• Top 10 Best Sunscreens for Dark Skin Tones in 2021 (Dermatologist-Reviewed) 1
  • Top 10 Best Sunscreens for Dark Skin Tones in 2021 (Dermatologist-Reviewed) 2
  • Top 10 Best Sunscreens for Dark Skin Tones in 2021 (Dermatologist-Reviewed) 3
  • Top 10 Best Sunscreens for Dark Skin Tones in 2021 (Dermatologist-Reviewed) 4
  • Top 10 Best Sunscreens for Dark Skin Tones in 2021 (Dermatologist-Reviewed) 5

Top 10 Best Sunscreens for Dark Skin Tones in 2021 (Dermatologist-Reviewed)

No matter what your complexion is, it's important to wear sunscreen every day to protect yourself from damaging UV rays. However, it's not always easy for people with darker skin to choose sunscreen, as many can leave a white cast.


Many cream-based sunscreens have a heavy consistency that can leave a white, chalky finish on the skin. So pick a product with a lightweight, fast-absorbing texture that will look transparent on your skin. If you don't know which product is the most suitable, take a look at our buying guide and list of the best sunscreens for dark skin tones!

Experts featured in this article

Dr. Lauren Levy
Kenny Dosu
  • Last updated: 10-13-2021
  • 910 views
Table of Contents

In Collaboration With Board Certified Dermatologist Dr. Lauren Levy

In Collaboration With Board Certified Dermatologist Dr. Lauren Levy

Dr. Levy is a board certified dermatologist practicing in NYC and Westport, Connecticut. She has expertise in treating inflammatory skin conditions like acne, rosacea, eczema, and psoriasis. She has an interest in skincare and takes a personalized approach to all of her patients.


We asked Dr. Levy to evaluate our buying guide below for accuracy. You can also follow her on Instagram for more skincare tips!

Top 10 Best Sunscreens for Dark Skin Tones

Here are our 10 favorite sunscreens for dark skin tones. We've based our choices on things like their quality and SPF properties. Hopefully, you'll find something that suits your needs here!


*Please note that these products were chosen after extensive research by mybest writers. The choices are not necessarily affiliated with or recommended by Dr. Lauren Levy.

1

Elta MD SkincareUV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46

$37.00

Amount1.7 oz.
TypeMineral sunscreen lotion
Broad spectrumYes
SPF46
Skin typeSensitive skin prone to acne, rosacea, and discoloration
Water-resistant No
2

NeutrogenaAge Shield Face

$10.97

Amount3 oz.
TypeChemical sunscreen lotion
Broad spectrumYes
SPF110
Skin typeAging skin
Water-resistant Yes
3

Supergoop!Unseen Sunscreen SPF 40 PA+++

$34.00

Amount1.7 oz.
TypeChemical sunscreen gel
Broad spectrumYes
SPF40
Skin typeNormal, dry, combination and oily
Water-resistant No
4

Laura MercierTinted Moisturizer Natural Skin Perfector

$47.00

Amount1.7 oz.
TypeChemical sunscreen liquid
Broad spectrumYes
SPF30
Skin typeNormal, dry, and combination
Water-resistant No
5

COOLAFull Spectrum 360 Sun Silk Drops

$46.00

Amount1 oz.
TypeChemical sunscreen serum
Broad spectrumYes
SPF30
Skin typeNormal and dry
Water-resistant No
6

Peter Thomas RothMax Sheer All Day Moisture Defense Lotion

$42.00

Amount1.7 oz.
TypeChemical sunscreen lotion
Broad spectrumYes
SPF30
Skin typeAll
Water-resistant No
7

Sun BumOriginal Sunscreen Spray

$15.99

Amount6 oz.
TypeMineral sunscreen spray
Broad spectrumYes
SPF30
Skin typeAll
Water-resistant Yes
8
Amount3 oz.
TypeChemical sunscreen lotion
Broad spectrumYes
SPF30
Skin typeAll
Water-resistant Yes
9

Thrive Natural CareDaily Defense Sunscreen Balm

$24.95

Amount2 oz.
TypeMineral sunscreen balm
Broad spectrumYes
SPF30
Skin type-
Water-resistant No
10

AlgenistSublime Defense Ultra Lightweight UV Defense Fluid

$28.00

Amount1 oz.
TypeMineral sunscreen fluid
Broad spectrumYes
SPF50
Skin typeNormal, dry, combination, and oily
Water-resistant No

Compare the Best Sunscreens for Dark Skin Tones

Image
1
Elta MD Skincare UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46 1

Elta MD Skincare

2
Neutrogena Age Shield Face 1

Neutrogena

3
Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen SPF 40 PA+++ 1

Supergoop!

