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I often get asked about different sunscreens from different countries – why are many Korean ones, like the Thank You Farmer Sun Project Light Sun Essence SPF 50+ that I am going to review today, so different to European ones like the La Roche Posay line?
To understand that, we have to take a look at how sunscreen and sunscreen usage was (and in many cases still is) perceived. In many Asian countries skin is supposed to be as light as possible, and alongside sun smart behavior daily sunscreen application has been common for quite a while. In Europe on the contrary, the “healthy tan” is what you aim for, and it hasn’t been long that you’d wear sunscreen on other occasions than a beach day. I didn’t wear regular sunscreen until my mid-twenties, and it definitely shows on my skin. (More info: Different kinds of hyperpigmentation and how to treat them)
So how does that explain the difference? If I wear sunscreen everyday, ideally I want it to feel like a lightweight moisturizer. If I wear sunscreen to the beach, I want to be able to feel the protective film, as that reassures me that it is there to stay through sweat and sand and swimming. And that is why brands in Asian countries explored formulations entirely different from their European counterparts. Yes, that is slowly changing, but old habits die hard!
A few words on the brand Thank you Farmer
As I never tried anything from the brand Thank you Farmer, a few words on them and especially their “clean beauty” claims. I made my stand on “clean beauty” very clear – I am NOT a fan. (More info: Why I think Clean Beauty is dangerous)
I also don’t know what the brand means by pure and honest ingredients, I have never been lied to by a retinoid. The last claim I want to address is “natural skincare with high performance botanicals”. It is no secret that I put my bet on lab-made ingredients rather than botanical extracts any day, but as the Light Sun Essence uses chemical sunscreen filters in addition to their extracts, all of the above did not stop me from trying the sunscreen – I don’t want to miss out on great products because I don’t agree with the brands marketing.
What the Thank You Farmer Sun Project Light Sun Essence SPF 50+ claims
A featherweight daily defence, Thank You Farmer’s Sun Project Light Sun Essence SPF 50+ infuses skin with cooling aloe extract (to reduce redness and calm irritation), while sacha inchi oil and lotus flower water combine to soften visibility of lines and bolster skin’s resilience – improving suppleness and ‘stretch’ while deflecting the damaging effects of UV rays. Readily absorbed and completely non-greasy, this hydrates without smothering skin, controlling oil to maintain a smooth, semi-matte finish.
Facts about the Thank You Farmer Sun Project Light Sun Essence SPF 50+
Price and size
One tube contains 40 ml and retails for 20 € here. That is around mid price range, which could prevent you from applying enough.
Texture and smell of the the Thank You Farmer Sun Project Light Sun Essence SPF 50+
Just like many other Korean sunscreens this looks and feels like a hydrating moisturizer rather than a sunscreen. It has a slight floral scent.
How to use the Thank You Farmer Sun Project Light Sun Essence SPF 50+
Sunscreen goes on as last step in the mornings, in this case it can easily replace your moisturizer as it is really very hydrating. As always I use the two fingers method to make sure I apply an adequate amount, it absorbs quickly without tackiness, there is no pilling and reapplication even over makeup is easy to do (More info: 55 ways to reapply sunscreen over makeup).
I don’t agree with the claim of a semi-matte finish, on my skin it is rather dewy, but never oily.
Ingredients of the the Thank You Farmer Sun Project Light Sun Essence SPF 50+
Hover the mouse over an ingredient for short explanation. Read more on INCIDecoder.
When we look at the ingredients, it contains Octinoxate, Homosalate, Octisalate for UVB protection and Uvinul A Plus and Octocrylene for added UVA protection. There is also Silica and Microcrystalline Cellulose, which act as mattifying ingredients, probably the reason for the semi-matte claims, and Glycerin for hydration. Then there are the plant extracts, Aloe the most well known one, and fragrance. (More info: The difference between chemical and mineral sunscreen filters)
How does the Thank You Farmer Sun Project Light Sun Essence SPF 50+ compare to…
Garnier Ambre Solaire Anti-Age Super UV Face Protection Cream SPF 50
Both feel similar in hydrating properties and texture, the Garnier one did pill maybe once or twice on my skin when paired with a richer serum, which did not happen with the Sun Essence, but other than that to me they feel and look pretty similar.
Garnier is half the price for more product, has more modern filters and rather than plant extracts contains Niacinamide, one of my favorite ingredients, which is why it is probably the one that I will repurchase. If your skin does not agree with Avobenzone though, Thank you Farmer is the better option.
Will I repurchase?
It is lovely, but not easy to get here in Germany and more on the expensive side, which means I would have to adore it to consider repurchasing.
Whom do I recommend it to?
Overall it is a lovely hydrating sunscreen that I recommend for normal skin year round, for more oily skin like mine probably more in the colder months rather than the heat of summer.
And if you want to get a vote in the next Ask Doctor Anne Topic, Ingredient Spotlight or product I review, don’t forget you can head over to my Patreon account to get more involved!