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I Have Darker Skin and Tried 14 Sunscreens—These 5 Were My Faves


Trust me: I know the importance of sunscreen. I know that even as a Black woman—contrary to popular belief—I'm not immune to skin cancer, the sun can increase my skin's signs of aging and hyperpigmentation. But, with all that being said, I still didn't want to wear it.

As a Black woman, sunscreen and I have not had the best relationship over the years. Flashbacks to tennis matches in high school haunt me, as my face was constantly covered in bright-white, thick, goopy lotion. It never blended with my skin tone and always left a white cast all over me (which, of course, I found to be quite embarrassing). Growing up, there weren't many good options on the market for people with my skin color; at least, not that I knew of. To make things worse, my skin is über sensitive, so breakouts were pretty consistent.

It wasn't until recently that I started to really research what was going to work for me. Maybe it was the little line that started creeping onto my forehead from what, I'm convinced, is from too many beach days sans sunscreen or the fact that I've been scolded by two beauty gurus when I told them I wasn't wearing it every day, but I decided it was probably time I get serious about adding this step to my morning routine. (Even when I'm not going outside!)

The journey for finding the right sunscreen wasn't actually all that easy. There were still some that made me feel like that high school tennis player who looked 10 shades lighter than she actually was, and I also suffered some breakouts from a few of the contenders, but in the end, I found my winners. I'm positive these would work on all skin tones, but for those with darker tones like mine, I highly recommend you give the following few a try. I promise your skin will thank you!

The Color: Like a translucent light tan. I 100% thought this was going to be too light for my skin—boy, was I wrong.

Thoughts: Okay, can we just take a moment to sit and admire this glow? I dabbed a little bit of Supergoop!'s Glow Stick above my cheekbones as well for good measure, plus added a tiny bit of wet blush, mascara, and lip gloss since I was going to meet a friend, but other than that there is nothing else on my skin. I was truly shocked by how everything looked on me. My glow lasted all evening, and my skin truly felt magnificent.

Product Highlights: Hyaluronic acid and vitamin B5 to boost moisture in the skin; sea lavender (I know, right?) that provides antioxidant protection; lastly, cocoa peptides that help protect the skin from blue-light damage.

The Color: Light-salmon pink. I know… but don't knock it 'til you've tried it.

Thoughts: Shout out to our sister brand, Versed! I feel like this brightened my skin up a bit without actually lightening the tone. There wasn't too much of a sunscreen-y smell, which I appreciated, and the formula itself wasn't too sticky. (Oh also, hello to the pimple on my skin from one of the not-so-good screens that I tried!)

Product Highlights: Provides protection from environmental and electronic pollution (my 10+ hours a day on IG) and the sun. You've got to love a triple whammy! And in true Versed fashion, it's made out of nothing but the best ingredients, such as moringa seed and sea fennel extracts.

The Color: Sheer white.

Thoughts: I mean, come on—just from the name I knew this was going to work for me. This brand was created by Black women for women of color. And despite the white coloring, it blended flawlessly with my skin: no residue, no stickiness, nothing. And it also feels like butter.

Product Highlights: All natural and infused with jojoba and avocado—need I say more?

The Color: Light pink.

Thoughts: Please excuse my headphones—this may or may not have been taken on a conference call. This stuff felt more like an expensive skincare product rather than sunscreen, and I was here for it. It came in a bottle with a pump (that just felt fancier for some reason?) and smelled delightful. I feel like you can kind of tell from the photo, but it really seemed to smooth out fine lines and give my skin a nice complexion.

Product Highlights: Not only does it protect against pollution, UVA and UVB radiation, and blue light, but it also hydrates and supports skin's collagen for firmness (aka why my skin looks so good). Sayōnara fine lines!

The Color: Light tan.

Thoughts: When I read this sunscreen was tinted, I was skeptical. This was a color that I thought was going to be way too light for my skin, but I was pleasantly surprised at the results. Here you can see that despite the 85-degree day, my skin stayed matte and shine-proof. My roommate looked over at me and literally thought I had just put on makeup. I'd say that's the greatest win you can get.

Product Highlights: EltaMD is specifically designed for acne-prone skin (which was super important to me; as I mentioned before, my skin is pretty sensitive). The formula is oil free and contains sodium hyaluronate, which ensures your skin gets moisture all day long.

This mattifying formula is seriously so good. It's completely clear and glides on so smoothly. It's a great one to keep in your purse to reapply throughout the day since it won't ruin your makeup!

I really can't speak highly enough of EltaMD products now—they're so good! This is the exact same formula as the one I featured earlier in the article just without a tint. (Sometimes you just want options.)

This is a fantastic mineral sunscreen option! Plus, it's another formula that protects against blue light from your computer, phone, or tablet.

I'm not really a stick sunscreen person, but if you are, then I'd definitely consider this guy.

I only got a sample of this, because I honestly can't justify the price at this stage in my life, but wow, it's good.

This also doubles as a moisturizer—just saying. Can you tell I have a thing for EltaMD?

My friend swears by this little tub of magic. She let me try it, and I was equally impressed. Plus, it's only $10 and perfect for on the go.

If you're looking for options to buy on a budget, might I recommend Neutrogena? I'm always impressed by how well this absorbs into my skin.

Up next: 17 Sheer Sunscreens That Are Actually Sheer on Black Girls, Too.