6 Lightweight Sunscreens That Don’t Look Ashy on Brown Skin
Here’s protection you can feel good about using every day for as little as $8.
You’ll often hear that the best sunscreen is the one you wear consistently, but not all formulas are created with melanin-rich skin tones in mind. The result? A white or chalky cast that causes many sisters to skip SPF altogether. But forgoing sunscreen only worsens dark spots, as well as the appearance of wrinkles and other signs of photoaging. More importantly, Black people have lower melanoma (the deadliest form of skin cancer) diagnoses but higher mortality rates due to late detection.
“Look for a broad-spectrum sunscreen [that protects against both UVA and UVB rays] with an SPF of 30 or higher,” advises DiAnne Davis, a board-certified cosmetic dermatologist at North Dallas Dermatology Associates in Texas. Struggle with acne? Choose non-comedogenic formulas that won’t clog pores. Water- and sweat-resistant formulas will do you good if you exercise frequently and/or spend a lot of time outdoors.
Lots of creams and potions promise a more youthful appearance, but a good sunscreen can be just as effective, if not more. Sun damage alone can destroy your skin’s collagen, which is linked to skin firmness and elasticity. With so many sunblock options on the shelves to choose from, it can be confusing to know which ones are suited for darker skin tones. But here are six sunscreens that prove that protection from the sun doesn’t have to leave behind a white cast.
Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunscreen SPF 55
Beauty editors and dermatologists swear by this drugstore SPF because of its creamy, sweat-resistant and easy-to-blend formula. One Allure editor notes how well this formula wears under makeup. This brand also comes in spray and stick form that makes touch-ups simple. (Amazon, $7.97)
Black Girl Sunscreen SPF 30
Created by Shontay Lundy, Black Girl Sunscreen is loved by beauty editors and estheticians because it’s formulated specifically for melanin-rich skin. This Black business owner’s product won’t leave behind annoying white residue. Allure named it one of the best sunscreens for darker complexions. And with hydrating ingredients like shea butter, avocado and jojoba, it doubles as a moisturizer for the face and body. Black Girl Sunscreen also comes in a matte gel formula. (BlackGirlSunscreen.com, $18.99)
Suntique I’m Safe for Sensitive Skin SPF 35
Mineral sunscreens that don’t leave a white cast are hard to come by, but this Korean SPF promises to be fast-absorbing (translation: no white cast) and gentle on sensitive skin. It contains anti-inflammatory ingredients like centella asiatica and aloe leaf extracts to help hydrate and soothe irritated skin without feeling greasy. “I have been looking for a light sunblock that isn’t heavy on my skin, spreads easily, doesn’t leave a white cast and doesn’t make me breakout. This meets all of those!” one reviewer with sensitive skin wrote. (SokoGlam.com, $24)
Bolden SPF 30 Brightening Moisturizer
Founded by Nigerian sisters-in-law Chinelo Chidozie and Ndidi Obidoa, this moisturizer combines broad spectrum protection and vitamin C (a stabilized form to prevent oxidation and maintain effectiveness). Need another reason to love this Black-owned sunscreen? Octinoxate and avobenzone are used instead of titanium dioxide and zinc oxide for a sheer effect. Plus, squalene is there to boost hydration. Beauty influencer Jackie Aina, who boasts 3.5 million subscribers on YouTube, told Bustle that Bolden’s sunscreen was her go-to because it balances her oily skin. (BoldenUSA.com, $28)
Lancer Sheer Fluid Sun Shield SPF 30
Infused with antioxidants, this pricier sunscreen comes from Beverly Hills-based dermatologist Harold Lancer, whose celebrity clientele includes Beyoncé and Oprah Winfrey. Packed with grape stem cells, sunflower sprout extracts and chamomile extract, it promises to gradually reduce the appearance of sun damage, as well as give your skin a radiant, healthy glow. Need another reason to add this sunblock to your daily regimen? It doubles as a makeup primer. (LancerSkincare.com, $60)
Colorescience Sunforgettable Total Protection Brush-On Shield SPF 50
Sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours, which isn’t always convenient. Named the best powder sunscreen by NewBeauty, this retractable brush makes on-the-go application easy. Available in four shades, including medium and deep, it can be worn alone or over your makeup, which comes in handy before video calls. Good to know: This 100 percent mineral formula delivers protection against UVA/UVB rays, pollution, blue light and infrared radiation, thanks to its patented EnviroScreen Technology. The full line also offers SPF formulas targeted for lips and under the eyes, two often neglected areas that can show signs of sun damage, too. (ColoreScience.com, $69)