Update 1/20/2021: Keep Cool has suspended sales of its Soothe Bamboo Sun Essence. Recent independent lab results have shown that the SPF is lower than the advertised level 50, although the official figure has not been disclosed. Read about that and more in this post.
Oh, wait, what’s this? Another sunscreen review? Yes, it is! Welcome back to the #summerofsunscreen here at QoWS. After reviewing Klairs’ new physical sunscreen, K-beauty brand Keep Cool reached out and asked if I would be interested in testing its just-released Soothe Bamboo Sun Essence.
Given how much I love Keep Cool and Korean sunscreens, naturally, I was more than happy to oblige.
Here are my thoughts on the Keep Cool Soothe Bamboo Sun Essence after using it for the last month.
What’s in the Keep Cool Soothe Bamboo Sun Essence?
The ingredients list is as follows:
Bambusa Vulgaris Water(401,800 ppm), Water, Diglycerin, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Methyl Methacrylate Crosspolymer, 1,2-Hexanediol, Diethylamino Hydroxybenzoyl Hexyl Benzoate, Niacinamide, Propanediol, Bis-Ethylhexyloxyphenol Methoxyphenyl Triazine, Behenyl Alcohol, Lespedeza Capitata Leaf/Stem Extract, Centella Asiatica Extract, Scutellaria Baicalensis Root Extract, Lonicera Japonica (Honeysuckle) Flower Extract, Forsythia Suspensa Fruit Extract, Chamaecyparis Obtusa Leaf Extract, Thuja Orientalis Extract, Pinus Densiflora Extract, Bambusa Vulgaris Extract, Sodium Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Potassium Cetyl Phosphate, Polyisobutene, Ammonium Acryloyldimethyltaurate/VP Copolymer, Silica, Butylene Glycol, Caprylyl/Capryl Glucoside, Sorbitan Oleate, Adenosine, Disodium EDTA, Sodium Hyaluronate, Hydroxypropyltrimonium Hyaluronate, Hydrolyzed Hyaluronic Acid, Sodium Acetylated Hyaluronate, Hyaluronic Acid, Sodium Hyaluronate Crosspolymer, Potassium Hyaluronate
Looking at the UV Filters
I’ve bolded the UV filters in the list above. They’re both chemical filters. (Read more about the differences between chemical and physical UV filters here.) To break each of them down:
- Diethylamino Hydroxybenzoyl Hexyl Benzoate (DHHB) may sound familiar to you if you wear Purito’s Centella Green Level Unscented Sunscreen as the beloved product also contains this UV filter. DHHB features high UVA protection (to keep wrinkles at bay) in addition to high photostability for longevity in use (read more here).
- Bis-Ethylhexyloxyphenol Methoxyphenyl Triazine (Tinosorb-S) is a broad-spectrum chemical filter that protects against UVA (wrinkles) and UVB (burns). Like DHHB, Tinosorb-S is highly photostable, and can even act as a booster for filters that are much less so, like avobenzone (read more here).
Note that these filters have not been approved for use by the United States Food and Drug Administration. However, chemical sunscreens featuring DHHB and Tinosorb-S are common in the European and Asian markets.
Other Noteworthy Ingredients
- Bambusa Vulgaris Water (401,880 ppm) is the first ingredient. The ppm, or “parts per million,” converts to roughly 40%. This is in line with Keep Cool’s other bamboo-based products.
- Centella Asiatica Extract is worth noting here for its anti-inflammatory properties. (Plus, I’m personally fond of it as a skincare ingredient.) Centella-infused sunscreens can be quite beneficial in preventing sun damage and dryness; you can read more about that here.
- Cool Keeper Complex is a proprietary blend of antipyretic (heat-reducing) herbs that contains forsythia fruit, lonicerae flos, and scutellaria baicalensis.
- 7-Fold Hyaluronic Acid is what it sounds like. The final seven ingredients listed are all variations of hyaluronic acid.
Wearing the Keep Cool Soothe Bamboo Sun Essence
From the photo above, you can see that the Keep Cool Bamboo Sun Essence doesn’t look quite as runny as the Purito Centella Unscented Sunscreen, although I think the design of Keep Cool’s tube plays a role in that, too. (More on that later.)
