- The Best Sunscreens for Dark Skin, According to Experts
- We asked a dermatologist what to look for in a mineral sunscreen — here are 7 recommendations at every budget
- The Problem Sunscreen Poses for Dark Skin
- Why a Mineral Sunscreen Will Never Be Invisible
- Invisible mineral sunscreen simply doesn’t exist
- How to reduce the white tint from mineral sunscreens…
- Some other good things to keep in mind…
- “OK, so which product is right for me?”
- 5 of the Worst Sunscreen Problems and How to Fix Them
- Sunscreen is Only Necessary If You Burn
- Sunscreen Feels Too Heavy/Greasy
- Sunscreen Gives Your Skin a White Cast
- Sunscreen Chemicals Are Harmful
- Sunscreen is Too Hard to Re-Apply
- The 20 Best Sunscreens for People of Color in 2020 – Sun Protection for Dark Skin
- None Of These Mineral Sunscreens Will Make You Look A Ghost
- Most Satisfying To Mineral SPF Newbies: Coola Matte Mineral Sunscreen
- Most Fun to Share: Dr. Dennis Gross’ Sheer Mineral Sun Spray
- Most Portable: Supergoop Mineral Stick
- Most Reliable: Cyberderm Simply Zinc
- Most-est Proximity to Frank Ocean: Unsun Sunscreen
- Most Favored by the Editors: Josh Rosebrook Day Cream
The Best Sunscreens for Dark Skin, According to Experts
Although dark skin does have some built-in sun protection (thanks, melanin), it’s still imperative to use SPF to protect it. While sun-induced skin cancer is rarer in darker skin tones, it can happen, and is often caught at a much later stage. “It tends to be more advanced, with poorer outcomes by the time the patient walks in the door,” says Caroline Robinson, M.D.
, dermatologist and founder of Tone Dermatology, a practice that specializes in alopecia and ethnic skin dermatology. She says this is partly due to a lack of education of the various risk factors for skin cancer in darker skin tones. Melanin also makes darker skin more highly prone to hyperpigmentation, which can be brought on by sun damage (and pimples, and, says Dr.
Robinson, “anything that causes inflammation”). Consistent SPF usage is one of the best ways to avoid this, and some sunscreen products contain ingredients to address hyperpigmentation head on.
For patients with stubborn dark marks she recommends reaching for formulas that contain zinc oxide (found in many tinted formulas) which protects skin from the sun, and indoor light (including from our screens).
There are two types of sun protection: physical (which means the sunblock sits on top of the skin and reflects the sun’s rays) and chemical(which absorb into the skin, then absorb UV rays, convert the rays into heat, then releases them from the body). Both options, Dr.
Robinson says, are safe options for people of color, and some formulas are a mix of the two. Whatever you choose, it should have an SPF of at least 30 (although higher won’t hurt). And ultimately, the best sunscreen, as Miami based dermatologist Laura Scott, M.D.
, says, “is one you’ll actually use.”
EltaMD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46
Almost every dermatologist we spoke to name-dropped Elta MD UV Clear Broad Spectrum SPF 46, a chemical-and-physical hybrid option with high levels of zinc-oxide. “I recommend this all the time in my office,” says Dr. Laura Scott.
“It’s got niacinamide that calms inflammation and fades dark marks, and a small amount of lactic acid to help gently exfoliate and keep skin glowing.” Three of our other experts mentioned it was safe for acne-prone skin.
And according to Rose MD Skincare founder and dermatologist Rose Ingleton, MD, it goes on crystal clear: “It’s very sheer and does not leave a gray hue on the skin,” she says.
NeoStrata Sheer Hydration SPF 35
Ideal for anyone dealing with hyperpigmentation, NeoStrata Sheer Hydration SPF 35 contains grape seed extract (which is packed with dark-mark-fading Vitamin E) and is one of Dr. Ingleton’s top picks. “I sunscreens that absorb quickly and are not visible when applied to darker skin,” she says. “This is lightweight, oil-absorbing and formulated to help to reduce the appearance of dark spots.”
Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen SPF 40
“Supergoop Unseen Sunscreen is a very popular choice among my patients,”says Chaneve Jeanniton, M.D., the founder of Brooklyn Face & Eye and skin-care brand Epi.logic. “It wears completely sheer and works very well as a makeup primer as well.” In addition to going on clear, it’s also oil-free, packed with antioxidants, and reef-safe (meaning it’s octinoxate-free).
Boscia Skin Perfecting BB Cream Broad SPF 30 in La Jolla
Skin-care/makeup hybrids are especially popular right now, particularly tinted sunscreens and BB creams that offer skin protection and coverage in one swipe. But it can be difficult to find formulas that blend seamlessly into dark skin — many turn up gray or ashy.
Boscia’s Skin Perfecting BB Cream Broad SPF 30 is an exception: “It comes in a dark shade, and blends well” says Dr. Scott, noting they “could still use a darker shade or two.
” In addition to sun protection it also contains turmeric, rice germ extract and iron oxides which “protects against all sorts of external irritants and can help fade dark marks.”
Tizo 3 Tinted Facial Mineral SPF40 Sunscreen
Mineral sunscreens get a bad rap for their tendency to be chunky and leave a ghostly white cast, and it’s true: Good tinted options are hard to come by.
But this tinted face option from Tizo is a longtime favorite of Chauncey Barbulescu, M.D., a Colorado-based dermatology resident.
The mineral formula is formulated without oil, parabens, and fragrance, making it a good option for sensitive skin types.
Unsun Mineral Tinted Sunscreen SPF 30
Unsun is one of the few sunscreen brands founded by a woman of color (Katonya Breaux, who just so happens to be Frank Ocean’s mom) for women of color.
Its tinted mineral formula was designed specifically for dark skin and works well across a wide range of skin tones — a rarity, according to dermatologist and Derma Di Colore founder Carlos A. Charles, MD.
In addition to broad spectrum protection it’s also lightweight and contains nourishing ingredients shea butter, coconut oil, and vitamin E.
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We asked a dermatologist what to look for in a mineral sunscreen — here are 7 recommendations at every budget
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Ask your mom, your grandma, your dermatologist, the salesperson at Sephora, or Jennifer Aniston to indulge the most important step in their beauty routines and you'll probably get a universal answer: Wear sunscreen.
Every time we step outside, our skin is exposed to harmful UVA and UVB rays. Even 10 minutes of sun exposure per day can add up to significant sun damage over time.
Using sunscreen is a simple and necessary step to keep skin looking healthy, and, more importantly, for preventing health risks skin cancer.
During the summer, when the sun's exposure is at its height, it's more important than ever to get serious about protecting your skin.
Recently, there has been a lot of debate surrounding the effects of chemical sunscreens — more specifically, the ingredients oxybenzone and avobenzone — on our overall health.
The question of whether or not these ingredients affect our bodies long-term has yet to be answered, but what we know is that they've been found to linger in our blood system after use.
If you'd feel more comfortable forgoing any ingredients in question, mineral sunscreens are a great alternative.
On a mission to find a daily mineral sunscreen that blends easily into skin, I reached out to an expert. Dr. Dendy Engelman, board-certified dermatologic surgeon and celebrity dermatologist, stepped in to give us the low-down on mineral sunscreens and share some of her favorite products.
Mineral sunscreens (also called physical blockers) contain active mineral ingredients, such as titanium dioxide or zinc oxide. These ingredients work by sitting on top of the skin to deflect and scatter damaging UV rays, whereas chemical sunscreens penetrate deeper and convert UV rays into heat that then gets released from the skin.
Mineral sunscreens are a great choice for people with sensitive, acne-prone, and rosacea-affected skin. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends an SPF of 30 or higher, and Dr. Engelman cautions that the product needs to be applied generously and in all areas exposed to the sun, or else UV light can still get between the molecules.
If you're looking to avoid chemical sunscreens and use a mineral option instead, make sure to read your labels. Here are the ingredients you should look for, and avoid, when searching for a mineral sunscreen.
