I was so used to hearing the saying “Black don’t crack” from elders in my family, that I grew up thinking my melanin-rich skin was pretty invincible. But I learned the hard way that Black can crack when I experienced peeling skin after lying out in the sun in Miami’s South Beach during a college spring break trip — and more recently while hanging around sunny California for Coachella 2017.
To be honest, the first scare was enough encouragement for me to get serious about sunscreen. From there, I started wearing it as much as possible. The only roadblock was finding a sunscreen that didn’t leave a white film behind, which on dark skin can often look ashy. There were many times when I found myself literally chalking it up or secretly skipping sunscreen altogether, all in the name of keeping an even tone.
Fast-forward years later, and skin care brands have gotten a lot more advanced and inclusive with their formulations to create sunscreens that sing “now you see me, now you don’t” on dark skin — and I’m happily dancing along to the tune. After smoothing on close to a dozen new sunscreens that claim to “work for all skin tones,” I came across seven standouts. Keep reading to find out exactly why each one is so special.
Glossier Invisible Shield SPF 35
This bite-size tube really lives up to its name. The gel-based texture feels as light as a feather, and the product disappears immediately into skin, so it’s perfect to wear alone or under makeup. Speaking of which, it doesn’t immediately oxidize or disrupt any foundation or concealers like some other sunscreens do. Long story short, it’s absolutely exquisite and deserves a permanent spot in your medicine cabinet, as well as in your carry-on. ($34, glossier.com)
Bolden SPF 30 Brightening Moisturizer
When it comes to getting skin care right for people of color, this brand is at the head of the class. As noted on the packaging, “specifically formulated for darker skin tones,” this gem truly delivers. After about one to two pumps, the creamy sunscreen melts into skin like butter without leaving even an inkling of white residue behind. Plus, it’s loaded with nourishing ingredients such as vitamin C to help keep your complexion glowing and healthy. ($28, boldenusa.com)
Cover FX Clear Cover Sunscreen Broad-Spectrum SPF 30
It’s no wonder this baby won a Best in Black Beauty Award from Essence magazine. The texture is one of the clearest formulations I’ve come across, and it goes on clear too. Another bonus? It’s packed with squalane and natural sesame extract to give your skin the good loving it deserves while also protecting it from harmful UV rays. ($45, coverfx.com)
Drunk Elephant Umbra Tinte Physical Daily Defense SPF 30
Don’t let the light tan color scare you. This sunblock blends down to look like you are wearing next to nothing in a matter of seconds. Formulated with powerful antioxidants such as sunflower-shoot extract and grape juice extract, this creamy sunscreen will leave your skin wanting to thank you for slathering it on, giving you a beautiful glow that’s unstoppable. ($36, drunkelephant.com)
Farmacy Green Screen Daily Environmental Protector Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 30
Blending this naturally derived sunscreen into the skin is almost like experiencing a delightful out-of-body experience that’s hard to believe. How many times in life have you found a sunscreen that’s environmentally friendly, smells nice, vanishes into all skin tones, and has pretty packaging? Ding! This one does. Aside from what’s obvious (it blocks harmful UVA/UVB rays), it also has an invisible shield that disrupts age-accelerating radicals emitted from computers and smartphones from touching your skin. ($36, farmacybeauty.com)
Supergoop! Sun-Defying Sunscreen Oil with Meadowfoam SPF 50
When it comes to heavy-hitting sunscreens with higher SPFs, we all know by now, things tend to really get tricky. However, there are no gimmicks involved when it comes to this sun-protecting emollient that so effortlessly seeps into the pores of the skin without the struggle of the extra muscle that can sometimes come with attempting to massage on heavier cream formulas. There is no white cast left behind, and surprisingly, this oil-based pick leaves skin hydrated without feeling super greasy. ($12 for 1 oz., supergoop.com)
Urban Skin Rx DermShield All Skin Sun Protection Daily Moisturizer SPF 30
If you have oily skin and tend to just get oiler with every layer of product you put on your face, fear no more. This heroic skin-protecting product saves the day because it has mattifying properties that will help to keep your face from looking like you rolled around in a Crisco. It is mineral-based and transparently blends seamlessly in less than in a minute.
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