Is Klairs Soft Airy UV Essence SPF 50 The Best Sunscreen?

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For the longest time, I’ve had the hardest time finding the perfect sunscreen. It has been like searching for the proverbial ‘holy grail’. Or should I say, I was Goldilocks looking for the one that was just right! (I’m sure all skincare enthusiasts have had one or two Goldilocks moment in their lifetime.)

If you’ve read my previous post about what I consider when choosing a sunscreen, then you’ll know that I’m a bit picky when it comes to my facial sunscreen. I’ve tried many and most were a huge disappointment. If I wasn’t resembling Casper, the friendly ghost, my face was either itchy, breaking out or looking so oily, my forehead glow could be seen a mile away. Lol, I know, my humor is appalling.

Anyway, after getting into Korean beauty and inadvertently, the wonderful world of Asian sunscreens, I stumbled onto this gem from Klairs. The name alone, Klairs Soft Airy UV Essence, was unique enough to pique my interest. I actually purchased it immediately after it launched. Was it worth it?

So, who is Klairs?

I remember first hearing about Klairs through Wishtrend on Youtube. Those were the days I was first learning about Korean skincare and I was very intrigued since the brand was saying all the right things in terms of what I was looking for.

Klairs is a cosmetic brand from Korea founded in 2010 with a simple, clear and effective message: they are respectful of the beauty of the environment. They are vegan, cruelty-free and their products are not tested on animals.

Their motto, if you will, is: Simple but enough. Basic but ultimate. Mild but powerful.

The brand is geared towards sensitive skin and claims to not use any harsh ingredients. Their products are simple and contain only the most necessary, high quality ingredients (NO colorants, NO alcohol, NO parabens, NO artificial fragrances/fragrance free).

It is a highly raved about brand and almost everyone has only good things to say about their products. They make everything from cleansers, toners, serums, moisturizers to the sunscreen that we’re going to discuss below. I have tried a couple and spoiler alert: I love them.

Anyway, let’s get on with the review!

Image of Klairs Soft Airy UV Essence SPF 50
Claims

The Klairs Soft Airy UV Essence SPF 50 PA++++ is an everyday sun protector for sensitive skin. It is a water-based sunscreen that is non-sticky, light, and fresh with a soft, weightless finish. Also with its high SPF and PA level, it completely guards the skin against UVA and UVB rays without leaving any greasiness or white cast.

It contains ingredients that helps to brighten, hydrate, and protect.

It is recommended for all skin types including sensitive skin, those who want a light, non-sticky sunscreen and those who do not want a white cast.

The science

It is a water based sunscreen with the second ingredient being dicaprylyl carbonate. According to Paula’s Choice, this is a skin conditioning agent, emollient and solvent. It spreads easily with a silky silicone-like glide minus the silicone type film that you’d get with an actual silicone product. It has an overall very good safety profile with all ingredients being EWG green level approved.

The UV filters used are DHHB (Uvinul A Plus), a photostable UVA filter, and Ethylhexyl triazone (Uvinul T 150), which protects against UVB. These are chemical or organic filters making this a chemical sunscreen. It has an SPF of 50 with a rating of PA++++.

The key ingredients in this sunscreen include:

Niacinamide, a form of vitamin B3, is a powerful antioxidant and skin brightening agent that helps to even the overall skin tone. It enhances skin barrier function and can also help the appearance of pores and balance sebum production thus improving acne and blemishes.

Adenosine, a yeast derived ingredient, when used in skincare, functions as a skin-restoring, soothing agent. It is also anti-aging making the skin appear smoother over time.

Panthenol helps cellular renewal and is a natural humectant; Beta-Glucan helps stimulate the production of collagen, speeds up wound healing, soothes and calms skin due to its anti-irritant and strong anti-inflammatory properties and moisturizes; Allantoin is known for healing, soothing and softening skin. These three all help to soothe and relieve skin irritations.

Sea Buckthorn Oil (Hippophae Rhamnoides or Vitamin Tree Oil) helps to supply the skin with moisture. Sea buckthorn has lots of antioxidants including lycopene and carotenoids.

It is alcohol-free so it’s a cause for celebration for those like me who have dehydrated skin or if you have any skin type that can’t tolerate alcohol.