Look for these: titanium dioxide, zinc dioxide
Avoid these: oxybenzone, octinoxate, octisalate, avobenzone
After getting recommendations from Dr. Engelman and my coworkers (who happen to be expert product reviewers and sunscreen snobs), and putting in the research on reviews and ingredients, I've put together a list of seven mineral sunscreens for different budgets that are lightweight enough for daily use but will still protect your skin — all without leaving the dreaded white cast.
This mineral sunscreen uses a few unexpected ingredients to bolster protection from UVA and UVB rays.
Alongside titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, the formula includes marigold and black chokeberry extracts.
These natural antioxidants not only guard skin against environmental pollutants, but also protect against the blue light emitted from our smartphones, computers, and tablets.
This formula is lightweight, not greasy, and doesn't leave any residue on your face. It's my personal choice for my morning routine. I'm always sure to rub some of this onto my face, whether I'm wearing a foundation with added SPF or not. It goes on smooth, blends in nicely, and doesn't really smell anything.
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The Problem Sunscreen Poses for Dark Skin
In order for their products to be certified as broad-spectrum in the United States, sunscreen companies have to prove to the Food and Drug Administration that their sunscreen can block both UVA and UVB light.
As a result, many use physical ingredients, which are less ly to cause an allergic reaction: They’re “considered relatively inert, meaning we believe that they don’t really interact with your skin that much,” says Ginette Okoye, the chair of dermatology at Howard University Hospital.
The problem is, physical ingredients are the ones that leave a white cast.
Because the FDA regulates sunscreen as a drug instead of as a cosmetic, U.S. companies are especially limited in their choices of protective ingredients, whether chemical or physical. The FDA has been criticized for being slow to approve new ingredients, especially compared to Asian and European countries, which tend to have more ingredients available.
Because of the long approval process, U.S. sunscreen companies can be laser focused on just getting effective treatments out. Okoye points out that these companies don’t necessarily consider the appearance angle. “The purpose of sunscreen is for skin-cancer prevention.
They measure success not by how it looks, but how it prevents skin cancer or sunburn,” she says.
But companies are starting to think more about addressing how their products feel and appear on skin of color.
At first, “the larger companies never thought that people of color would spend their dollar on sunscreen, because people of color have a mentality of ‘Black don’t crack,’” says Shontay Lundy, the founder of Black Girl Sunscreen, a company that designs sunscreen specifically for black women.
Now both older, larger companies, such as CeraVe, Banana Boat, and Supergoop!, and new black-owned skin-care companies—such as Black Girl Sunscreen and Bolden USA, a skin-care company for women of color—have started tinkering more with traditional formulas, with different complexions in mind.
Katie Martin / Emily Jan / The Atlantic
Holly Thaggard, Supergoop!’s founder, points out that zinc oxide, one of the most popular ingredients used in physical sunscreens, for instance, comes in hundreds of different varieties.
“If it’s our goal to bring something to market that is more skin compatible with regard to color, we have some options,” she says.
On top of using different iterations of zinc oxide, Supergoop! has also added a tint to its physical sunscreens to make them blend in better with a wider range of skin colors.
CeraVe has reduced the physical ingredient zinc oxide to nanoparticles in some of its products, which lessens the white cast left on skin. But doing so can lessen the zinc’s effectiveness, and Reddit threads say the sunscreen can still leave a cast. (CeraVe didn’t respond to a request for comment through its owner, L’Oréal.
) Banana Boat, meanwhile, simply offers a variety of physical and chemical sunscreens instead of just one particular type.
“We encourage consumers to select sunscreen their skin type, activity level, and exposure need,” says Samuel Vona, the director of research and development at Edgewell Personal Care, the company that owns Banana Boat.
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Why a Mineral Sunscreen Will Never Be Invisible
Can an invisible mineral sunscreen exist? By nature, mineral SPF is made up of tiny white powders…and you just can’t make them invisible. In today’s chemistry lesson, we’ll tell you more.
Invisible mineral sunscreen simply doesn’t exist
If you’re passionate about 100% mineral SPF, then you probably know that many formulas leave behind a not-so-fun white cast, and here’s why… By definition, mineral actives — zinc oxide and titanium dioxide — are white powders, making them impossible to go on clear. That being said, there are ways to make them better, and we’re all about that, so read on to find out more….
