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7 Best Invisible Sunscreens for Darker Skin Tones

Get loads of SPF protection without the chalky white residue


spinner image A close up of a woman applying sunscreen on her legs
RuslanDashinsky/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

 

For women with deeper tones, the quest to find a sunscreen without that infamous white cast can be a challenging one. But thanks to new formulations, protecting dark skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays can be done seamlessly. And, believe it or not, there are options to choose from.

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If you don’t know by now, consistently wearing a sunscreen is your skin’s first line of defense against harsh sunlight, 365 days a year. “From an antiaging perspective, [it’s] going to be your biggest insurance policy to make sure that all of the other treatments that you’re doing are not going down the drain,” says Yolanda Lenzy, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist and owner of Lenzy Dermatology & Hair Loss Center in Massachusetts.

What’s more, excess UV damage can worsen hyperpigmentation and put you at greater risk of developing skin cancer. “Our melanin is amazing and it’s beautiful, but it’s not 100 percent protective,” says Michelle Henry, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist at Skin & Aesthetic Surgery of Manhattan in New York City, who recommends broad-spectrum sunscreens with SPF 30 for daily use, and SPF 50 if outside for longer than an hour.

Here are some melanin-friendly sunblocks worth trying.

spinner image A bottle of Black Girl Sunscreen SPF 30
Black Girl Sunscreen

1. Black Girl Sunscreen SPF 30 ($15.99, Target.com)

This Black-owned brand sunscreen was created with melanin in mind. Its chemical formula, which uses active filters that absorb UV rays before they penetrate your skin, is non toxic. Great for your face and body, this moisturizing sunscreen also boasts a blend of natural ingredients, such as avocado to hydrate and sunflower oil to calm inflammation.

spinner image A bottle of ISDIN Eryfotona Ageless sunscreen
ISDIN

2. ISDIN Eryfotona Ageless ($70, Isdin.com)

Designed to target photoaging, this 100 percent mineral formula with SPF 50 contains zinc oxide to block UV rays. Lenzy says this sunscreen is her favorite, specifically for its emulsifying effect. “Emulsions are nice because [they’re lightweight], and this particular product [is] tinted, so it blends [well],” she explains. It also consists of photolyase enzymes to repair sun damage, and peptides to stimulate collagen production.

Good to know: Mineral sunscreens often use physical blockers (zinc oxide and titanium dioxide) to deflect UV rays and often leave a white cast. But, according to Henry, these ingredients are micronized (i.e., reduced to fine particles) in modern formulas, making them less visible on darker skin.

spinner image A bottle of Unsun Cosmetics Everyday Mineral Tinted Face Sunscreen
Unsun Cosmetics

3. Unsun Cosmetics EVERYDAY Mineral Tinted Face Sunscreen ($17.99, UnsunCosmetics.com)

Another Black-owned brand, this lightweight, water-resistant formula with SPF 30 is mineral based, and promises seamless application on deeper hues. It’s also crafted with skin-loving ingredients such as shea butter for ultra moisture, and green tea leaf extract for repairing skin damage and slowing the signs of aging.

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spinner image A bottle of Doctor Dennis Gross Skincare All-Physical Lightweight Wrinkle Defense Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 30
Sephora

4. Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare All-Physical Lightweight Wrinkle Defense Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 30 ($42, Sephora.com)

Thanks to the transparent, non-nano zinc oxide, this product claims to blend effortlessly into the skin while combating fine lines and wrinkles. Packed with antioxidants, such as lingonberry and sea buckthorn, this protective formula can serve as a shield against UV rays and blue light, as well as free-radical damage.

spinner image A bottle of EltaMD UV Clear Broad Spectrum SPF 46
EltaMD

5. EltaMD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46 ($37, EltaMD.com)

Trusted by dermatologists, this soothing sun protector is well-suited for sensitive skin, as it’s formulated to combat new acne and fade blemishes. It also acts as a multitasker for mature skin, because it contains lactic acid, a chemical exfoliator that speeds up the skin cell turnover rate and reduces dullness as well as the appearance of fine lines.

spinner image A bottle of MELEDew The Most Sheer Facial Moisturizer with SPF 30 Sunscreen for Melanin Rich Skin
Target

6. MELÉ Dew The Most Sheer Facial Moisturizer with SPF 30 Sunscreen for Melanin Rich Skin ($13.99, Target.com)

Cofounded by Unilever executives Esi Eggleston-Bracey and Sarah Irby, and developed by dermatologists of color, MELÉ makes melanin the focal point. A Glamour beauty award winner, this dewy cream claims to absorb quickly without a hint of residue. It’s also rich in vitamin E for all-day hydration and niacinamide to target hyperpigmentation. Need another reason to consider this brand? All products are under $30.

spinner image A bottle of Bolden SPF 30 Brightening Moisturizer
Bolden

7. Bolden SPF 30 Brightening Moisturizer ($28, BoldenUSA.com)

Sunscreen and vitamin C are a dynamic duo when it comes to diminishing dark spots, and this Black-owned brand moisturizer with SPF can help you reap the benefits of both. A powerful antioxidant, vitamin C tackles hyperpigmentation and says “so long” to signs of sun damage. Another key ingredient is squalane, an emollient that promotes soft, supple skin while fighting free radicals that speed up the aging process.

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