Sun protection is something you need year-round, not just in the summer months, so it’s especially important to find a one that works for you. But if your sunscreen leaves a white or gray cast on your skin, you may be tempted to skip it. And unfortunately, this is a problem for many people with a darker skin tone.
All skin, including Black skin, should be protected from harmful UV rays, but not all sunscreens are inclusive. On brown and Black skin tones, they can look ashy, or leave a white cast or purple tint. Brands may advertise their sunscreens as “suitable for all skin tones,” but often that’s not the case ― especially if you’re applying the correct amount of sunscreen, which should be a thick layer.
Considering recent advances in technology, a sunscreen that’s not inclusive shouldn’t exist in the year 2021 ― and the industry is making strides to do better. For example, many mineral sunscreens (zinc is notorious for leaving a white cast) have progressed, catering to all skin tones.
If you’ve struggled to find a sunscreen that won’t leave a white cast on your skin, fret no more: We spoke to some amazing people with brown and Black skin ― doctors, content creators, makeup artists, beauty journalists and more ― who recommend their favorite sunscreens below. Read on to find out their top picks.
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Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen SPF 40
“I’ve definitely been asked this before, and honestly my answer is still the same. I love the Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen SPF 40. Naturally as a Black woman, my priorities are to find a sunscreen that absorbs well, will protect me and that doesn’t leave a weird ashy or blue tint on my skin. Because of Supergoop’s Unseen Sunscreen’s gel-like texture, it means it’s essentially invisible and there’s no weird tint or struggle when blending it in. It’s easily one of the best I’ve ever used.” — Abisola Omole, CEO and creative director of lifestyle brand Arva
“I really like Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen SPF 40. It is really lightweight and doesn’t leave a white cast on darker skin tones. It doesn’t really have a smell (which I quite like) and has a silky texture which sits nicely under makeup and works brilliantly as a primer.” — Sonia Khorana, cosmetic doctor and general practitioner with a special interest in dermatologyGet Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen SPF 40 for $34.
Paula’s Choice Resist Skin Restoring Moisturizer SPF 50
Bondi Sands Fragrance Free Facial Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50+
“SPF is always a very widely debated topic, and it can be especially tricky for Black and brown girls due to the white cast and price of a lot of the SPFs on the market. SPF should be cost effective so you can freely reapply it and not be worried about replacing the tube when it runs out. I like to opt for chemical SPFs because most formulas tend to be smooth and have little pull against the skin, which makes the application process a delight. I have chosen the Bondi Sands fragrance-free SPF because it is affordable and creamy!” — Alicia Lartey, skin specialistGet Bondi Sands Fragrance Free Facial Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50+ for $9.99.
Kate Somerville UncompliKated SPF 50 Setting Spray
ISEHAN Kiss Me Mommy UV Mild Gel SPF 33 PA+++
“My favorite white cast-free SPF is the Isehan Kiss Me Mommy UV Mild Gel. I love it because the gel texture instantly melts into my skin, requiring very minimal rubbing. It's lightweight enough for summer yet not drying at all, making it perfect in the winter too. Plus, the teddy bear packaging is too cute!” — Sharmili Rakhit, content creator
Get ISEHAN Kiss Me Mommy UV Mild Gel SPF 33 PA+++ for $12.88.
Bliss Block Star Invisible Daily Sunscreen SPF 30
“This is my favorite sunscreen. Why: Unlike other mineral sunscreens that claim to not leave a white cast, this blends effortlessly into a multitude of skin tones. It smooths onto the skin like a lightweight matte primer, leaving no greasy sheen or chalkiness behind. Added bonus is that it’s affordable and pregnancy safe. Sun protection throughout the day is imperative, and since I’m wearing makeup most days, the best way for me to do this is with the Supergoop! (re)setting powder with SPF 35
. Keep it in your purse or at your desk for easy reapplication.” — Ami Desai, beauty expert and digital content creatorGet Bliss Block Star Invisible Daily Sunscreen SPF 30 for $19.99.