The Application + Feeling
The Keep Cool sunscreen has a little more weight to it than Purito’s, but it’s not suffocating, nor does it make my combo skin feel greasy.
While I absolutely love the texture of the Purito formula, I find that the Soothe Bamboo Sun Essence is slightly easier to work into the skin. In the photo on the right, you might be able to find traces of the Purito sunscreen near the right edge of my tattoo. (Note that none of these texture photos have been retouched in any way.)
Of course, neither of these sunscreens gives off any white cast, but when it comes to work-in-ability (??), I’ll give the edge to Keep Cool.
Bear in mind that my skin tone is very pale. To see how well the Keep Cool Soothe Bamboo Sun Essence appears on darker skin tones, @skincareinscrubs and @skininthecity are a couple of accounts that have recently shared/will be sharing their thoughts. I’ll add more reviews as I find them; feel free to recommend to me reviews you may come across, even if it’s your own!
Keep Cool’s sunscreen has no added fragrance, but it’s not totally unscented. The Soothe Bamboo Sun Essence reminds me of…chlorophyll? If that even has a scent? For anyone who has used Keep Cool’s Bamboo Cleansing Water, the smell of this sun cream is reminiscent of that. It’s not overbearing, but of course, YMMV when it comes to smells.
Let’s start off with what I love about the packaging: the design.
Other skincare companies, please take note of the photo on the left. This is how it should be done. There is no mess at all I have to worry about when applying this product, unlike Neutrogena’s very watery Hydro Boost formula in that unfortunate bottle.
Now let’s talk about the size of the tube in relation to its value. Keep Cool’s sunscreen comes in a 50 mL tube. By comparison, Purito’s sunscreen is available in a 60 mL tube while Klairs is the most generous of the three with 80 mL tubes for both its Blue UV Shield and Soft Airy UV Essence.
At the time of this post, Keep Cool’s sunscreen goes for around $15 ($0.30 per mL) while Purito’s is about $16 ($0.32 per mL). I’ll consider that a wash, value-wise. The Klairs sunscreen is the priciest of the three at around $18.50, but since it works out to nearly $0.23 per mL, it offers the best per-ml value out of the group…if you care about that sort of thing.
(To add another perspective, Cosrx’s Shield Fit Sun Cream comes in a 35 mL tube and fetches at least $20. Ouch.)
Update 8/3/2020: It appears that Keep Cool’s sunscreen experienced some launch day/week discounts. It’s now around $24 at YesStyle, or approximately $0.47 per mL. Oof. If it’s any consolation, it’s still a better value than the Cosrx Shield Fit Sun Cream! But compared to the very similar Purito formula, it’s not a stellar value.
(Of course, everyone’s prioroties and budgets vary!)
tl;dr: I am a fan of the Keep Cool Soothe Bamboo Sun Essence.
To me, it gives the Purito Unscented Sunscreen a run for its money. Maybe it’s my loyalty to Purito’s formula but I’m not giving the title of Favorite Sunscreen to Keep Cool outright. As far as I’m concerned, they can share the crown for now.
The Keep Cool sunscreen is hydrating and soothing like the name suggests. Sure, it feels a little heavier than Purito’s formula, but it’s also easier to spread and work into my skin.
It gives my combo skin a dewy finish and plays well with makeup. Well, whatever makeup I wear these days. (Usually, it’s some cushion foundation, lip color, and an eyebrow pencil.) However, I enjoy wearing the Soothe Bamboo Sun Essence on its own, too.
Yeah, it has a scent, but if it helps, it’s not a synthetic fragrance. This sunscreen also has no essential oils, which is likely due to Keep Cool wanting to remain EWG-compliant (for better or worse).
Relative to some other sunscreens on the market you won’t be getting a whole lot, but the value is still rather decent. Plus, the practical design of the packaging may divert your attention away from how much or little you believe you’re getting.
If you’re seeking a new chemical sunscreen to try and you’ve already ridden the Purito Hype Train several times over, disembark for a while and see what Keep Cool’s Soothe Bamboo Sun Essence is all about.
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I am not a professional. All opinions are my own.