4
Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer Natural Skin Perfector 1

Laura Mercier

5
COOLA Full Spectrum 360 Sun Silk Drops 1

COOLA

6
Peter Thomas Roth Max Sheer All Day Moisture Defense Lotion 1

Peter Thomas Roth

7
Sun Bum Original Sunscreen Spray 1

Sun Bum

8
Black Girl Sunscreen Black Girl Sunscreen SPF 30 1

Black Girl Sunscreen

9
Thrive Natural Care Daily Defense Sunscreen Balm 1

Thrive Natural Care

10
Algenist Sublime Defense Ultra Lightweight UV Defense Fluid 1

Algenist

Name

UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46

Age Shield Face

Unseen Sunscreen SPF 40 PA+++

Tinted Moisturizer Natural Skin Perfector

Full Spectrum 360 Sun Silk Drops

Max Sheer All Day Moisture Defense Lotion

Original Sunscreen Spray

Black Girl Sunscreen SPF 30

Daily Defense Sunscreen Balm

Sublime Defense Ultra Lightweight UV Defense Fluid

Features

The Ultimate Sunscreen That Protects from UVA and UVB Rays

Protect Skin Six Layers Deep

A Nourishing, Vegan, and Reef-Safe Gel Sunscreen

Tinted Sunscreen With Lots of Hydration

Protect Your Skin From More Than Just UV Rays

Ceramides and Aloe for Lasting Hydration

Hypoallergenic and Cruelty-Free Sunscreen for Adults and Children

Filled with Natural Ingredients and Made by a POC-Owned Company

Plant-Derived Mineral Sunscreen That Moisturizes

Ultra-Sheer Sunscreen That Helps Prevent Wrinkles

Price$37.00$10.97$34.00$47.00$46.00$42.00$15.99$18.99$24.95$28.00
Amount1.7 oz.3 oz. 1.7 oz. 1.7 oz. 1 oz.1.7 oz.6 oz.3 oz.2 oz. 1 oz.
TypeMineral sunscreen lotionChemical sunscreen lotionChemical sunscreen gel Chemical sunscreen liquid Chemical sunscreen serum Chemical sunscreen lotionMineral sunscreen sprayChemical sunscreen lotionMineral sunscreen balmMineral sunscreen fluid
Broad spectrumYesYesYesYesYes YesYesYesYesYes
SPF4611040 30303030303050
Skin typeSensitive skin prone to acne, rosacea, and discolorationAging skinNormal, dry, combination and oilyNormal, dry, and combinationNormal and dry AllAllAll-Normal, dry, combination, and oily
Water-resistant No Yes NoNoNoNoYes YesNo No
Link

How to Choose a Sunscreen for Dark Skin Tones - Buying Guide

Choosing a suitable sunscreen for dark skin tones is not easy, since there are various products with somewhat similar ingredients. So consider factors such as the type of sunscreen and the SPF ratings to ensure that the product actually works for you. 

Choose Between Mineral and Chemical Sunscreens

Sunscreens can be divided into two types: chemical and mineral-based. Each type has its own pros and cons, so take these into consideration before you make your choice.

Chemical Sunscreens Look Transparent But May Irritate the Skin

Chemical Sunscreens Look Transparent But May Irritate the Skin

Chemical sunscreens, also known as organic sunscreens, are made with active chemicals such as oxybenzone, avobenzone, or octocrylene. They trap and absorb the sun's UV rays, giving you optimal sun protection.


Chemical sunscreens are easy to apply and don't leave behind a white cast on dark skin tones. Nonetheless, they might cause some allergic reactions such as skin rashes, redness, or swelling. Many people with melasma or rosacea also don't react well to chemical sunscreens.


Active chemicals such as oxybenzone and octinoxate are not the most environmentally-friendly ingredients for the beach either. So if you are concerned about that, sunscreens made from reef-safe chemical blockers such as avobenzone and octocrylene might be a better option.

Dr. Lauren Levy
Board Certified Dermatologist
Dr. Lauren Levy

One of the best daily chemical sunscreens for those with darker skin tones is EltaMD UV Clear. This particular sunscreen has both chemical and mineral blockers and uses niacinamide to help with inflammation. It's also an effective sunscreen for those with acne-prone skin. 

Mineral Sunscreens are Gentle But Might Leave a White Cast

Mineral Sunscreens are Gentle But Might Leave a White Cast

Mineral, or physical, sunscreens contain reef-safe physical blockers such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide that form a protective barrier on top of the skin and reflect UV rays. This type of sunscreen can protect your skin right after application, so no wait is needed.


Mineral sunscreens are also gentle on sensitive skin, so even pregnant women and babies can use them. And since mineral sunscreens divert the sun rays away from the skin, they're a great option for people with heat-activated skin conditions like rosacea and redness.


Still, mineral sunscreens can come off with sweat and water, so make sure to re-apply more often. They may also leave behind a white sheen on the skin, which is a common concern for people with darker skin tones. Fortunately, there are many mineral sunscreens created with a sheer consistency that won't turn your skin white at all (like our recommendations!).

Dr. Lauren Levy
Board Certified Dermatologist
Dr. Lauren Levy

Mineral sunscreens are great because they can be tolerated by most skin types. As mentioned above, they're also safe for babies and pregnant people. As they're gentle on sensitive skin types, I recommend mineral sunscreens if you have photosensitive conditions like melasma or lupus.


