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!
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!
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.
|Type||Mineral sunscreen lotion|
|Skin type||Sensitive skin prone to acne, rosacea, and discoloration|
|Type||Chemical sunscreen lotion|
|Skin type||Aging skin|
|Type||Chemical sunscreen gel|
|Skin type||Normal, dry, combination and oily|
|Type||Chemical sunscreen liquid|
|Skin type||Normal, dry, and combination|
|Type||Chemical sunscreen serum|
|Skin type||Normal and dry|
|Type||Chemical sunscreen lotion|
|Type||Mineral sunscreen spray|
|Type||Chemical sunscreen lotion|
|Type||Mineral sunscreen balm|
|Type||Mineral sunscreen fluid|
|Skin type||Normal, dry, combination, and oily|
Elta MD Skincare
Peter Thomas Roth
Black Girl Sunscreen
Thrive Natural Care
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
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
|Amount||1.7 oz.||3 oz.||1.7 oz.||1.7 oz.||1 oz.||1.7 oz.||6 oz.||3 oz.||2 oz.||1 oz.|
|Type||Mineral sunscreen lotion||Chemical sunscreen lotion||Chemical sunscreen gel||Chemical sunscreen liquid||Chemical sunscreen serum||Chemical sunscreen lotion||Mineral sunscreen spray||Chemical sunscreen lotion||Mineral sunscreen balm||Mineral sunscreen fluid|
|Skin type||Sensitive skin prone to acne, rosacea, and discoloration||Aging skin||Normal, dry, combination and oily||Normal, dry, and combination||Normal and dry||All||All||All||-||Normal, dry, combination, and oily|
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.
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, 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.
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, 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!).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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'.
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.
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.
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.
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 to update your self-care routine? Pamper yourself with these recommended products.
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.
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