avobenzone or many other molecules can be used as chemical sun filter. They are generally colorless and have watery / refreshing texture than physical sunscreen so it is widely used “oil-free” sunscreens. They can be refreshing but may irritate skin as well. So you have to try before you buy any. ㄟ(≧◇≦)ㄏ

Type 3: Mixture of 1 & 2

Nowadays almost all companies try to mix these physical / chemical filters to maximize sun protection and minimize the feeling of uncomfortable.

Then what is SPF and what is PA?


Sun Protection Factor refers to the time that sunscreen can protect your skin from UV B. Everyone has different threshold time until you got burn without sunscreen. So, SPF X means you can stay X times longer under the sun with the given sunscreen. So for example, if your skin’s threshold is 10 min and you wear sunscreen with SPF30, you can stay under the sun for 300 min without get burned. (I am not saying you have to find out your burning threshold time. It is generally 10 to 20 min.) So it does not mean a sunscreen with SPF50 blocks UV B than a sunscreen with SPF30.

PA (protection grade of UVA) is a relatively new concept, and it shows that how well the sunscreen protects you from UVA. (UVA up-regulates the MMP that degrade elastin and collagen, meaning you will lose firmness and gain wrinkle if you got exposed. Scarrrrrrrrrryyyyyyyyyyyyo(╯□╰)o). Since there is no standardized system to measure PA or (PPD for European cosmetics), I won’t mention it precisely here but more + after PAor higher number of PPD means better protection against UVA.



Code 9 UV defense long lasting protector SPF 50+ / PA +++

The texture of water capsule in the base is very interesting. It tones up your skin and makes your skin glows. If you like dewy skin, this sunscreen is recommended under your primer.


Leaders Aqua Sun Liquid SPF 50 / PA +++

It has very refreshing and non-sticky texture, so good for oily skin in summer. It does not leave much white cast, so if you like natural skin, Leaders Aqua Sun Liquid may be a good choice.

too cool for school

Too cool For School Jean George Llong  SPF 50 / PA +++

Too Cool for School’s Jean George LLong has non-sticky, fast absorbing texture as well. It has slight ivory color, so you may use and skip the make-up base or CC cream.


Skinfood Tomato Sun cream SPF 36 / PA ++

It has very matt texture. Interestingly, this sunscreen has very natural white cast, some Korean bloggers use this as “natural bare skin make up(안색크림).”



Latha, M. S., Martis, J., Shobha, V., Sham Shinde, R., Bangera, S., Krishnankutty, B., … Naveen Kumar, B. R. (2013). Sunscreening Agents: A Review. The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology6(1), 16–26.

Hayden CG, Cross SE, Anderson C, Saunders NA, Roberts MS

Skin Pharmacol Physiol. 2005 Jul-Aug; 18(4):170-4.

Marionnet C, Grether-Beck S, Seité S, et al. A broad-spectrum sunscreen prevents UVA radiation-induced gene expression in reconstructed skin in vitro and in human skin in vivo. Exp Dermatol.

Top 5 ! Must Buy Skincare Items before Summer

Hello Friends. The weather is getting warmer and warmer. And soon, summer will be here with us. The good news is that our skins won’t be dried up as before but our pores will be filled up with sebum and impurities in a much faster phase than ever before. So we should diligently clarify pores, protect our skins from the sun and soothe/hydrate nicely. So, we has carefully selected 5 best K-beauty items for your flawlessly glowing skin.

1.     Oxygen Aha bubble peeling mask

AHA/BHA complex gently removes dead skin layer and plentiful bubbles clarify sebum accumulation in pores. Cocamidopropyl Betaine was used as a surfactant instead of Sodium Laureth Sulfate, so it can be used on sensitive skin as well. Bubbles are formed when you wear the mask, and you should wash your face with warm water after your mask sheet session is done.

2.     Leaders Pore-scaling Black Aqua

This black sheet mask contains volcanic ashes and Quercus phillyraeoides and they effectively cleanse excessive oil and other impurities. Portulaca Oleracea Extract was used as a soothing agent and active ingredients such as adenosine and niacinamide brighten your skin while delaying skin aging process.