Bad news is, if you have any sensitivities, it has some *essential oils (chamomile flower oil and orange oil) that may irritate very sensitive skin. However, these have some good properties: Anthemis nobilis flower oil (chamomile) is an anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antibiotic and is used in many skin care products.  Citrus aurantium dulcis oil (sweet orange) is an astringent and anti-bacterial oil and is not photo-toxic. Thankfully, as you will see below, it didn’t bother my skin at all.

The full ingredient list from website:

Water (Aqua), Dicaprylyl Carbonate, Butylene Glycol, Dibutyl Adipate, Diethylamino Hydroxybenzoyl Hexyl Benzoate(DHHB), Hydrogenated Polyisobutene, 1,2-Hexanediol, Glycerin, Niacinamide, Ethylhexyl Triazone, Polyglyceryl-3 Methylglucose Distearate, Silica, Cetearyl Olivate, Cetearyl Alcohol, Sorbitan Olivate, Glyceryl Stearate SE, Methyl Glucose Sesquistearate, Sorbitan Stearate, Panthenol, Beta-Glucan, Disodium EDTA, Citrus Junos Fruit Extract, Adenosine, Sodium Hyaluronate, *Anthemis Nobilis Flower Oil, Hippophae Rhamnoides Oil, Caprylyl Glycol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Tocopherol, Allantoin, *Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Oil

Packaging | Appearance | Texture | Scent

Let me start off by saying I love the packaging! It’s white, minimalist and like the other products in the Freshly Juiced line, it has a holographic design on the front that is so much fun to play with.

Don’t believe how beautiful it is? Check out this photo I took or this video to see it in action!

Image of Klairs Freshly Juiced Vitamin Drops and Klairs Soft Airy UV Essence

The sunscreen itself is housed in a large, soft, squeeze tube with a small nozzle tip (perfect for controlling how much product you dispense) and a silver twist-off cap. At 80ml / 2.7fl.oz, it is one of the more generous offerings on the market compared to the usual 50ml tubes. It is definitely travel friendly but just make sure it’s fully closed so you don’t accidentally squeeze out product.

According to Wishtrend, the original color of Klairs Soft Airy UV Essence has a slight yellowish hue. This is not discoloration. I can attest to the fact that this has an off-white color in natural sunlight but may appear white in harsh artificial light.

It has a gel-cream type texture that leans more towards a light, creamy consistency. When squeezed out of the tube to the back of the hand, it doesn’t run down immediately which is is typically what you expect to happen with more common “essences”. So this sunscreen, rather than being a true essence, I would say it has the ‘spirit’ of an essence, in that it is light and airy but still hydrating.

Since it has no added fragrance, it has this light, almost chemical scent that comes naturally from the ingredients. It dissipates fairly quickly upon application so that’s a plus.

First impressions

This is a chemical sunscreen that needs to be applied 15 minutes before going outside or exposing your skin to the sun and should be the last step in your skincare routine. Upon my first application, I went in with about a 1/4 teaspoon amount (measured by eye, lol). I wanted to see how it performed on very little skincare as a base in terms of hydration vs when I’ve gone all in with my skincare, to see how well it played with my heavy duty serums and moisturizers.

The first day, I only applied a gentle swipe of the Cosrx AHA/BHA Clarifying Treatment Toner followed by my favorite serum of all time, the Innisfree Green Tea Seed Serum then an eyecream (I forgot which one). Without applying any moisturizer (I know, the horror!) I went in with the sunscreen, not being shy about the amount.

It was pretty smooth and easy to apply. At first, you think it won’t sink in but then it absorbs very quickly, leaving an imperceptible, satin to semi-matte finish. Yes, contrary to my expectations, this isn’t one of those glowy, dewy sunscreens. I was surprised but in a very good way. It felt like I’d applied nothing!

My skin felt hydrated but not overly so. It was smooth to the touch but had that healthy, lit from within glow. As the day went on, I didn’t get oily like I usually do. Reapplying the sunscreen didn’t make it dewier but then again, this is bit of a moot point because I lightly rinse my face before reapplying sunscreen anyway. (more on this later and why you should too if you don’t wear makeup!) I reapplied twice. Yay me!

