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Living with a darker skin tone is very much like having a superpower. Thanks to the presence of melanin, people with darker skin have some protection against sun rays, which can be harmful to the skin.

However, even Superman needs some shielding against kryptonite. Despite having a form of built-in sunblock, dark skin tones still require defense against one of the brightest stars in our solar system. Sunscreen does a great job at this, but not just any sunscreen will do.

To properly cater to darker skin tones, sunscreen needs to be applied daily and liberally, without the fear of producing a white cast.

If you have darker skin, and would prefer sunscreen to melt into your skin without looking like talcum powder found its way into the mix, we’ve rounded up some of the best sunscreens that could work best for you.

To make sure you’re getting the best protection against sun damage, you’ll want a sunscreen that provides adequate sun protection. Equally important is finding a product that doesn’t leave you looking chalky or in the running to replace Casper.

To find products that meet both requirements, we looked through reviews online and selected those that were rated highly and have at least SPF 30. We also selected a diverse bunch to cover different price points, skin types, and skin care requirements.

  • $ = under $10
  • $$ = $11–$30
  • $$$ = over $30

Best facial sunscreen for dark skin

Black Girl Sunscreen

  • Price: $$
  • Type: Chemical
  • SPF: 30

There’s nothing quite like using a product designed especially with you in mind. If you’re Black and have struggled with finding sunscreen to properly protect and care for your skin, this Black-owned sunscreen could be the right choice for you.

Black Girl Sunscreen has been praised by reviewers for its creamy, lotion-y feel — many customers have ditched their moisturizers for this sunscreen, saving one step in their skin care routines.

Other bonuses include its lightweight application, cruelty-free ingredients, pleasant smell, and of course, the noticeable absence of any white residue.

And while it may mention “girl” specifically, people of all genders are free to use and enjoy this product.

Best acne-friendly sunscreen for dark skin

EltaMD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46 Facial Sunscreen

  • Price: $$
  • Type: Mineral and chemical
  • SPF: 46

While protecting your skin against the sun can help to manage acne scarring and discoloration, one of the very last things you want is to clog up your pores with greasy sunscreen. Blockages can cause breakouts and may be responsible for worsening the condition of your skin.

This sunscreen is a customer and dermatologist favorite for defending acne-prone skin from sun damage. It’s made with acne-friendly ingredients like lactic acid, which is useful for exfoliating and hydrating the skin. This acid also helps to control oil production, a very handy feature if you’re looking to manage your acne or have oily skin.

Best sunscreen for sensitive dark skin

Alba Botanica Sensitive Sheer Shield Sunscreen

  • Price: $
  • Type: Chemical
  • SPF: 45

If you have sensitive skin, finding non-irritating protection from the sun can be a tough task — which is where Alba Botanica Sunscreen comes in. This sunscreen is not only easy on your skin but also on your wallet.

Fragrance- and cruelty-free, customers have praised this product for how easily it melts into the skin without any residue. In particular, users with dry, sensitive skin have found the Alba Botanica sunscreen ideal.

Best powder sunscreen for dark skin

Colorescience Sun Forgettable Total Protection Brush-On Shield

  • Price: $$$
  • Type: Mineral
  • SPF: 50

Powder sunscreen provides a useful alternative and extra support to more traditional liquid and spray-on sunscreen.

While this product comes at a high price point, a number of features make it a no-brainer when selecting sunscreen. Reviewers say this product won’t clog your pores or cause an allergic reaction. It’s also easy to use and won’t streak under water or in the presence of sweat for up to 80 minutes.

Even better, depending on your preference, this sunscreen may be worn alone, or as an accompaniment to makeup without having to worry about a white cast after application. It comes in four shades.

Best tinted sunscreen for dark skin

CeraVe Hydrating Mineral Sunscreen

  • Price: $$
  • Type: Mineral
  • SPF: 30

For those days when you’d like a luminous glow to your appearance (AKA, every day), this CeraVe sunscreen could be the tube for the job.

Tinted sunscreen provides an instant, glowy lift to the skin without compromising on sun protection. This CeraVe option is particularly recommended by reviewers for its nongreasy feel and hydration. It achieves this by using ceramides (fatty acids that restore the skin’s protective barrier).

Best mineral sunscreen for dark skin

Farmacy Green Defense Daily Mineral Sunscreen

  • Price: $$$
  • Type: Mineral
  • SPF: 30

Farmacy Green Defense Daily Mineral Sunscreen used naturally derived ingredients to provide much-needed protection against the harmful rays of the sun.

