We’re smack dab in the middle of the dog days of summer, which means more time spent outdoors while wearing significantly less. Hello, thigh-hugging shorts, free-flowing skirts, and snug-fitting swimsuits!
And while getting back into nature is great for our vitamin D levels, this increased exposure to the sun, unfortunately, means a higher risk of sunburn and skin cancer.
If you’re a woman of color, melanin — or pigmentation of the skin — can aid in protection from the harmful side effects of the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays. This, however, doesn’t mean you can forego sunscreen.
In fact, one study found that although there’s a higher rate of melanoma among Caucasian people, the survival rate of melanoma in non-Caucasian individuals is significantly lower. The study went on to suggest that this, in part, is due to the need for better melanoma awareness among black, Asian, Pacific Islander, and Hispanic people.
Yet, as a woman of color, finding the right sunscreen can be difficult and raises a fair number of questions: Which sun protection factor (SPF) is right for me? Which brand of sunscreen would be most effective for my skin type? If I want to invest in a foundation, which brand offers a color that matches my skin tone and provides SPF protection?
If you’re in need of some guidance or want to learn more about the best sunscreens and SPF products on the market, you’re in luck: We asked the following four bloggers, all of whom are women of color, to share their favorite sun-protecting products. Here’s what they had to say.
My skin tends to be a mix of oily and dry, but the challenging part is that I have skin sensitivities to harsh chemicals.
My absolute favorite sunscreen is Black Girl Sunscreen, which goes on completely sheer and leaves absolutely no residue. I LOVE that it’s ultra-moisturizing with ingredients like carrot seed oil, jojoba oil, almond oil, avocado, and shea butter.
My second favorite SPF product is Bolden’s brightening moisturizer with SFP 30. This is another great product that goes on sheer without the gray tint. It’s nonsticky and keeps my skin pretty hydrated with just the right amount of glisten and glow.
Lastly, I like Unsun’s hand cream with SPF 15. It’s a fairly thick cream that you have to rub in, which I don’t mind. It works as a great hand moisturizer when you’re on the go.
All three of these brands are founded by women of color who pay special attention to folks who have melanin!
About me: Dominique Drakeford was raised in Oakland, California, and currently resides in Brooklyn, New York, where she’s an environmental educator, creative director, and community advocate. Drakeford’s passion is changing mainstream narratives on what sustainability looks like in practice while giving a voice to women of color.
As an avid lover of fashion, her website Dom’s Conscious Closet showcases how eclectic and sustainable street style can be. Additionally, as a fashion-forward activist, she’s written for numerous publications and partnered with over 20 global luxe sustainable fashion brands.
Her blog, MelaninASS (Melanin and Sustainable Style) is a vibrant communal space that discusses the issues and celebrates the success of communities of color in sustainable fashion, green beauty, and wellness spaces.
I’d describe my skin tone as being a darker complexion with warm, red undertones. I really enjoy Revlon’s ColorStay foundation (normal-dry) with SPF 20 for many reasons. For one, it’s an inexpensive drugstore foundation that provides great coverage without looking cakey or creasy. Also, it protects my skin from the sun’s rays! Meanwhile, Neutrogena’s Clear Face liquid lotion sunscreen with SPF 55 is perfect for someone with oily skin because of its oil-free formula. It doesn’t cause breakouts and has no white film!
Last but certainly not least, I use Supergoop’s Unseen sunscreen with SPF 40. Just like its name, it’s completely unseen — it’s insane! On top of being an undetectable sunscreen that you can wear on your bare skin, it also doubles as a great primer for makeup.
About me: Chizi Duru first took to the internet a few years ago to promote natural hair and fight against the underrepresentation of kinky hair textures. She now runs a YouTube channel that helps people love their natural hair by documenting her own journey.
Duru has worked with some of the biggest brands in the beauty and lifestyle industry, and her content has been featured in Teen Vogue, Buzzfeed, Refinery29, and more. You can follow her on YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
La Shell Reid Hoilett
My skin tone is dark (I’m from Trinidad) with warm undertones, and I have combination skin. My foundations are usually some shade of golden, caramel, sandalwood, or bronze. Neutrogena’s Clear Face liquid lotion sunscreen with SPF 55 is my favorite face sunscreen. It absorbs into the skin beautifully and doesn’t pill or leave a white or purple cast. There’s no oily residue, and it creates a great canvas for applying makeup. It also offers maximum protection against the sun’s harmful rays, has a great price point, and a little really goes a long way.
For my go-to day moisturizer when I’m not in the sun much and not in the mood to apply a full-on SPF, I choose Olay Complete lotion all-day moisturizer with SPF 15 for combination-oily skin. It keeps my skin so supple and soft while holding my oily T-zone at bay. I also use it in place of a face primer when I’m wearing minimal makeup or makeup that gives you a bit of a glow.
As an avid beach bum and outdoorsy person, easy-to-apply waterproof sunscreen is a must. What I love most about Banana Boat Sport Performance Ultramist sunscreen spray with Powerstay Technology is that it requires no rubbing in at all and has a powerful, even spray. This gives my body full and perfect coverage, resulting in the most insane glow. It’s ideal for beach and pool days!
About me: La Shell Reid Hoilett is 33 years old and works in project management by day and journalism by night. She says she’s lucky enough to be living her dream as the creator and editor-in-chief of One Pot Living, a lifestyle and beauty blog. When she’s not running around doing these things, you can find her whipping up a green smoothie, helping adults learn to read and write, and creating new skin care routines.
Karla Borders Pope
I have a medium complexion with golden undertones. During the summer, my skin is oily and prone to breakouts, so I must be cognizant of the products I use to ensure they don’t make the problem worse.
For years, Palmer’s Eventone suncare sunscreen stick SPF 50 has been my go-to for sun protection. I love that it’s essentially mess-free, compact, and smells delightful. Plus, it glides on effortlessly and melts into my skin without leaving a trace of chalky residue.
The natural moisturizers — shea butter, cocoa butter, and coconut oil — leave my skin with a slight sheen without any irritation or unsightly greasiness. As a brown-skinned woman, finding an SPF that’s fully transparent and complements my skin is a major win. Another bonus is that it’s paraben-free.
I always keep a tube of Jane Iredale’s LipDrink with SPF 15 in my purse. It keeps my lips moisturized, provides sun protection, and adds a slight pinkish-purplish tint that’s perfect for summer. It can work alone as a simple balm or serve as a buildable base for a lipstick or stain. Plus, it’s made with all-natural ingredients.
Finally, when it comes to coverage, nothing works better for me than Dermablend’s cover creme with SPF 30 in honey beige. I’ve been using it for more than a decade and it never fails. Even though it’s a foundation, I only use it as an under-eye concealer and to hide hyperpigmentation marks and blemishes.
While it may seem thick at first, with a light application, it works wonders without looking cakey. It instantly makes me appear wide awake (show me a mother who isn’t sleep-deprived!) and hides every imperfection.
About me: Karla Borders Pope is a busy wife and mom of two who works full time as an editor and writer. She also runs Brown Girl Gumbo, a beauty, lifestyle, and parenting blog for women of color. Originally from Chicago, she’s called Brooklyn home for more than 15 years. When she’s not writing, she’s exploring the Big Apple with her family.