3.     Botanic Farm – Dot Art Collection CC Cushion

Botanic Farm Dot Art Collection CC cushion is a very good sun screen (SPF 50+, PA+++) and very lightly, watery textured CC cream. It gives your skin natural and dewy glow while not making your make up thick. Even though it does not cover pigmentations on your skin, it provides nicely correct your skin tone for different skin type. (Pink for pale skin / green for acne skin and purple for tired skin.) They have BB cushion version of this pact as well for better covering function with same texture and SPF.

4.     Llang Natural Foaming Cleanser

This red-ginseng based foaming cleanser gently and perfectly removes make up, dirt and other skin impurities without leaving oily texture on your skin. It feels really soft because of the creamy bubbles and it will make your skin soft and refreshed after you wash your face. Since Llang is a cosmetic brand made by Korean Ginseng Corporation, it contains red ginseng extract, red ginseng oil and saponin.

5.     NEOGEN Code 9 UV defense

Code 9 UV defense is a non-sticky, water-based sun screen. This sun screen is colorless/light weighted so it is good to use under the make-up and capsulated moisturizers soothe your skin before the foundation or BB cream.

I am also on Reddit and /r/asianbeauty !

Leaders Insolution Moisturizing Recovery Mask


As far as I remember (I guess it was around 8~9 years ago,) the company called Genic introduced the first hydrogel mask to the Korean market. It was a splendid debut – they still hold the record for “the most selling single item in all home shopping channel.” But other cosmetic companies began to introduce the same type of hydrogel masks, and the hydrogel is not a new type of mask sheet material anymore. But the ongoing journey of finding a new material of Korean companies brought us a new generation hydrogel again – fermented coconut gel.


First Impression

Just like the other gel-type masks, Leaders Insolution Moisturizing Recovery Mask is contained in an individual package. Two protection sheets are attached to the coconut jelly to prevent coagulation of this sophisticated sheet. (Seriously, remember this. I heard many people use this mask as the protection sheet is still attached one side.)



Definitely, IT IS DIFFERENT from regular hydrogel mask. It almost feels like putting fascia on your skin (Do you know the thin and half transparent, membrane-like thing when you prepare chicken? That’s fascia, •﹏•. The texture is much smoother and recognizably lighter than the other gel-type masks. So it has a much better affinity to skin, and you can freely move while doing this sheet mask session. It also contains a generous amount of serum and interestingly, you can pour this serum on the top of the gel because the coconut jelly easily sucks up the serum and efficiently delivers it to your skin. The serum is neither sticky nor water-like. You can check out the video for this.

Ingredient Check

I could not see especially detrimental ingredients in this mask. Methylpropanediol and butylene glycol are relatively safe penetration enhancers and emollients. They used glycerin as a main moisturizing agent and added betaine as a subordinate agent. (Betaine is a commonly used moisturizing agent in organic/natural cosmetics, generally extracted from sugar cane.) Witch Hazel water is used as an astringent. Chamomilla Recutita Flower Extract (Chamomile Extract) – a known anti-inflammatory/antioxidant – was added as the 5th ingredient. I won’t mention about additional plant extracts since they are only contained traceable amount and the pharmacological mechanism is unclear. I could see many single amino acids on the inactive ingredient list, and I don’t know why. (Probably they thought amino acids can be used to restore the skin layer but I do not agree with them.)



I think coconut jelly is an extraordinary material to make a gel-type mask. It adheres much better than other gel masks, and it delivers serum to your skin very efficiently (you can even add more serum on the top of this masks). Because of the active ingredient Witch Hazel, it definitely feels less sticky on skin without using alcohol family in the principal components. (Remember this, alcohol is a funny guy.╮(╯3╰)╭ It makes your skin really feel fresh, but it can be an irritant for some people.) It made my skin refreshed and moisturized without making the skin overly sticky. (The anti-wrinkle mask from same product line is a bit too sticky to go to sleep or right away or to put the make-up on right away.) It is a premium mask for sure and worth to try. But at the same time, I am not sure I will use this mask routinely because of its relatively high price. ($6)


1 line Review


Pros: It adheres like glue on your skin. You can keep adding serum on the top of the gel. (Definitely plus)

Cons: A little too expensive, and complicated ingredient list

Idea: A premium coconut jelly mask for the people with hyperactivity when they wear a gel mask.