How to reduce the white tint from mineral sunscreens…
Now that you know that there’s no such thing as a completely invisible mineral SPF, we’ll give you a bit more insight into how you can work with a lab to lessen their chalky white cast.
One way to do it is by tinting them, which is what we’ve done with Matte Screen, CC Cream, Zincscreen and now Bright-Eyed.
There are two types of tints: ones in Matte Screen, Zincscreen and Bright-Eyed which really aren’t tints that stay on the skin but just allow the whiteness to blend in better, especially on medium to darker skin tones, and the other is a true “coverage” tint, in the CC Cream where the tint not just covers the white cast, but leaves color on the complexion — a two for one!
Another way to reduce cast is to make the particles smaller and smaller so when they are spread on the skin they are harder to see. When they are below 100 nanometers, they are called nano-particles, which have been deemed safe and effective by the FDA. We use them sometimes when it helps with the formulation, but we avoid them in anything that will be sprayed or used around reefs.
One thing to keep in mind is that no matter how small they become, they are still little white particles so — especially if you have a darker skin tone — you may still see some level of cast. We’ll be always pushing to see if we can do better, but we feel it’s always good to know what you are getting into at the best detail possible.
Some other good things to keep in mind…
First, if you’re using a mineral product that is labeled “invisible zinc,” then chances are strong it’s actually a hybrid formula that uses both chemical and mineral actives, or it’s just mis-marketed altogether and the word “invisible” is just code for something along the lines of “lightweight.”
And another friendly PSA: If your mineral product is coming out clear, then that means that the actives have separated, so you should shake it well and try again.
Or quite frankly, probably throw the entire thing away since the product is ly not formulated properly or you got a bad batch.
You simply won’t be getting any sun protection with a 100% mineral sunscreen that appears to be clear — you’ll only be getting the rest of the formula since those little white guys have sunk to the bottom!
If you’re using a mineral product that is labeled “invisible zinc,” then chances are strong it’s actually a hybrid formula that uses both chemical and mineral actives,or it’s just mis-marketed altogether and the word “invisible” is just code for something along the lines of “lightweight.”
“OK, so which product is right for me?”
Great question!If you’re looking for a totally invisible formula for your skin tone, then a non-mineral SPF Unseen or Glow Stick might be best for you. Formulas these that don’t use zinc oxide or titanium dioxide can be truly invisible for that very reason.
Chemical sunscreens allow for this type of major innovation when it comes to texture, and all of ours also contain clean ingredients to boot.
In fact, we’ve never formulated with oxybenzone, parabens, synthetic fragrances or 100+ other ingredients that can be irritating or harmful to skin.
And if 100% mineral SPF is the highest priority for you in your everyday skincare routine, then stick with Zincscreen or Matte Screenor Play Mineral Lotion if you are looking for higher SPF and water resistance.
+Questions or comments about mineral SPF? Leave them below!
5 of the Worst Sunscreen Problems and How to Fix Them
Wearing sunscreen is one of the most important things you can do to prevent premature aging.
I know you know this. And most of you probably slathered on your broad-spectrum, UVA- and UVB-protective sun protection today.
But I ALSO know that some people still won't wear sunscreen, for various reasons. If you're one of them, maybe you think you don't need it. Or maybe you hate how it feels on your skin.
No judgement here—but I've got fixes for the most common sunscreen problems. Read on!
Sunscreen is Only Necessary If You Burn
Juice Beauty SPF 30 Oil-Free Moisturizer
If you think it's okay to skip sunscreen since you have the type of skin that never burns, think again.
Even if you always tan, you're still being exposed to UVA rays, which are responsible for aging. Think: not just wrinkles but dehydration, sagging, pigmentation and loss of elasticity.
The solution, of course, is to find a sunscreen you and will wear, every single day. Juice Beauty SPF 30 Oil-Free Moisturizer is one of my favourites.
Sunscreen Feels Too Heavy/Greasy
CyberDerm Every Morning Sun Whip SPF 25
Sunscreens have a bad reputation for feeling heavy and creating a midday oil slick on your face—not to mention triggering breakouts.