Mineral sunscreens can, however, be quite cumbersome to rub in. Look for a gel formulation or Nano mineral sunscreens, as these tend to rub in a little easier

Avoid Creams and Pick a Lightweight, Sheer Formula

Avoid Creams and Pick a Lightweight, Sheer Formula

If you have a dark skin tone, it may be a challenge to find a sunscreen that won't give you a ghostly look. Cream-based sunscreens usually have a thick and heavy consistency that can't be absorbed quickly by the skin and might leave it with a chalky finish.


Meanwhile, sunscreens with a lightweight, fast-absorbing, and water-based consistency like gels, sheer lotions, or sprays are more transparent and less likely to leave a whitish sheen or any tint on the skin.

Avoid Creams and Pick a Lightweight, Sheer Formula
Although they're all lightweight, gels, sheer lotions, and sprays have different properties that are helpful for different skin types. Lotions are moisturizing and have a lighter consistency than cream-based sunscreens. They are suitable for dry skin.

Gels are lightweight and can produce a refreshing, matte finish. They work well under makeup and are ideal for an oily skin type. Sprays are easy and quick to apply. However, make sure to spray generously until your skin is glistening to get full protection.

Look for the Right Kind of Protection Against Sunrays

Look for the Right Kind of Protection Against Sunrays

The SPF (Sun Protection Factor) number decides how much protection against UVB rays you get. The higher the SPF number, the better the protection. For instance, SPF 30 will block about 95 percent of UVB rays, while SPF 100 can stop about 99 percent.


Keep in mind that no sunscreens can provide you with 100 percent protection against UVB rays, no matter how high the SPF number is. But generally, you should choose a sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher for better protection.


Sunscreens can wash off in water or when you're sweating, so you might want to choose a sunscreen that's water-resistant, especially if you intend to exercise outdoors or go swimming. Also, one application won't last you the whole day, so remember to re-apply the sunscreen every two hours or more often if you're wet.

Dr. Lauren Levy
Board Certified Dermatologist
Dr. Lauren Levy

Apply sunscreen about 30 minutes prior to your sun exposure. Reapplication is important throughout the day even if you don't sweat or swim. 


I recommend brush-on sunscreen applicators as an easy and effective way to reapply sunscreen throughout the day. These come available in many shades and tones and make reapplication a breeze.

Opt for a 'Broad Spectrum' Product for Optimal Protection

Opt for a 'Broad Spectrum' Product for Optimal Protection

Many people assume that the SPF number is the only thing that matters, but that's not true. The SPF number only measures the protection against UVB rays, which can cause sunburns and skin cancer.


However, SPF only does not protect againts UVA rays, the main cause behind premature aging. They're also responsible for your tan skin as well as skin cancer. To get optimal protection against UVB and UVA rays, you should pick a sunscreen labeled as 'broad spectrum'.

Dr. Lauren Levy
Board Certified Dermatologist
Dr. Lauren Levy

UV rays, specifically UVA, can penetrate through glass windows. Opting for a broad-spectrum sunscreen is very helpful for preventing sun damage, especially if you sit by a window at work or spend a lot of time on the road. 


Some anti-aging medications like retinols, retinoids, and AHAs, will make you sun sensitive and more prone to sunburn. Definitely choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen if you are on one of these.

Get a Sunscreen With Added Vitamins or Antioxidants

Get a Sunscreen With Added Vitamins or Antioxidants

UV rays produce free radicals that can speed up your skin's aging. Unfortunately, no sunscreen can fight them off completely. Therefore, many sunscreens are infused with antioxidants such as vitamin C, fruit, and flower extracts to help slow down the aging process and provide your skin with extra nourishment.


Some sunscreens are also enriched with ceramides to keep the skin moisturized and shield it from environmental aggressors such as pollution. If you're looking for a sunscreen that can nourish your skin as well as protect it, choose one that is infused with antioxidants or moisturizing ingredients.

Dr. Lauren Levy
Board Certified Dermatologist
Dr. Lauren Levy

I personally love adding a vitamin concentrate to my daily facial sunscreen in the morning. This can help boost protection from the sun and shield you from any free radical damage


Vitamin C in particular can also help with hyperpigmentation from melasma or post inflammatory from acne. It should be used in the morning on clean skin.

How to Reapply Sunscreen Over Makeup

You're meant to reapply sunscreen every two hours, but that can be a bit tricky when wearing a full face of makeup. If you're scared to mess it up, check out this video by Gothamista for some helpful tips!

Looking for Trustworthy Beauty Products?

Looking for Trustworthy Beauty Products?

Looking to update your self-care routine? Pamper yourself with these recommended products.

Seal in Your Sunscreen With a Good Setting Powder Recommended by an Expert

You may want to use a setting powder to make sure your sunscreen (and makeup!) stays on for longer. It will lock in your look for the day and prevent your skin from getting greasy or cakey. Influencer Kenny Dosu recommends the Translucent Loose Setting Powder from Laura Mercier.

Expert's
pick

Laura MercierTranslucent Loose Setting Powder

$28.08

Author: Thuy Nguyen


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