purito sunscreen controversy

What Happened With the Purito Sunscreen Scandal and Alternatives to Consider

Last modified on December 20th, 2022

Purito Centella Sunscreen became one of the top-rated sunscreens, according to bloggers, skincare professionals, writers and more. However, there was a scandal with Purito sunscreen that had everyone wondering if they could trust any claims made by sunscreen companies.

We cover everything you need to know about Purito sunscreen, what happened with the scandal, and what you should know if you want to try a similar product (Purito isn’t available right now).

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What is Purito Sunscreen?

Purito Sunscreen is Korean sunscreen. Purito is a Korean skincare brand known for producing natural products. There are a few different versions of Purito sunscreen. There’s Centella Green Level Safe Sun, Centella Green Level Unscented Sun, and Comfy Water Sun Block.

The reason some people prefer Korean skincare brands for sunscreen is that they tend to be light in texture and not so heavy and oily.

The Purito Centella Green Level Safe Sun promised an SPF of 50+. The sunscreen theoretically had two UV filters, which were Uvinal A Plus and Uvinal T 150.

Uvinal A Plus is a product that filters UVA rays and may protect against skin damage and free radicals. It doesn’t have preservatives, and it may be effective at low concentrations. Uvinal T 150 is an absorber of ultraviolet light. It is a powder but it’s not approved for over-the-counter sunscreen products in the U.S.

With this in mind, Purito sunscreen got a big following because it included skincare ingredients, in addition to having sun protection. Purito had glycerin and hyaluronic acid, and users said they could easily layer the sunscreen with their makeup.

There was something called Centella Asiatica extract, which was included to help reduce pigmentation and wrinkles as well as general skin irritation. Asiatica extract is an antioxidant too. Vitamin E was included in the original formulation of Purito sunscreen and niacinamide too which is good for sensitive skin.

The original formulation of Purito Centella sunscreen included a lavender scent, and they released their Purito unscented sunscreen.

The Purito Comfy Water Sun Block was a mineral version with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide as the active ingredients.

There were so many glowing reviews for Purito sunscreen online. People said they loved it for the lightweight texture, the fact that it didn’t clog their pores like other sunscreens, and it less left of a white cast than other mineral sunscreens.

So what went wrong?

The Purito Sunscreen Scandal

While it was gaining popularity, people started reporting that they got sunburned while using Purito. Users started to say that they were reapplying often and using it as they were instructed and still suffering from burns.

Judit Racz, who is the founder of a blog called INCI Decoder, an ingredient glossary, sent samples of Purito’s products to an independent lab. She did two tests, one in-vivo and one in-vitro. The findings were shocking.

Purito sunscreen had an actual SPF of 19, while it was marketed as having an SPF50+.

In response, Purito released a statement via Instagram. They said the third-party manufacturer dropped the ball on testing. The company said they trusted the manufacturing company and moving forward, they’d be more careful about product development.

The INCI Decoder tests were replicated by two European labs that found the same results.

There was a ripple effect throughout Korean beauty companies. For example, popular brands like Klairs recalled their products in response to what happened with Purito Sunscreen.

People started worrying that all Korean beauty sunscreens were problematic, which is not necessarily the case.

The reality is that consumer groups frequently test all types of sunscreens, and in many cases, they have a lower SPF than their label indicates. For example, in 2016, 23 out of 60 tested sunscreens from the U.S. had less than half the SPF that was labeled.

In 2015, six Australian brands were tested, and only two met what was on their label.

The issue with Purito Centella sunscreen doesn’t highlight a fundamental issue with Korean beauty products or sunscreens. It highlights a fundamental problem with sunscreen in general.

It’s also only fair to mention that many have questioned the motives of the INCID Decoder blog because the founder is creating a new sunscreen.

After their initial Instagram response, Purito announced they would be doing in-vitro and in-vivo tests for all three of their sunscreens. They also said customers would be able to get a refund for the products, and they stopped selling them in the meantime.

Klairs, the other Korean beauty brand that pulled their products after the issue with Purito sunscreen, said that their formula was similar, and their products were manufactured in the same labs. Klaris suspended the sale of their sunscreen.