Mckay, Diane L.; Blumberg, JB (July 2006). “A review of the bioactivity and potential health benefits of chamomile tea (Matricaria recutita L.)”. Phytother Res. 20(7): 519–30. doi:10.1002/ptr.1900PMID 16628544.

Charousaei F, Dabirian A, Mojab F. (2011). “Using chamomile solution or a 1% topical hydrocortisone ointment in the management of peristomal skin lesions in colostomy patients: results of a controlled clinical study.” Ostomy Wound Manage 57 (5): 28–36.

I am also on Reddit and /r/asianbeauty

Leaders First Ampoule Mask



It is the era of sheet masks. K-beauty enthusiasts eagerly look for more moisturizing, visibly enhancing sheet masks everywhere and many companies brought up sheet masks with different textures (cellulose, cotton, and hydrogel) and “fascinating” active ingredients (snail, collagen, peptides, placenta and even horse fat.) But as we all know, cosmetic companies has been plagiarizing each other we have similar types of sheet masks regardless of brands. I mean, aren’t you getting bored with sameo snail hydrogel masks or Hyaluronic acid moisturizing masks?


Finally, I got to try the hottest “it mask” in China and Korea – Leaders First Ampoule Mask-Mela Tox. And let’s see how it is.

╭(′▽‵)╭(′▽‵)╭(′▽‵)╯ LET’S GO!


First impression

The sheet is sealed in the brown, transparent test tube (that’s the reason why many Korean beauty bloggers call this as Test tube mask). The tube contains a generous amount of serum, and the sheet is soaked into it. If you tilt off the cap, you can see a piece of very thin (but durable) sheet that is rolled in a thin plastic bar. I couldn’t smell something recognizable, but it has a recognizable sweet/acidic odors. I guess they are from the ingredients.



Since this mask is rolled and soaked in the serum bottle, it is hard to open it up and put it on the face. HOWEVER, it adheres to the skin VERY VERY well. As you can see from the photo below, (Ewwww.. sorry for my face ╯▂╰), it doesn’t leave much room between the sheet and the skin. It feels much more comfortable than most of the hydrogel mask because it is very thin but I don’t think you can walk around with this on your face because it has plenty of serum on the sheet.


Even after you pull out the sheet, lots of serum still remained in the tube. So you can constantly apply those serums on the top of sheet mask (Blogger said that you can leave it and use it as a facial serum later, but I decided to use it all for my precious skin tonight.)


Ingredient Analysis

(If you don’t want to hear about organic chemistry of this sheet, you can simply pass this section 0^◇^0)/)

They used evening primrose extract as a base instead of water, which is a proven anti-inflammatorysoothing emollientNiacinamide is the fourth ingredient after solvents, intensifying the brightening effect. I don’t think this cosmetic contains especially harmful ingredients. Most of the solvents and emollients are commonly used chemicals. Alpha bisabolol is added for the last constituents. The company claims that this ingredient promotes skin brightening, but I could not find reliable literature about this statement so I won’t mention it in this blog. (However, alpha-bisabolol is a known antioxidant for sure.)


After thought

Standing Ovation for LeadersThey successfully developed a new type of mask sheet that works. After the mask, I could feel my face was very moisturized, and it gave my skin a natural glow. I don’t know about the brightening (Seriously, after one mask no one expects to become Snow White, right?), but it surely does its job (For the moisturizing result, I will give 6 stars if I can). It was absorbed really well and even in the next morning, I could feel my skin was soft.

ヽ(^。^)ノ* ヽ(^。^)ノ

1 line Review


PROS: A generous amount of serum that we can apply on the top of the mask, Lovely.

CONS: it’s kinda inconvenient to open the mask since it is rolled in a plastic bar

IDEA: Yay, I found one mask sheet to my skincare routine.

Ask Randy a question or comment about Leaders First Ampoule Mask.

 I am also on Reddit and /r/asianbeauty!