But lightweight formulas specifically made for oily and acne-prone skin are now available— CyberDerm Every Morning Sun Whip SPF 25.
Another tip: Skip the moisturizer under your sunscreen. If you find SPF makes you too shiny, you probably don't need that extra layer of moisture.
Sunscreen Gives Your Skin a White Cast
Drunk Elephant Umbra Tinte Physical Daily Defense Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 30
One of the biggest issues with natural sunscreens (made from zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide) is that they can often look light and chalky on darker skin tones.
What you want to look for is a tinted formula, with pigments that cut the white so it blends better with your skin tone. I Drunk Elephant Umbra Tinte Physical Daily Defense Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 30, which has a hint of tint and will suit all skin tones.
Sunscreen Chemicals Are Harmful
Derma E Natural Mineral Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 30 Oil-Free Face
If you're concerned about the side effects of chemical sunscreen ingredients oxybenzone, make sure to choose products that contain zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. These mineral filters are considered safe and are not associated with hormone disruption, nor are they ly to irritate to sensitive skin.
Although they used to be hard to find, there are now plenty of great mineral sunscreens to choose from on the market. Derma E Natural Mineral Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 30 Oil-Free Face is one of my favourite natural options.
Sunscreen is Too Hard to Re-Apply
Colorescience Sunforgettable Loose Mineral Sunscreen SPF 50
We're meant to re-apply sunscreen every two hours to stay protected. But when you work in an office, commute by car, and don't spend more than 15 minutes outdoors, then it seems overkill to slather on SPF you're heading to the beach.
Plus, it's just not realistic if you wear makeup. Who wants to ruin their carefully-applied foundation and concealer with a new layer of sunscreen lotion, just to be able to go outside to buy a sandwich?
Thankfully, there is a solution. Mineral sunscreen powders are available, which you can quickly dust over your face every time you need an SPF top-up. One of the best is Colorescience Sunforgettable Loose Mineral Sunscreen SPF 50.
They won't give you the same complete protection as a lotion or cream, of course, but they're perfect for those times when you need SPF but can't mess up your makeup. Just don't rely on them if you plan to bake on the beach or be outdoors for extended periods of time!
Do you hate wearing sunscreen?
Have you tried any of these?
The 20 Best Sunscreens for People of Color in 2020 – Sun Protection for Dark Skin
While skin cancer is less common among Black and Latinx populations in the U.S, melanin is not a magical, sun-resistant shield that repels damaging UV rays.
Skin cancer is usually identified at an advanced stage for people of color, which makes it that much more deadly. And on a short-term timeline, sun damage can contribute to the development of hyperpigmentation, dark spots, and acne.
Needless to say, you should be wearing sunscreen every single day regardless of your skin tone.
But not all sunscreens are created equal. For people of color, white cast from sunscreen residue in a major problem. Below, we've gathered the 20 best sunscreens for women of color that have no white cast. From trendy millennial brands to women-of-color-owned businesses, you'll have no choice but want to apply.
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1 Invisiblur Perfecting Shield Broad Spectrum SPF 30 PA+++
This gel primer is loved by r Jackie Aina for three reasons: it's colorless, blurs the appearance of pores, and doesn’t leave behind a greasy residue.
2 SPF50 Reef-Friendly Body Sunscreen
Everyday for Everybody amazon.com
If you're particularly sensitive, this unscented body sunscreen is the way to go. It quells inflammation and deeply moisturizes thanks to radical-fighting matcha, soothing cucumber, and hydrating jojoba oil.
3 Sheer Flesh
Flesh Beauty fleshbeauty.com
Feeling a bit dry? This milky serum drenches skin in hydration thanks to plumping pomegranate extract, water-attracting glycerin, and moisturizing honey extract.
4 All Natural Surf Mud
EiR NYC amazon.com
Make every day a little sweeter with this cocoa-infused sun balm, which is inspired by the Mayan chocolate mask. Once massaged into skin, it leaves behind a water-resistant, makeup-gripping canvas without a ghostly white cast (despite being a mineral formulation).
