I Tested 3 Centella-Based Sunscreens on a Hike in the Desert — Here’s What I Found
Because when you’re hot and sticky, the last thing you want to feel is a hot and sticky sunscreen. How three centella sunscreens from COSRX, Missha, and Purito fared in the desert.
I spend a lot of time outdoors. I also live in the desert. On any given weekend you’ll find me trekking deep into a canyon, surrounded by giant saguaro cacti and countless hidden rattlesnakes. You may even mistake me for a female version of the late Steve Irwin, because desert-colored gear is the name of the game.
My outdoor activities aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, but they make me happy and keep me sane. It also spells disaster for my skin. The air is so dry that it sucks every drop of moisture from your skin. The sun actually kills. There are unseen creatures that scuttle under my boots and wait behind rocks to strike. Temperatures rise hot enough to fry an egg on the sidewalk, and it’s common to while away hours at the pool even in winter.
Drama aside, I’m a K-beauty aficionado. I make sure that I’ve always got the latest products on hand to help me battle the almighty sun. They’re my saving grace, and the reason that I don’t look like a withered prune.
We’ve seen many different ingredients trending over the last couple of years. There’s been the snail mucin, the green tea extract, the propolis, the goat’s milk, the horse oil, and the collagen. One that has stood out for me is the good old cica, or Centella asiatica.
It’s been used around the world for centuries and is known as gotu kola in Chinese medicine, pennywort in the UK, and mandukaparni in Indian Ayurvedic medicine. It’s known for its calming, soothing, and moisturizing effects, and helps to facilitate faster healing while increasing circulation.
I’m not new to centella. It makes a daily appearance in my serum (Purito Centella Green Level Buffet Serum), my day cream (Dr. Jart+ Cicapair Tiger Grass Color Correcting Treatment), and the never-ending stream of sheet masks that grace my face. So when I had the opportunity to sample three new sunscreens where Centella asiatica is one of the key ingredients, I knew my skin would be more than accommodating to this calming ingredient.
COSRX Shield Fit All Green Comfort Sun
First up is the Shield Fit All Green Comfort Sun from COSRX. It comes in a SPF of 50+/PA++++ in a small light green tube of 35ml. It’s been formulated with EWG all green ingredients and claims to comfort the skin while providing protection from both UVA and UVB rays with physical UV blockers zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.
In case you’ve forgotten, UVA are the rays that cause wrinkles, freckles, and discoloration. The PA+ grade indicates the protection grade from UVA rays. On the other hand, UVB rays cause redness and sunburn, and it’s up to SPF (or Sun Protection Factor) to battle those demons.
This sunscreen is ideal for sensitive skin and has what’s known as an “Anti-pollution Skin Shield,” which uses Artemisia capillaris extract to protect the skin from fine dust and other external stressors. Its “Mild Comfort System” includes Centella asiatica extract and Nymphaea alba flower extract to relieve irritation while calming redness.
This little sunscreen fits perfectly into my handbag, and it’s travel-friendly. I love that it absorbs fairly quickly and has a very mild scent. The sunscreen is a white cream that has a soft matte finish on absorption. Despite this soft matte finish, I found it to be slightly greasy, and it caused a bad reaction when it got anywhere near my eyes.
Rating: 4 cica-stars out of 5. One star forfeited for the white creamy cast it left on my skin.
Missha Cicadin Centella Water Sunscreen Stick
Next up is the Cicadin Centella Water Sunscreen Stick from Missha. It comes in a SPF 50+/PA++++ and contains 25% Centella asiatica extract. The centella is in place of water, and it results in a cooling sensation on the skin. It comes in a twist-up tube that’s at once very sporty and also very chic.
I love that it’s water-resistant, which is an absolute must for my hiking endeavors. It’s free of parabens, sulfates, and alcohol because no one wants those nasties on their skin. The niacinamide provides brightening effects, while the centella promotes wound healing, soothing, and skin conditioning.
The fragrance is quite strong, and it does contain lavender oil, which may not be suitable for everyone’s skin.
Rating: 3 cica-stars out of 5. One star lost for the scent and another for the texture, which is slightly greasy.
Purito Centella Green Level Unscented Sun
Last but certainly not least in the battle of the centella sunscreens is the Centella Green Level Unscented Sun from Purito. It’s also a SPF50+/PA++++, which makes it highly comparable to the other two sunscreens. It’s free from essential oils, because those may be triggering to people with sensitive skin. It’s also unscented, which is a major plus in my books.
It’s a water-based sunscreen that’s formulated with centella extracts and mild ingredients that help to reduce skin stressors and protect against the sun. The texture is similar to that of the COSRX sunscreen, except a lot more translucent on application. It’s also light, but not so light to feel like it’ll rub off easily.
It comes in a 60ml tube that’s slim, sleek, and white. The sunscreen applies smoothly and sinks in without any fuss. It feels hydrating but has a slightly sticky feel to it, though not enough to bother me, especially compared to the stickiness left by the COSRX sunscreen.
Rating: a solid 5 out of 5 cica-stars. No white cast, no scent, no greasiness, and a high level of protection are all winning attributes in my book.
Have you tried any of these centella sunscreens? Which are your faves?
I hail from South Africa, where I cut my teeth as a journalist, writing for the biggest-selling English magazine in the country.
I spent three years in South Korea and discovered a passion for K-beauty and the jjimjilbang.
I'm always on the go, but I make time for my skin.
Follow me on Instagram at @meg______b and at linkedin.com/in/megan-bursey-530b4177