As of February 2021, Purito issued a new statement. Their independent tests didn’t reach SPF50. They said they ended their relationship with their manufacturer, and their plan is to create a new sunscreen with a new manufacturing partner. Purito says they will test the products in Korea and overseas before it becomes available.

Why Do People Love Korean Sunscreen?

All Korean beauty products are incredibly popular right now, including sunscreens. So what is it about these products that have people raving, and what did they love about Purito sunscreen?

Overall, American and western brands are heavier, and they are more suited toward outdoor use and use when you’re engaging in a lot of activity like swimming.

Asian sunscreens, including Purito are more lightweight and better-used every day, including when they’re layered with makeup and other skincare products.

I did some research, including on Reddit, and found that before the SPF scandal people loved Purito because it felt like a lightweight moisturizer, and it didn’t leave a greasy residue.

One reason that there could be some benefits in Korean sunscreen over American brands is that they can use more ingredients. In the U.S., sunscreens are a drug according to the FDA. They are tested for how well they can protect from UVB and UVA rays, and the chemicals used in them have to go through a formal drug approval process. Because of that, there hasn’t been a new sunscreen chemical approved since 1999 in the U.S.

In Korea, they can be more innovative with their sunscreens because they have a faster approval process.

The texture is another difference. In the U.S., it’s less expensive to create thicker sunscreens than to produce ones that are lightweight.

So, are there any alternatives if you want to use Korean sunscreen or sunscreen made in a similar way to an Asian product?

We did find a few Korean sunscreen brands that have great user reviews and could be an alternative if you liked Purito.

What Do PA+, PA++, and PA+++ Mean?

One thing you might see if you’re shopping for an Asian or Korean-specific sunscreen is something called PA+, PA++, or PA+++. This is a Japanese measurement that’s widely used now. It’s based on something called the Persistent Pigment Darkening reaction reading at two to four hours of sun exposure.

Persistent Pigment Darkening tests use UVA radiation to cause a persistent darkening of the skin, which is tanning.

PPD is based on different people who are exposed to UVA light. The test subjects are analyzed based on how long it takes them to tan. Then, the results are compared between protected and unprotected skin.

A protective sunscreen will have PA labeling, and more plus signs mean more protection from UVA rays.

According to the Japanese Cosmetic Industry Association, the grading systems mean the following:

  • PA+ indicates sunscreen can provide UVA protection with a factor of Persistent Pigment Darkening (PPD) between two and four. It protects from medium UV radiation.
  • PA++ means moderate protection from UVA rays with a PPD factor between four and eight. In simpler terms, if you have normal skin, you might have protection from medium UV radiation.
  • Then, there’s PA+++ that provides PPD protection with a factor of more than eight, and it’s the strongest UVA protection currently available.

Purito Sunscreen Alternative #1:

Soft Finish Sun Milk from Missha

A great Purito Centella sunscreen alternative is the Soft Finish Sun Milk from Missha.

  • SPF50+
  • PA+++
  • Powerful sun protection
  • Can be used daily without oily residue
  • Double-layer UV blocking system
  • Silky, porous powder
  • Corrects skin tone and texture

The Soft Finish Sun Milk from Missha is a really interesting option if you’re interested in Korean sunscreen. It is a powder-base and it corrects your skin tone and texture, so it’s like sunscreen and a cosmetic product.

The low-viscosity fluid makes it comfortable and smooth to apply and your skin will look radiant and fresh when you have it on.

This sunscreen is actually meant to be the last step of your skincare process in the morning. You shake it lightly before you use it, and then put a bit onto your face and any other area you want protection. A pea-sized amount should be enough to cover your face and neck fully.

Sun Milk from Missha has great customer reviews. Users say that it keeps their face matte, and it doesn’t give them any greasy feeling. If you have acne-prone skin or very oily skin, this might be a good Korean sunscreen for you to try.

With that in mind, this Korean sunscreen might not be the best option for you if you have very dry skin, according to customer reviews. You might also avoid it if you have darker skin because, for some people, it leaves a bluish-white cast, although we only saw this mentioned a few times in reviews.