On the second day, I went in with my more moisturizing products. My Cosrx toner then Cosrx Galactomyces 95 Tone Balancing Essence, Sulwhasoo Essential Balancing Emulsion Ex (love, love, love this!) then the entire line of Saturday skin (reviewed here) from mist, eye cream to moisturizer, before applying the UV essence.

Again, very smooth, it glided on to the skin easily and while it took a few seconds longer to absorb, it sunk in really well. There was no pilling whatsoever and still felt very lightweight, although I could tell there was a light layer of something on my face, likely due to all the skincare layers. After 10 minutes though, that feeling was totally gone. Amazing!

Did I get oily throughout the day? Actually no, but I did get that healthy dewy skin look at the very end of the day and I must say, I wasn’t mad about it. This came after reapplying twice again. It’s safe to say, first impressions were very good.

Personal experience

Now, I know what you’re all wondering: how did it continue to fair on? I’ve used the Klairs suncreen for a year now and I’m well acquainted with it. I think I’ll put this in a slightly different format, addressing my most pertinent issues when it comes to most sunscreens.

  1. Since this is a chemical sunscreen (with some essential oils), were there any sensitivities, skin irritations or redness? No! Not very surprised because it is a sunscreen made for sensitive skin. I’m sure there are lots of people sensitive skin who would benefit from some ingredients being omitted (like those allergic to essential oils) but I have very sensitive skin and it has been pretty happy with this sunscreen. I usually experience a bit of itching on my upper lip/mustache area (I have eczema there) from many chemical sunscreens but nothing at all with this one! I even apply it around my eyes with no issues whatsoever.
  2. Did I break out from the sunscreen? I’m always breaking out with hormonal, cystic acne here and there every month but there was no increase or decrease in my breakouts while using this product.
  3. Sunscreens helps decrease or prevent hyper-pigmentation. Did it help mine? Yes! Disclaimer though, consistent use of ANY good non-irritating sunscreen with the right kind of filters, bearing in mind correct application technique and reapplication throughout the day, should improve or lighten Post Inflammatory Hyper-pigmentation (PIH) over time.
  4. Does the sunscreen make you oily/greasy/shiny? Nope! I have very oily skin and I can safely say this is a very oily-skin friendly sunscreen. It leaves a matte to satin finish depending on what skin care products you have underneath.
  5. Is it truly for all skin types? I would say yes but if you are on the extremes of both spectrum, you might have to make it work for you. Very oily skin types might find it to be too rich or hydrating especially in hotter weather while very dry skin types will find it not hydrating enough especially in winter time.
  6. How does it work with makeup, particularly foundation? Sadly, I can’t personally give you my opinion on this because I don’t wear makeup but I’ve heard only good things so far! I will link a trustworthy review for you here.
  7. Does it separate after having the tube open for a few months? No. I haven’t personally experienced this nor heard about it. (It is a larger amount of sunscreen so some people are curious.) I had an opened tube that i never finished and a year later, when I found it, it was still the same: no change in texture, smell, color or consistency. Go Klairs!
  8. Weather considerations? I think this will work well in all weathers and seasons. It might be a tad bit too hydrating in those very humid, hot summer days especially if you like or are used to those light, watery or milky sunscreens but it’s not a deal breaker. See point no.5 above.
  9. Is it Person of Color or POC-friendly? Yes! This has no white cast nor does it give any sort of grey/purple/ashy hue so all skin tones can enjoy this.
  10. Is it easy to remove or wash off? Yes. I find it easily dissolves with a cleansing balm, oil or even micellar water.
Overall thoughts

If you can’t tell already, I’m in love with the Klairs Soft Airy UV Essence SPF 50. I’m happy I bought it and hopefully will continue repurchasing. Have you tried it yet? Did you like it? What is your favorite sunscreen?

For me, having the right formulation that is comfortable to wear, combined with high, broad-spectrum UV protection is a must in my facial sunscreen. The Klairs one is very hydrating, non-irritating, blends smoothly, absorbs and dries down quickly and leaves no white cast.

It’s also budget-friendly retailing for $23 on Wishtrend for 80ml/2.7fl/oz.

It ticks all the boxes for my ideal sunscreen so I give it a solid 9.5/10 or 4.9-star rating. If you’re not sensitive to any of the ingredients, I highly recommend it. This Klairs Soft Airy UV Essence might just be the perfect everyday sunscreen!

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