Sunscreen isn’t just a summer staple — it’s an everyday essential that we should apply before head out for the day. Many might make excuses for why they skip sun protection, like blaming it on sitting inside all day (unfortunately, UV rays can pass through window glass and still cause damage).
But one of the deadliest excuses, however, is believing that you aren’t at risk because of the color of your complexion. While, yes, melanin does provide some protection, you can still sustain sunburns and develop skin cancer. In fact, a 2016 study published in the Journal of American Academy of Dermatology found that despite high incidences in Caucasians, the disease is often deadlier for people of color.
But a big barrier for many people of color trying to step up their sun protection is discovering products that fit their skin tone. Most of the broad spectrum sunscreens on shelves have formulas that contain titanium dioxide or zinc oxide, two minerals that deflect UV rays but can also leave darker skin looking ashy in the process. Thankfully, there is now a slew of sunscreens that skip the physical blockers and use chemical formulas that keep UV rays away without clouding up your complexion. Whether you’re looking for a moisturizer with some serious SPF or need a setting spray that screens out UV rays, these sheer sunscreens allow the beauty of your skin tone to shine through.
1. Black Girl Sunscreen ($19): This solution made a splash on social media this spring after Reddit user khaleesidee shared her love for the formula in a post that quickly went viral. As she put it, “It feels lightweight, moisturizing, has a natural finish and leaves absolutely no white cast or stickiness. It sinks in the skin in a minute or so and feels smooth but not silicon[e]-y. It is basically like putting on a very lightweight moisturizer. It does not peel either.” Talk about checking off all the boxes!
2. Glossier Invisible Shield ($25): While some can’t stand the lotion-like feel of formulas that can slip and slide before you apply, this one boasts a watergel texture that absorbs immediately into skin without a greasy finish. It also protects against free radicals and pollutants as well as UV rays — all without any ashy side effects.
3. Bolden SPF 30 Brightening Moisturizer ($28): We know that sunscreen helps prevent acne scars and dark spots from deepening, but this moisturizer made for women of color takes it a step further. The formula is infused with a dose of vitamin C to even tone and kick-start collagen production and antioxidants to undo daily environmental damage.
4. Kate Somerville UncompliKated SPF Soft Focus Makeup Setting Spray ($38): Setting sprays have become a standard part of the makeup application process, but this one will be your first line of defense against damaging UV rays. A light spritz instantly adds a soft-focus, matte effect to your face while delivering SPF 50 that won’t mess with the rest of your makeup.
5. Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 40 ($32): Supergoop souped up this fab formula that works not only as sun protection but can also hang on to every drop of makeup you apply on top of it without affecting the tone. Plus, it even battles against infrared and blue light, both of which can also accelerate skin aging.
6. Coola Classic Sport Face SPF 50 White Tea ($32): Coola has been the go-to organic suncare option for ages. But while many others elect to include mineral blockers to keep UV rays at bay, this one skips it so you won’t appear overcast. And with a blend of primrose and linseed oils to soothe and stabilize skin, this water-resistant sunscreen is suited for a seaside escape or sweating while waiting for the subway to show up.
7. Moroccanoil Sun Lotion 50 SPF ($32): Moroccanoil is mostly known for its argan-infused products meant for manes, but the brand has seriously branched out with this summer staple. The lotion provides plenty of protection as well as hydration that comes courtesy of vitamin E as well as a formulation specifically for the face. Oh, and don’t worry, this sunscreen smells just as amazing as any of the brand’s signature strand saviors.
8. CeraVe Hydrating Face Moisturizing Lotion SPF 30 ($18): Sensitive skin types can often have trouble finding formulas that fit their needs thanks to added fragrances. But since CeraVe already nixes most major irritants, you shouldn’t experience any sting with this sunscreen that’s designed to protect as well as mattify any emerging oils without stripping the skin of hydration.
9. La Roche-Posay Anthelios AOX Daily Antioxidant Face Serum with Sunscreen SPF 50 ($43): This serum was made for those who looking to streamline their skincare and save time in their morning routine. It takes a double-pronged approach to even tone by serving up sun protection as well as delivering a powerful antioxidant complex and vitamin E to revitalize skin and return it to its radiant state.
10. Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 30 ($7): Sunscreen skippers claim that some formulas are so greasy that they can’t get a grip on anything after application. While that’s true of a few of the sunscreens currently on shelves, this one from Neutrogena is the exception. Its Dry Touch technology actually absorbs excess sunscreen oils to prevent serious slippage whether you apply it on your face or your body.
11. Sun Bum SPF 50 Face Lotion ($13): Sun Bum has every inch of you covered when it comes to sun protection. It boasts a phthalate-, paraben-, and gluten-free formula that works on the face and body. It’s also reef friendly, meaning you can protect yourself and the delicate coral ecosystem should you happen to have an upcoming trip on your calendar.
12. Hawaiian Tropic Silk Hydration Faces Weightless Sunscreen SPF 30 ($8): While sunscreen is essential, you don’t have to splurge to score serious protection. You won’t have to worry that this Hawaiian Tropic formula will weigh down your skin; it hydrates for up to 12 hours, minus any clogged pores or white patches.
(Photo via Getty)
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