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Image Source: Amazon

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Purito Sunscreen Alternative #2:

A’PIEU Pure Block Natural Sun Cream

  • Top-rated on Amazon
  • Waterproof
  • No stickiness
  • Inexpensive
  • SPA50
  • PA+++
  • Soothing with natural aloe vera

The A’PIEU Pure Block Natural Sun Cream is a favorite among users. It has great reviews, and it’s a lightweight sunscreen that’s also waterproof and has strong UV protection.

This formulation includes aloe vera leaf extract and berry blossom complex to brighten and moisturize your skin.

A lot of users say the A’PIEU Sun Cream is wonderful if you have sensitive skin. It can work well if you have dry or oily skin, as well as combination skin. Most users say they don’t get any oily feeling, nor do they get residue or white streaks. There were also customer reviews that said they get a dewy finish with A’PIEU Sun Cream.

The only warning we would provide about this Korean-style sunscreen is that one user did say it isn’t compatible with retinol. It could cause stinging or burning.

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Purito Sunscreen Alternative #3:

Jaxon Lane Rain or Shine Anti-Aging Face Sunscreen

We like this sunscreen with green tea for a few different reasons.

  • SPF50+
  • PA+++
  • Fragrance-free
  • Broad-spectrum
  • Includes ginseng root, which is an antioxidant
  • Gentle and non-irritating

There are a lot of great ingredients in the Jaxon Lane Rain or Shine Daily Moisturizing sunscreen, and it offers full sun protection. It includes green tea, which can help with acne and unclog pores. It also includes ginseng which is an antioxidant that may help improve your skin’s elasticity and reduce signs of aging.

It includes licorice root powder which helps even out skin tone and reduces hyperpigmentation.

This sunscreen is marketed as being great for men and women.

According to customer reviews, some of the benefits of the Rain or Shine sunscreen include the fact that it isn’t greasy and absorbs fast with no white film. Users say it’s lightweight and doesn’t have any smells.

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Image Source: Amazon

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Purito Sunscreen Alternative #4:

Etude House Sunprise Airy Finish Sun Milk

  • Thousands of positive Amazon reviews
  • Has a light and airy finish
  • Completely mineral-based
  • SPF50
  • PA+++
  • Contains plant-based ingredients like acai berry

The Etude House Sunprise sunscreen was the highest-rated and had the most reviews of any of the sunscreens we looked at as Purito alternatives. We like that it’s a mild, completely mineral-based sunscreen that works for sensitive skin. It also has plant-based ingredients that not only protect your skin but help it to be as healthy and luminous as possible.

For example, it contains acai berry for vitality and aloe vera for hydration.

According to customer reviews, it’s not sticky and is good for sensitive skin. Most users say they didn’t get a white cast from it, and it has a nice, lightweight finish.

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Purito Sunscreen Alternative #5:

COSRX Aloe Soothing Sun Cream

This Purito sunscreen alternative is a good option for sensitive skin.

  • Similar to a light moisturizer, so it can work well for dry skin
  • Aloe leaf extract moisturizes and soothes
  • Absorbs quickly
  • Shouldn’t leave a white cast
  • SPF50
  • PA+++

The COSRX Aloe Soothing Sun Cream is another top-rated option in terms of customer reviews. It might be a better option than some of the above Korean sunscreens if you have dry skin because it’s more moisturizing without being oily.

Users say it works if you have dark skin because it doesn’t create an ashy appearance.

Users say they like that they don’t get any burning or stinging, and the product doesn’t flake off at all.

The one thing to be aware of is that it might not be the best option for you if you have very oily skin, based on customer reviews.

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Image Source: Amazon

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Final Thoughts—The Purito Centella Sunscreen Issue

If you were wondering what happened with Purito sunscreen, now you know. The brand earned tons of accolades, especially from influencers. However independent testing did reveal that while it offered sun protection, it didn’t have as much as was advertised.

While that left many people feeling pretty upset, it’s actually a common occurrence with sunscreens, unfortunately.

While Purito works on a new formulation with a different manufacturer, the above options are similar in some ways and might fill the need you have for Korean sunscreen.





After the Purito Sunscreen Scandal, Can We Still Trust SPF Ratings?

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