Some skincare myths that need to be dispelled: Coconut oil is a good moisturizer (it's not); makeup wipes count as cleansing your skin (they don't); and not everyone needs sunscreen (they do). That last myth particularly irks me, because believing it can endanger your health. For so long, we've been told that people who have dark skin don't need to use sunscreen religiously, and it's just not true.
Yes, dark skin needs sunscreen, too.
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In this myth's defense, there are some reasons why people might still believe it. For one thing, we've been taught that the main sign of sun damage is an itchy, red sunburn. For people with darker complexions, that sign is not always present. But redness is not the only sign of damage, even for people with pale skin. Sun damage caused by the sun's rays is present within skin cells and may not always be visible to the eye. Everyone, regardless of skin tone, is vulnerable to skin cancer.
Sunscreen hasn't always been formulated for darker skin tones.
While sunscreen should be worn every day, it's also true that there weren't always a ton of sunscreens available that were designed and marketed for people of color. So many sunscreens leave white casts that don't blend well on darker skin tones, for example.
But things are finally changing, and now many brands—including some truly incredible Black-owned beauty brands—are creating sunscreen formulated specifically for dark skin tones, designed to protect without leaving a messy cast. Our favorites, below.
Here's a sunscreen that oily skin can get behind. Black Girl Sunscreen's Make It Matte formula has the consistency of a silky smooth serum, goes on invisible, and leaves behind a natural matte finish. This product even doubles as a makeup primer.
Mineral sunscreens have a rep for being tough to blend, but this tinted sunscreen is formulated to work on all skin tones, and so lightweight it sinks right in. On the ingredient front, it also contains niacinamide to promote even skin tone, tremella mushroom for hydration, and jojoba oil and vitamin E to nourish skin.
The Multipurpose Sunscreen
Part SPF, part moisturizer, and part makeup primer, this three-in-one product does it all. Plus, it does all that without leaving a trace—just mineral sun protection and natural-looking radiance.
Tinted and Mattifying
Some sunscreens leave a greasy finish, but this tinted mineral sunscreen has a matte look and oil-absorbing properties. Plus, it’s ultra-lightweight, so you won’t even know it’s there (although thankfully, your now-protected skin will).
The Invisible Sunscreen
This cult-favorite invisible sunscreen feels like the smoothest pore-erasing primer. It has a gel-like consistency that is so clear you might even wonder if you put anything on. For anyone who doesn't want to spend any time rubbing in SPF, this product is a no-brainer.
The Glowing Skin Option
This moisturizer with SPF 30 is perfect for people who need some extra hydration. This broad spectrum SPF protects from photodamage while giving the skin a lovely glow.
The Weather-Proof Wonder
Shiseido's Ultimate Sun Protector goes on invisible and is so lightweight, it can even be reapplied on top of your makeup (just give it a few minutes to disappear). Another key benefit to consider with this gem: It powers up when exposed to heat, sweat, or water, so your skin is never compromised.
The Athlete's Pick
This sheer mineral sunscreen, created with Venus Williams, is perfect for women who are active and don't want to sweat their SPF into their eyes. Even better? This sunscreen has managed to combine the skin benefits of a mineral sunscreen while not leaving a noticeable white cast on darker skin tones.
The Chemical Sunscreen
Another favorite from Black Girl Sunscreen, this sunscreen only uses the best possible ingredients while still drying completely clear. White casts will be a thing of the past, and naturally derived ingredients help sooth and hydrate the skin.
The Soothing Choice
If you're prone to sunburns or have sensitive skin, try this calming solution. This lightweight sunscreen is suitable for the face and body and quickly absorbs into the skin for an ultra-hydrating and velvety smooth finish.
The Mineral Spray
This water-resistant sunscreen spray is perfect for the no-muss-no-fuss consumer. It's incredibly easy to apply, and the sheer formula makes it perfect for all skin tones. This mineral formula is packed with vitamin C, won't make you look greasy or gray, and promises substantial sun protection.
The Tinted Choice
Unsun, which makes a collection of tinted sunscreens specifically for darker skin tones, wants their consumers to have the best of both worlds: A healthy mineral SPF, and no white cast at all. These tinted sunscreens not only protect the skin from the sun's rays, but also leaves your skin looking gorgeous.
The Parched-Skin Pick
For skin that is in serious need of intense hydration, this moisturizer with SPF has you covered. It doesn't feel greasy or leave a residue, but it contains a sizable amount of Argan oil for all-day moisture. If sunscreen clings to dry areas, this product solves both problems at once.
The Setting Spray
If setting sprays are part of your makeup routine, swap this one in to add some sun protection. This spray not only contains SPF 50, but also won't smudge your makeup, unlike some other sunscreen sprays. Now there's no excuse not to reapply throughout the day!
The Even Tone Cream
If sun damage has caused irregular skin tone or dark marks, this SPF helps fade those marks while also giving the skin the hydration it craves. Two birds, one stone.
The Sheer Shield
There's a reason this sunscreen has a massive following. It is a completely clear formula, making it perfect for darker complexions. It also smells like summertime, so it never feels like a chore to apply.
The New Classic
With the launch of Fenty Skin, Rihanna has redefined skincare routines. Everything is dual-purposed, and this product is no exception. It's a moisturizer with SPF 30, goes on without a trace, and smells like heaven. Plus, when you inevitably finish the bottle, simply buy a replacement capsule and keep the outside packaging. If it's good enough for Rihanna, it's good enough for me.
The Clean Sunscreen
This lightweight sunscreen—which is cruelty free, vegan, and over 70 percent organic—is perfect for people who want to stay protected from the sun while also being kind to the environment. It contains plant extract to help nurture the skin while keeping sun damage at bay. Plus, the package is recyclable, so there's no guilt involved in clicking "purchase."
Chelsea Hall is the Assistant Fashion and Beauty Editor at Marie Claire, where she covers celebrity style, fashion trends, skincare, makeup and anything else tied into the world of fashion and beauty
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