As someone with dark skin, I spent most of my life not really giving sunscreen much attention. I have vivid memories of my lighter skinned friends slathering themselves with the stuff at the beach and pool, the smell so distinct that one sniff of it brings me back to some pool party in grade school. My bottle of sunscreen, on the other hand, mostly stayed in my backpack, never really seeing the light of day and only used when I didn’t want to feel left out. Sunscreen just felt like a waste of time because I figured that, as a black girl, I didn’t really need it. I’ve only had one sunburn in my life (on my nose, and it sucked), and as I got older I bought into the idea that black skin is its own sunscreen, so why bother?
Only within the past couple of years have I learned how foolish I was for underestimating the value of some good SPF. Fun fact: People with dark skin get skin cancer and black people in particular have a high mortality rate. But sunscreen’s importance goes beyond that. It helps prevent discoloration from worsening and fights pre-mature signs of aging. And it’s basically essential if you’re using acne-busting skincare products, because your chances of getting burned increases due to the light-sensitive ingredients.
In other words, I took a big ol’ L, and I’m trying to make up for years of sunscreen ignorance.
The primary way that I’m trying to incorporate sunscreen into my life is through facial beauty products, from moisturizers to makeup. The struggle is real, especially since I can’t use products with SPF that leave a white cast due to my dark skin, and anything that feels too oily or heavy is an absolute no-go for my acne prone skin. Luckily, I’ve managed to find and get recommended some products that fulfill my criteria that you guys will probably love too. So check out these 12 SPF products you’ll actually want to use on your face. No grease balls here.
1. Biore Sarasara Aqua Rich Watery Essence SPF 50+
This right here is what we call a cult beauty product. Skincare obsessives of all skin types–from dry to oily and acne-prone–rave about this lightweight, gel-like sunscreen that isn’t even sold in American drugstores, but is instead most accessible via Amazon or your nearest Korean/East Asian beauty supply shop. Boasting an SPF 50 protection and clocking in at less than $10, this sunscreen is affordable and will protect your skin without leaving a white cast or a grease slick. Give it a try!
2. Murad Oil-Control Mattifier SPF 15
As someone with acne-prone skin who hates greasy skincare products, finding a moisturizer with SPF that my skin doesn’t hate is a struggle. But I’m currently loving this matte SPF 15 moisturizer from Murad. It has a lotion-like look and consistency, but it sinks in to the skin really nicely without feeling heavy. Plus, it wears well under makeup and acts as a light primer, but if you’re super picky about setting your makeup, you might want to use some setting spray on top for extra security.
3. Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 20
When it comes to high quality tinted moisturizer, Laura Mercier’s is the GOAT. Sure, it’s not cheap, but you’re getting a lot of product and a little goes a long way. Plus, the color range is pretty damn wide, which is great if you’re dark and have a hard time finding a tinted moisturizer that matches your skin tone. This will end up being your go-to in hotter weather when you’re less interested in wearing heavy foundations. It’s also available in an oil-free and luminous version as well.
4. NYX BB Cream
Remember when BB and CC creams were all the rage a few years back? Well, they can still be a really useful element of your beauty routine, even if the hype has died down. This NYX BB cream has been showered with great reviews since its debut and is affordable to boot. The color range is seriously limited, but if your skin tone fits, you’ll be thrilled to use this for light coverage or as a primer.
5. COVER FX Clear Cover Invisible Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 30
If you’re not here for thick, goopy sunscreens on your face, you’ll absolutely love the Cover FX sunscreen. It has a silicone-like consistency and absorbs into the skin very quickly. Rub it into your skin and in seconds it’ll feel like it was never there. Plus, it doesn’t leave a hint of a white cast, so dark skinned girls are absolutely in the clear. If you want a bit of a splurge, this is the one to splurge on.
6. BareMinerals Complexion Rescue Tinted Hydrating Gel Cream Broad Spectrum SPF 30
If you’re looking for a product that provides medium coverage, SPF protection, and leaves your skin hydrated, then this BareMinerals tinted gel cream is for you. It feels really smooth on the skin and doesn’t feel heavy in the slightest. It’s so moisturizing and pigmented that it’ll easily replace a few steps in your beauty routine in the morning. Plus, a little goes a long way, so you can keep this tube for a few months easily.
7. Bare Republic Mineral Sunscreen Face Lotion SPF 30
If you want a basic, no-frills sunscreen for your face that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg, Bare Republic has you covered. This physical (as opposed to chemical) sunscreen glides on easily and, despite its lotion texture, won’t leave behind a greasy sensation or an ashy looking tint. It’s lightweight too, which is a big plus, especially in the summertime.
8. Peter Thomas Roth Instant Mineral SPF 45
You know what I always find frustrating? For the best SPF protection, you’re technically supposed to reapply your SPF every couple of hours if you’ve been out and about in the sun. Uh, who has the time to do that and who would even want to? Especially if they’re already wearing makeup! But there might be a solution: Peter Thomas Roth’s Instant Mineral SPF. This brush consists of mineral makeup that is packed with SPF protection, so you can just brush the powder onto your skin instead of smearing sunscreen all over your face again. Now, will this give you as much protection as a traditional sunscreen? Probably not. But if you want to try to get as much SPF protection as possible, this is worth a try.
9. La Roche Posay Anthelios 60 Ultra Light Sunscreen Fluid
This sunscreen has great reviews and is included in plenty of best sunscreen roundups, including ones for dark skin. This SPF 60 (yes, 60!) sunscreen is great if you want a lightweight, minimalist approach to sun protection that can easily blend into your beauty routine. layer over moisturizer or serums (or alone) and follow with the rest of your makeup routine, easy peasy! It’s not the cheapest sunscreen, but you get a fair amount of product and it’s super easily accessible anywhere from your drugstore, to Ulta, to online retailers like Amazon.
10. Tarte Amazonian Clay 12-Hour Full Coverage Foundation SPF 15
Maybe you already have a moisturizer or primer that you love and you don’t want to change it for a little SPF protection. What then? Well, are you willing to give a foundation with SPF in it a try? If you prefer full-coverage makeup, Tarte’s Amazonian Clay is going to be your new favorite SPF foundation. When I say full coverage, I mean it; it is full coverage. One application made my dark spots disappear completely, and its matte finish kept oil at bay for hours. So if you’re in the market for a new foundation and want a little sun protection, give this a go.
11. Kate Somerville UncompliKated SPF 50 Soft Focus Makeup Setting Spray
Does your setting spray have SPF in it? Probably not. Would you be willing to try one that did? If so, give this Kate Sommerville SPF 50 setting spray a try. It’ll provide your face with a nice even coat of sun protection and you can apply it throughout the day, because it’s recommended that you reapply your SPF every two hours or so if you’re getting sun exposure.
12. It Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC Cream with SPF 50+
If you want one product that moisturizes, provides sun protection, and offers foundation-like coverage that looks killer all day, then you should consider giving It Cosmetics’ CC cream a try. Frankly, I was shook but how many stellar reviews it has on Ulta, and for a CC cream it has a shockingly respectable range of colors. This is also great for those of you who want a product that you can easily carry around with you and reapply without making a mess.
Admit it, do you wear an SPF everyday or nah? Tell us in the comments!