I've Tried Dozens of Sunscreens—These Are the 10 Best for Dark Skin

White cast? Don’t know her.

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Woman sunbathing and applying suntan lotion at the beach
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Being a total sun baby, you can usually find me outside and/or on a beach. But with sun comes sunlight, and with sunlight comes UV rays. And although sunscreen is an easy answer for some, a major challenge is finding sunscreen for dark complexions that won't create the dreaded white tint.

But that doesn't mean you should give up on SPF! After much trial and error, I discovered that it is possible to protect dark skin with sunscreen without looking like a dirty chalkboard. First and foremost, take a look at the ingredients list. "It's better to avoid sunscreen with too much zinc because it can leave a white residue on darker skin that gives off an ashy appearance," says Juliette Bartijn, esthetician and spa manager of Okeanos Spa. "I also recommend that people with dark skin use sunscreen with a SPF 30 or higher, as it will deflect heat which worsens hyperpigmentation."

But of course, a personal recommendation always goes far, so keep reading for 10 sunscreens that I can vouch for on dark skin.

Block Island Organics Natural Face Moisturizer SPF 30

Block Island Organics Natural Face Moisturizer SPF 30

Block Island Organics utilizes an all-mineral SPF formula using clear zinc, which helps to keep the product as transparent as possible once rubbed into skin. It's also infused with soothing ingredients like shea butter, aloe, and vitamin E to hydrate, assist with existing sunburn, and defend against free radical damage. What more could you ask for?

Elta MD Tinted UV Daily

Elta MD Tinted UV Daily

Lightweight is essential when it comes to sunscreen, and Elta MD understood the assignment. Its formula keeps skin moisturized and absorbs quickly without leaving behind a white film. And if you're acne-prone, don't worry: The formula is also non-comedogenic, meaning it won't clog pores and make acne worse.

Color Science Sunforgettable® Total Protection™ Face Shield Classic

Color Science Sunforgettable® Total Protection™ Face Shield Classic

The technology behind Sunforgettable sunscreen is impressive—it's a powerful protector for ultraviolet light, blue light, and infrared, the last of which has recently been shown to play a significant role in hyperpigmentation. It also boasts the ability to block out pollution, so it's great for dark skin individuals suffering from environment-induced melasma (freckle-like spots).

Seven Minerals Skin Friendly Sunscreen Lotion

Seven Minerals Skin Friendly Sunscreen Lotion

This 80-minute water-resistant sunscreen by Seven Minerals is made for rubbing all over the body. Fun fact: The product is made with reef-friendly ingredients and bottled in 100% recycled plastic collected from the coastlines of Haiti, Honduras, and Mexico.

Alba Botanica Sensitive Sheer Shield Sunscreen

Alba Botanica Sensitive Sheer Shield Sunscreen

If you have dark and sensitive skin, consider Alba Botanica's Sensitive Sheer Shield Sunscreen. The fragrance-free formula produces a clean and matte finish (no white cast!) and is choice for easily irritated complexions.

PCA Skin Weightless Protection Broad Spectrum SPF 45

PCA Skin Weightless Protection Broad Spectrum SPF 45

This lightweight formula carries an unexpected ingredient—caffeine, which helps prevent free radical damage. Meanwhile, bisabolol reduces redness and irritation (this also helps with existing sunburn!). And of course, the 100 percent reef-safe formula means your conscience can feel just as good using it.

Clean Beauty by AnaK Matte Finish Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 40

Clean Beauty by AnaK Matte Finish Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 40

Although this formula does have zinc in it, it's not as potent and won't leave any visible residue. According to the company's founder who also does virtual consultations, you should apply the sunscreen over your topical moisturizer within 120 seconds of washing your face. The dampness will help the products absorb seamlessly into the skin.

Black Girl Sunscreen SPF30

Black Girl Sunscreen SPF30

A company created specifically to address the needs of black women wearing sunscreen, Black Girl Sunscreen is reef-safe and made with all natural ingredients. Per the name, the founders are focused on eliminating the white film that sunscreen tends to leave on black women (they suffer from the problem themselves), so you know you're getting something legit.

Fenty Skin Hydra Vizor Sunscreen

Fenty Skin Hydra Vizor Sunscreen

If you suffer from hyperpigmentation, consider this niacinamide- and hyaluronic acid-infused powerhouse. These two ingredients work in conjunction to lighten the appearance of dark spots while moonlighting as a moisturizer. Don't be thrown off by the pink formula—once rubbed, it applies invisibly on all skin tones and gets along well with makeup (no pilling or flashback).

Unsun Cosmetics Mineral Tinted Sunscreen

Unsun Cosmetics Mineral Tinted Sunscreen

The ultimate beach skincare product, Unsun Cosmetics' Mineral Tinted sunscreen has sun-protecting, anti-aging (it's chock-full of natural antioxidants), and water-resistant benefits (up to 40 minutes in the water). Choose the medium/dark option if you have olive to dark chocolate skin.

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Sources
Real Simple is committed to using high-quality, reputable sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts in our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we fact check our content for accuracy.
  1. Schalka S. New data on hyperpigmentation disorders. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2017;31 Suppl 5:18-21. doi:10.1111/jdv.14411

  2. Eddin LB, Jha NK, Goyal SN, et al. Health benefits, pharmacological effects, molecular mechanisms, and therapeutic potential of α-bisabolol. Nutrients. 2022;14(7):1370. doi:10.3390/nu14071370

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