These ingredients include sunscreen favorites like zinc oxide, which helps to block out those dangerous UVA and UVB rays, as well as antioxidants such as chicoric acid.

As an added bonus, users find the scent of this sunscreen pleasant and non-irritating.

Best lightweight sunscreen for dark skin

La Roche-Posay Anthelios Light Fluid Sunscreen

  • Price: $$$
  • Type: Chemical
  • SPF: 60

Raise a hand if you like your skin care products heavy and clogging on your skin. No? Then you may appreciate this La Roche-Posay sunscreen for its effect on the skin.

It has a barely there feel upon application, but it’s still water-resistant.

This sunscreen is also a customer favorite for its invisible, matte finish. If you aren’t too fond of scents in your skin care products, you’ll be pleased to know that this sunscreen is fragrance-free and ideal for sensitive skin.

Best body sunscreen for dark skin

Shiseido Ultimate Sun Protector Lotion

  • Price: $$$
  • Type: Chemical
  • SPF: 50

Here’s a cool thing you don’t hear about sunscreens everyday — Shiseido Ultimate Sun Protector is crafted in such a way that Shiseido says it works better when exposed to heat or water.

In addition to its cast-free composition, this broad-spectrum sunscreen also has a lightweight feel. It retains its protective properties for up to 80 minutes when exposed to water.

Best sunscreen for dark skin with hyperpigmentation

Fenty Skin Hydra Vizor Invisible Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 30 Sunscreen

  • Price: $$$
  • Type: Chemical
  • SPF: 30

If you’re dark skinned and struggle with hyperpigmentation, you can get your sun protection from the Fenty Skin Hydra Vizor sunscreen. This product works to protect you without causing any worries about a white cast marking your skin.

It contains niacinamide, which can help manage hyperpigmentation. Also present is hyaluronic acid, which has hydrating properties, combined with aloe to help soothe the skin.

There’s a reason sunscreen is advised to be used daily — come rain, come sunshine. Actually, make that plenty of reasons: sunburn, cancer, wrinkles, and fine lines are just some of the ways sun damage affects the skin. This makes protection against harmful UVA and UVB rays important not just for appearance but also for your well-being.

To make sure you’re getting the best sunscreen for your skin type, there are a few things to look out for.

Broad spectrum

It’s important to look out for sunscreen that offers broad-spectrum protection against the sun rays. This simply means that your sunscreen is able to protect you against the dangerous tag team of UVA and UVB sun rays.

SPF 30 or above

When selecting your sunscreen, look out for products that are SPF 30 or higher. SPF refers to “sun protection factor,” which indicates how much solar energy is needed to produce a sunburn on protected skin compared with unprotected skin.

An SPF 30 sunscreen will filter out about 97 percent of the sun’s rays when applied correctly. However, you should note that even a super high SPF doesn’t protect you completely. Be sure to reapply at least every 2 hours. If you’re spending time in the water, you may need to reapply more frequently.

Chemical or mineral

Sunscreens are commonly available in chemical or mineral form. Distinguishing between both forms is fairly easy — mineral sunscreens make use of minerals such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, while chemical sunscreens use these active ingredients:

  • oxybenzone
  • avobenzone
  • octisalate
  • octocrylene
  • homosalate
  • octinoxate

Chemicals allow for easy application into the skin and are less likely to produce a white cast when used. However, there are concerns over the effects of long-term exposure to these chemicals, both for humans and for aquatic life.

Research from 2020 found that some chemicals are absorbed into the bloodstream after observing systemic absorption rates of 6 active ingredients in 4 sunscreen products in four different forms for single- and maximum-use applications.

More research is needed to figure out the long-term effects of this chemical absorption.

In the meantime, the only ingredients recognized as safe and effective by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, which are found in mineral sunscreens. Mineral sunscreens are ideal for people with sensitive skin.

You should know, however, that mineral sunscreen is more difficult to apply (it can take a while to rub in) and is usually responsible for that telltale white cast.

Sunscreen is one of the most important forms of protection for any skin type or shade. However, for dark skinned people, selecting the right sunscreen is very important to avoid white casts, as well as to optimize for the best form of coverage.

When looking for sunscreen, consider the type you prefer, where you’ll be using it, the price, and whether you have any skin concerns you’d like the sunscreen to address.


Courtesy of Beth Plumptre

Elizabeth Plumptre is a freelance health and wellness writer. She has spent the last 4 years helping brands like Hims, MindBodyGreen, and Prose create content that resonates with diverse readers. You can check out more of her work by visiting bethwrotethat.com