Ijeoma Kola in Andrea Iyamah Bikini rocking natural hair with a straw visor

Best Sunscreens for Black Women That Don’t Leave a White Cast

I know that black doesn’t crack and all, but it is the year of our Lord 2019 and guess what? Black women need sunscreen too!! Once I started taking my skincare very seriously, I read a lot about the importance of sunscreen especially when using products that contain alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) or retinols, which make your skin more sensitive to the sun. Without sunscreen, the pesky dark spots or hyperpigmentation that many black women struggle with only get darker. Which is literally the opposite of what we’re trying to accomplish. Anyway, over the last two years of my skincare journey I’ve tried many a sunscreen, and I’ve identified five of the best sunscreens for black women that don’t leave a white cast.

P.S. Sunscreens are usually classified as either mineral/physical sunscreens or chemical sunscreens. Mineral/physical sunscreens contain natural products like zinc or titanium oxide which reflect sun rays (and often are responsible for the white cast). Chemical sunscreens contain chemicals like avobenzone, oxybenzone, and octinoxate that absorb sun rays and convert them to heat before releasing them. There is ongoing debate on which is better for your skin and for the environment, so do your own research to decide if you prefer one particular kind.

Shiseido Urban Environment Oil-Free UV Protector Broad Spectrum Face Sunscreen SPF 42 – If you struggle with oily/combination skin, this sunscreen was made for you because it is MATTE. It has a light and watery consistency, which makes it easy to spread, especially over other skincare. Mineral & chemical sunscreen.

Dermalogica PowerBright TRx Pure Light SPF 50 – If you’re not into a 17 step makeup routine and want a sunscreen that also helps even out your skin tone, then this is the product for you. It also contains hyaluronic acid so great to use as a one step moisturizer/sunscreen combo, but will leave you on the more glistening side. Chemical sunscreen.

EltaMD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46 – This was actually the first sunscreen that I used and fell in love with, because it is specifically made for acne prone skin. It contains niacinamide and lactic acid so is another skincare sunscreen combo that is great for troubled skin, and I would say the finish is somewhere between the Shiseido matte and the Dermalogica glisten. Mineral & chemical sunscreen.

Beautycounter Countersun Mineral Sunscreen Mist SPF 30 – Now I had to include a body sunscreen in here because our bodies need sunscreen too, and I recently took this product with me to the beach and shook my head in sad remembrance of all the minutes I’ve wasted trying to rub in body sunscreen until the white went away. This spray on formula goes on white but immediately rubs on clear, making it a must-have for your beach bag. Mineral sunscreen.

Black Girl Sunscreen SPF 30 – I haven’t tried it myself because my local Target won’t let me be great but I’m including this brand because I’ve heard SO so many great things about it. Buying black owned products is always a plus, but apparently this lives up to its promise of absolutely no white cast. It does contain a lot of oils so I’m not sure how it holds up for oily/combo skin (some reviews say it’s on the oilier side), but at this price, it’s worth a try. Chemical sunscreen.

Swimsuit: Andrea Iyamah, Visor: Target, Sunglasses: Maui Jim, Duffel Bag: Away

What are the best sunscreens for black women that you’ve tried?

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  1. Thanks for your recommendations! I think I will definitely get the dermalogica one though I won’t lie I’m a bit confused about sunscreens in general. I read some article the other day mentioning the dangers of suncscreen generally sooo lol. But I know I need them for sure haha

    1. There’s an ongoing debate about the potential harm of some sunscreen ingredients which is why I’ve broken it down by chemical and physical in case you only wanted to stick to one kind!

  2. At the moment, I’ve been using Unsun Cosmetics Tinted Mineral Sunscreen in Medium/Dark. It’s another black women owned brand. It’s probably thicker in consistency than some people would like, but when applied correctly (dotted around face and neck, then rubbed in) it doesn’t have a white cast. Also, I’ve been using it for months without any breakouts on my acne-prone, combination skin OR any eye irritation. It’s a physical sunscreen that only contains zinc and titanium oxides which is better for sensitive skin and eyes. So far, I haven’t found anything comparable that meets all of these criteria. So, this is my one and only.

  3. I no longer use chemical sunscreens, but I love the Murad Invisiblur when I did. Now that I’m doing physical only, I am also using a Murad product: Murad City Skin Age Defense Broad Spectrum SPF 50. It is slightly tinted, so it doesn’t leave a cast.

  4. i like to sy its “black dont crack* as long as the ozone layer is intact” LOL! My fav is Bolden. black owned women owned (i believe one of them is even naija) scientifically backed formula’s and their daily moisturizer with 30spf is my ish! i Wear it all year round and it keeps my dry skin protected and dewy!

    1. Lol and considering the ozone layer is slowly failing us, we better get to protecting! I’ve tried Bolden in the past as well – I don’t remember my experience exactly but I think I wanted something with more skincare benefits (as most of the options I listed include). But they’re another good addition to the list!

  5. I don’t have a black owner sunscreen but I really appreciate the recommendation to buy one now. I used LaRoche-Rosay broad spectrum SPF50 on my face. I tend to forget the body. I heard shea butter was a sunscreen protector but I am not sure about that. I appreciate the information and will purchase one for my body