Sunscreen Formulas for Dark Skin Tones

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Say goodbye to the dreaded white cast.

By Marriska Fernandes

Date July 18, 2022

I’ve always been wary of sunscreen and avoided it for as long as I can remember. Outside of lathering on SPF at the beach, the reason I steered clear of these protective lotions on a day to day basis was because of the white cast they left on my dark skin. No matter the formula or how much I tried to blend it in, my complexion looked as if it had been smeared with an unflattering shade of paint.

The problem, of course, is that by avoiding sunscreen, my skin was left vulnerable to the sun’s harmful UV rays, increasing the risk of cancer and premature aging.

Thankfully, in recent years, some brands have stepped up their offering, keeping all skin tones in mind. Once I started to test out some of these formulas, my faith in sunscreen was renewed. In addition to not leaving behind any white residue, many are now formulated with skin-first ingredients like antioxidants, vitamin C and botanicals that leave skin glowing.

But with so many sunscreen formulas for dark skin tones on the market, it can feel overwhelming. So below, we round up some of our top picks so you can apply all the SPF you need worry-free.

This invisible, weightless, scentless primer’s matte, oil-free formula glides smoothly onto the skin, giving you shine control and a velvety finish. But the best part? The silky transparent cream leaves behind no residue, plus its gel texture feels weightless on the skin. With the addition of red algae to help protect against blue light emitted by electronic devices, this is easily one of my favourite picks!

If you’re into more of a dewy finish, look no further than the Supergoop! Glow sunscreen. This multitasking TikTok favourite is formulated with hyaluronic acid and vitamin B5 to hydrate, with SPF 40 and blue-light protection.

This lightweight, non-comedogenic, quick-drying sunscreen has a clear formula that works perfectly on dark skin tones, leaving behind no dreaded white cast. It contains zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, two physical sunscreen agents which reflect and scatter UV rays.

A great option for darker skin tones, this formula is lightweight and easily blends into the skin. It’s formulated with glycerin and Hydro Ionized Mineral Water that hydrates and soothes, with a powerful blend of plant extracts including lavender, aloe, broccoli, hibiscus and quinoa seed.

Japanese brand Tatcha’s skincare products take inspiration from traditions that go back centuries, and their sunscreen offering is no exception. The Silk is a weightless and hydrating mineral formula with SPF 50 protection from UVA/UVB rays. Promising to visibly even skin tone, this neutral formula goes on sheer and feels like a silk moisturizer, just like the name implies.

For those with dry skin, this invisible, broad-spectrum mineral SPF 30 is both lightweight and deeply hydrating. The super sheer lotion blends in quickly without a trace and leaves you with a soft, dewy finish. This has easily become a staple in my daily routine. The two standout ingredients are water lily to calm skin after UV exposure and squalane to help sunscreen glide effortlessly so your skin glows after just one application. What more could you ask for?

I call this my lazy BFF. It’s perfect for when you need to quickly apply sunscreen before going out. This lightweight, reef-friendly, SPF 30 mineral sunscreen is enriched with vitamins, antioxidants and soothing chamomile. The tinted formula easily blends into the skin for a dewy glow and — you guessed it — no white cast. I love using this one on a day to day basis because not only does it contain zinc oxide to shield skin from damaging UV but also ingredients like squalane for a softer and smoother look and vitamin E to help protect against free-radical damage.

This ultra-light cult favourite sunscreen delivers high broad-spectrum UVA and UVB protection. It’s a lightly tinted sunscreen formulated with 100 per cent mineral filters and is suitable for sensitive skin. Once you blend this in, you’re good to go from the gym to the beach to the patio and everywhere in between – it even works as a sweat and water resistant formula!

This is another skincare brand that is worth all the hype. This sheer sunscreen delivers powerful broad spectrum UVA/UVB protection and aids in the prevention of free radical and oxidative damage. It’s ideal for daily use without white residue or greasiness. Plus, it contains sunflower shoot extract that helps neutralize free radicals and exhibits strong anti-glycation properties.

This is a super lightweight physical sunscreen defense that is formulated for all skin types, including dark skin tones. Since it blends so easily, this is my go-to when I apply makeup because it layers well under foundations and is loaded with antioxidants to leave the skin looking plump.

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