Experts have agreed that we should all be wearing sunscreen daily, even if you’re a person of color. We understand this may come as a shock to some, so we spoke with four beauty experts to get the scoop on this harmful misconception. As board-certified New York City-based dermatologist Elyse Love explains, “UV radiation is responsible for numerous skin consequences, including skin aging, skin cancer and hyperpigmentation. Hyperpigmentation is the No. 1 skin complaint of people of color, and sun protection is the No. 1 preventative treatment for it.”
But finding a sunscreen fit for people of color can be difficult, as many leave a white cast on the skin long after it’s been applied. “Physical sunscreens are usually the culprit of the white/purple cast,” explains New York-based licensed esthetician and skin care expert Sean Garrette. “These sunscreens have mineral filters that sit on top of the skin and they don’t absorb and blend in fully. Eliminating the white cast has no effect of the efficacy of the sunscreen either.” He adds that because there was an overarching myth in the industry that people of color don’t need sunscreen, there weren’t many options created to suit our skin tones. “The industry has now recognized that there is a market toward Black and brown consumers, as they have become aware that Black [people] will spend the money necessary to take care of themselves,” shares Shontay Lundy, founder of notable Black Girl Sunscreen.
Woman applying sunscreen
But now, with so many options in the market, what should you look for in a good sunscreen? Los Angeles-based licensed esthetician Nayamka “Nai” Roberts-Smith, also known as LABeautyologist, shares that you want to use at least an SPF 30, but to target a product in the SPF 30 to 50 range. “You can go up to SPF 100, but it gives people the false sense that it will give twice as much sun protection,” she explains, emphasizing how important it is to reapply your product after two to three hours — otherwise the sun protection wears off. “It’s important that the sunscreen leaves a film on the skin” to actually protect against UV rays, she says. She recommends you use roughly a grape-sized amount that you can spread from your face to your neck, ears and hands.
With this guidance in mind, we’ve curated a list of expert-approved sunscreens for people of color that won’t leave you chalky, even going so far as to test a bunch of them ourselves.
EltaMD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46
A sunscreen you’re likely to hear about again and again, this broad-spectrum sunscreen was recommended by not one but two of our experts. Both Garrette and Roberts-Smith think this noncomedogenic, oil-free number is a top sunscreen for people of color.
Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen SPF 40
Get ready to see plenty of Supergoop! on our list, the first being the Unseen Susncreen that’s also recommended by Garrette and Roberts-Smith. Not only does this apply clearly onto the skin, it also leaves a velvety finish that’s smoothing and even works as a makeup primer.
Black Girl Sunscreen
Black Girl Sunscreen Broad-Spectrum SPF 30
“I created Black Girl Sunscreen because I was underwhelmed by the options for skin protection for women of color,” shares Lundy, noting that she created the brand as a solution to the lack of options on the market that suit darker complexions. Since its launch, the brand has surely been one to lead the charge and set the standard for sun protection without a white cast. Roberts-Smith loves this for body, especially in the summer, since it contains nourishing ingredients like sunflower oil, avocado and jojoba.
La Roche-Posay Toleriane Double Repair Face Moisturizer UV SPF 30
“La Roche-Posay Double Repair Face Moisturizer with SPF is my go-to everyday sunscreen,” shares Love. “It is a lightweight but moisturizing formula with no scent and no white cast.” Keep your eyes peeled for this one the next time you’re visiting your local Target or drugstore.
Glossier Invisible Shield Daily Sunscreen
“The Glossier Invisible Shield sunscreen is really light and awesome for summertime or oilier skin,” explains Roberts-Smith. However, she notes that it contains orange oil, so she cautions its usage for people who are sensitive to oils or fragrance.
Supergoop! (Re)setting 100 Mineral Powder SPF 35
As Roberts-Smith states, you have to reapply your sunscreen every two to three hours for adequate sun protection — even if you’re wearing makeup. But what are you meant to do to protect your skin without ruining that beat? Roberts-Smith recommends this powder that’s meant to set your makeup and mattify skin. Choose from one of four shades to suit your complexion.
Shiseido Ultimate Sun Protector Lotion SPF 50 Sunscreen
This unique sunscreen by Shiseido is a recommendation from Garrette. It uses what the brand calls HeatForce and WetForce technology to become stronger as it’s exposed to heat, water and sweat — meaning you’ll get stronger sun protection. Although it doesn’t leave any residue, reviewers share that it can be a bit oily, so use with caution if you have oily skin.
Isdin Eryfotona Ageless Tinted Mineral Susncreen SPF 50+
Love shares that “Isdin Eryfotona Tinted is [her] favorite mineral sunscreen” because “it is lightweight, nonchalky and cosmetically elegant on most skin tones.”
Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel Lotion Susncreen SPF 50
The Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel Lotion Sunscreen is a favorite of Roberts-Smith’s because it’s accessible at any drugstore. You’ve got to appreciate a sunscreen that provides intense hydration without weighing down your skin, especially in the warmer temperatures. It’s also worth noting that it is oil-free, noncomedogenic and nongreasy.
Paula’s Choice Resist Youth-Extending Daily Hydrating Fluid SPF 50
This has quickly become one of our favorite everyday sunscreens, as a recommendation by Garrette. It’s super light, with a sheer finish that provides SPF 50 sun protection. It gets extra points for layering well with makeup.
La Roche-Posay Athelios Mineral Ultra-Light Fluid Broad-Spectrum SPF 50
This 100% mineral sunscreen comes recommended by Roberts-Smith. It uses zinc oxide and titanium dioxide for broad-spectrum UVA/UVB protection that leaves a matte finish on the skin. Because it’s ultra light, it’s great to wear all summer long.
Peter Thomas Roth Water Drench Hyaluronic Moisturizer SPF 45
What’s one of our favorite sunscreens for melanin-rich skin? This Peter Thomas Roth Water Drench Hyaluronic Moisturizer SPF 45 is easy to love. Formulated as part of the brand’s Water Drench collection, this sunscreen will surge your skin with the moisture it craves without being greasy or too thick. Get your hands on this if you’re spending a lot of time in the water, as this is meant to be water-resistant.
Coola Makeup Setting Spray Organic Sunscreen SPF 30
If you prefer not to carry around powder sunscreen to reapply through the day, have you considered a spray sunscreen? Roberts-Smith likes this one by Coola that contains hyaluronic acid, plant cell extracts and aloe vera to soothe the skin, set your makeup and provide UV protection.
Vichy LiftActiv Peptide-C Face Sunscreen SPF 30
If you’re looking for a sunscreen that’ll help you treat wrinkles, dark spots and uneven skin tone, the Vichy LiftActive Peptide-C sunscreen is the way to go. A top pick of Garrette’s, this provides SPF 30 UVA/UVB protection along with ingredients to brighten, firm and replenish the skin’s barrier.
Biossance Squalene Zinc Sheer Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30 PA++++
For those of you who want to prioritize using clean beauty brands, try the Biossance Squalene + Zinc Sheer Mineral Sunscreen that’s loved by Garrette. With this, be ready for lightweight moisture and a dewy finish.
Supergoop! Glow Oil SPF 50
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