La Roche-Posay Anthelios Lotion Spray Sunscreen SPF 60
“There’s a lot to love about this little spray. A lot. Firstly, it’s a speedy way to apply your SPF pretty effortlessly, which is one of the factors that really stops people from using SPF daily. What’s so great is that you literally just spray it on your skin (plus ears, plus decolletage) and you’re done. It works on my sensitive and eczema-prone skin without irritating it and doesn’t leave me looking gray and corpse-esque like so many SPFs can on dark skin tones. I know I’m a goth, but I never want my SPF to make me look like the undead. And this one keeps my skin looking very much alive!” — Anita Bhagwandas, beauty journalist and broadcasterGet La Roche-Posay Anthelios Lotion Spray Sunscreen SPF 60 for $24.99.
Black Girl Sunscreen SPF 30
Black Girl Sunscreen
“My favorite sunscreen is Black Girl Sunscreen. You’ll never catch me without a tube on hand. It’s moisturizing without leaving me looking greasy. Instead it gives me a healthy-looking glow! I love that it can be used for face and body and that they have a kids’ version
for my daughter!” — Danielle Thompson, content creatorGet Black Girl Sunscreen SPF 30 for $15.99.
Neostrata Sheer Physical SPF 50
Aveeno Positively Radiant Daily Moisturizer SPF 30
La Roche-Posay Oil-Free Anthelios Clear Skin SPF 60
“I truly love La Roche-Posay Oil-Free Anthelios Clear Skin SPF 60. Why I like it: It is an absorbing sunscreen that does not leave a white cast and can be used by ALL skin types (inclusion!). It is oil-free and the acne-prone person does not have to worry about it causing acne breakouts, and my patients do not report that it causes skin irritation (well-tolerated). It is broad-spectrum with high SPF 60, giving you the ongoing absorbing power of a chemical sunscreen that you don’t sweat off, to truly protect your skin tone and prevent ultraviolet radiation damage (ultra protection against 99% of UVB!). You can get this brand everywhere, online or at your favorite stores (availability).” — Margareth Pierre-Louis, dermatologist and medical director at Twin Cities DermGet La Roche-Posay Oil Free Anthelios Clear Skin SPF 60 for $19.99.
Elta MD Elements SPF 44
ISDIN Eryfotona Ageless SPF 50
“Eryfotona Ageless by ISDIN is so much more than just a sunscreen. Its tinted formula blends in to different skin types and it contains actives like DNA repairsomes to help repair damage caused by the sun, peptides to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and vitamin E, a potent naturally occurring antioxidant.” — SainiGet ISDIN Eryfotona Ageless SPF 50 for $66.
Glossier Invisible Shield SPF 35
“I use Glossier Invisible Shield every day, rain or shine. It’s virtually weightless, and aside from providing broad-spectrum protection, it gives me a slightly dewy finish that I love. Some commenters aren’t into that, but I like my complexion glowy versus matte.” — Khalea Underwood, freelance beauty editor
“My favorite sunscreen is Glossier Invisible Shield. I love this because as the name suggests, it’s invisible and I love its gel-like texture, which is perfect for my combination/oily skin. It’s also super affordable and I’ve repurchased it over and over again!” — Elise Gill, content creatorGet Glossier Invisible Shield SPF 35 for $25.
Dr. Dennis Gross Lightweight Wrinkle Defense SPF 30
Dr. Dennis Gross
“For SPFs, I typically prefer to use those from doctor- or derm-led brands, and Dr. Dennis Gross Lightweight Wrinkle Defense SPF 30 has become a firm favorite. Physical sunscreens using zinc oxide are notoriously hard to formulate for darker skin, but this one is truly invisible. With a finish that sits between glowy and silky, there’s no ashiness or white cast and I can go about my day feeling protected!” — Rhea Cartwright, beauty director at The StackGet Dr. Dennis Gross Lightweight Wrinkle Defense SPF 30 for $42.
Somme Institute Double Defense Day Moisturizer SPF 30
Supergoop! Play Everyday Lotion SPF 50
“My favorite SPF has to be the Supergoop! Play Everyday Lotion because most importantly it protects your skin from harmful UVA/UVB rays, but it is extremely complementary for my skin tone. Gone are the days where mineral SPF makes my skin look ashy and dry; this SPF leaves my skin glowing, moisturized and protected. I want them in BULK.” — Jessica Morgan, deputy editor of The Face
“Such a luxurious SPF with no gray cast whatsoever! I love the cruelty-free formula and it’s been one of my go to’s recently.” - Kaushal, lifestyle and beauty influencerGet Supergoop! Play Everyday Lotion SPF 50 for $32.