The summer is a time for outdoor activities — swimming, outdoor concerts, vacations and more. Many people impatiently wait for that summer glow that comes after hours under the sun. But that perfect tan may come at the expense of your health, especially if you are not taking precautions to protect your skin. On more than one occasion, I have heard someone say, “I’m not wearing sunscreen because I want to tan!” The reality is, however, that skipping sunscreen does more damage than good.
With different skin tones come different risks. Melanin, the pigment responsible for how dark our skin is, has an effect on the amount of UV rays our skin absorbs. For those with lighter skin, less melanin means there is a higher risk of sunburn and sun damage. For those with darker skin, melanin does provide some natural protection against UV rays, but not enough to protect against skin cancer completely.
Therefore, regardless of your skin tone, sunscreen is a must. While individuals with less melanin find it rather easy to slather on the sunscreen, individuals with darker skin don’t have that advantage. Many sunscreens, due to their white color, display a white cast that can make individuals look pale and ashy. Who would want to cover up that summer tan? Luckily, there are many sunscreens out there for individuals with darker skin tones that allow for that summer shine to peek through while still staying protected.
My current go-to is the Dr. Dennis Gross All-Physical Dark Spot Sun Defense Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 50. This product retails for $42 at Sephora, but I purchased a full-sized product from Sephora’s Sun Safety kit, which comes with a number of different suncare products for only $39. I highly recommend purchasing this package if you want to try a variety of different products. Overall, this product initially leaves a slight white cast but after rubbing it in for a few minutes and letting it sink into my skin, it’s invisible. It also doesn’t cause any pilling when under makeup and layers well with other skin products. My skin tone, however, is relatively tan as my background is Middle Eastern, so keep in mind that the product may look different on individuals with darker skin.
Another favorite of mine is the Murad Essential-C Day Moisture Broad Spectrum SPF 30 PA+++. It is on the pricier side, retailing for $65. This sunscreen, unlike many others, holds a clean, citrus scent. It leaves no white cast and in desperation, I have also used it on my arm and it blended in flawlessly. It also serves as a moisturizer and the vitamin C helps brighten dark spots.
For a more mattifying sunscreen, a great option is the Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen. The formula is colorless rather than white, and is advertised as “makeup-gripping.” It’s a great option for those with darker skin who want a more natural finish.
As the skincare industry has begun to fill in the gaps where inclusivity lacks, more products have been created for individuals with darker skin tones. One such company is Black Girl Sunscreen, which was founded by a Black woman and is targeted for those who want to avoid that white cast and ashy tone. The company also has a matte option as well as a product for kids. It’s also more affordable than other options, retailing for about $15.99 at Target.
Another company that provides a wide array of products with SPF is La Roche-Posay. There are over a dozen options depending on the formula, SPF level and skin concern you have. One great option for individuals with darker skin is the Anthelios Clear Skin Dry Touch Sunscreen SPF 60. It has a matte finish and is great for those with normal to oily skin. Some people, however, have experienced pilling, so it’s recommended to press the product into your skin rather than rubbing it.
Keep in mind that most sunscreens or SPF products should be applied 15-30 minutes before sun exposure. SPF should also be reapplied throughout the day, whether using a cream product, spray or powder. There are so many options out there, even for people of color, so remember to apply your SPF daily to protect your skin and maintain a healthy glow.