5 COSRX Shield Fit Snail Essence Sun Cream SPF 50+
Snail secretion is one of K-beauty’s most valued ingredients for its ability to fade acne scars, hydrate, and heal. It’s the star ingredient of this lightweight fluid, which melts into skin within seconds and leaves behind a dewy glow.
6 Glow Stick SPF 50
In need of convenient on-the-go application? This glow-enhancing, dry oil sunscreen stick has you covered.
7 Ultimate Sun Protector Lotion SPF 50+ Sunscreen
Meet your perfect beach companion. This water-resistant sunscreen is formulated with a technology that works harder when you’re exposed to heat, sweat, or water.
8 Squalane + Zinc Sheer Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30
Don’t let this stark white, zinc oxide sunscreen throw you off: the generous use of squalane oil helps it to seamlessly blend into skin. The only thing left behind is a dewy finish.
9 The Beet Shield
Krave Beauty kravebeauty.com
Seeking to correct dark spots? This silky fluid is chock-full of brightening vitamin C and beetroot extract to help promote an even skin tone.
10 Full Spectrum 360°Sun Silk Drops Organic Sunscreen SPF 30
Most chemical sunscreens do not offer blue light protection. This ultralight serum is an exception. It is formulated with a proprietary complex that is clinically proven to reduce the effects of blue light exposure.
11 Brightening Moisturizer SPF 30
After feeling left frustrated by the white cast left on their skin from traditional formulas, founders Chinelo Chidozie and Ndidi Obidoa created Bolden. The moisturizer provides SPF 30 sun protection, vitamin C to brighten and correct discoloration, and a hydrating formula to moisturize and nourish the skin.
12 Unseen Protection SPF 40
Supergoop's Unseen Sunscreen goes on a body oil so you don't have to worry about any white residue. The product is so light you won't even remember you're wearing sunscreen.
13 Oil Free Moisturizer SPF 30
Two for the price of one: Mario Badescu’s Daily Moisturizer delivers hydration that works (I personally use this in the morning) and SPF 30 protection. It's perfect for those in a time crunch (or those who are perpetually late.)
14 Invisible Shield SPF 35
This gel- colorless formula is great for all skin tones and types. Oily gals won't have to worry about clogged pores while those with darker skin won't have to worry about residue thanks to a smooth and invisible make up.
15 SPF 30
Black Girl Sunscreen
This all-natural formula was created (yet again!) frustration with the lack of options for women of color created by a woman of color. The formula is free from minerals and zinc oxide which commonly cause the white residue on darker skin tones.
16 Protect and Hydrate SPF 30
This wallet-friendly sunscreen is one of our favorite drugstore finds. It provides hydration, protection, and goes on a hydrating lotion.
17 Broad Spectrum SPF 46
If your skin is prone to hyperpigmentation and discoloration, this is the sunscreen for you. It contains hyaluronic acid and lactic acid, both of which promote cell turnover and even out your complexion. The formula also leaves no residue while it protects from harmful UV rays.
18 SPF 30
Brought to you by singer Frank Ocean's mom, Unsun is a mineral-tinted sunscreen that protects and nourishes the skin with shea butter, coconut oil, and vitamin E.
19 UncompliKated SPF 50
A makeup setting spray complete with SPF 50? Yes, Kate Somerville created this almost-too-good-to-be-true product. Round out your beauty routine with a spritz of this and see just how easy it is to stay protected.
20 Chem-Free Active Defense SPF30
NYDG Skincare theline.com
The perfect sunscreen for folks with sensitive dark skin. David Colbert, an NYC-based dermatologist, created this chemical-free face and body lotion for the most sensitive of skins. You don't have to worry about breakouts, rashes, or any white residue.
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None Of These Mineral Sunscreens Will Make You Look A Ghost
At the start of this summer I decided to end a month-long sunscreen hiatus. Oh don’t look at me that way, I had my reasons. Months of testing every beauty product that passed through the ITG beauty closet had finally taken its toll.
My skin had turned into a bratty toddler: sensitive, prone to irrational flare-ups, and in desperate need of halp from mum! So I went on a skincare elimination diet to course correct. I stopped using acids, antioxidant-rich serums, fancy face oils, and yes, sunscreens.
And finally, when the dermatitis dissipated, I gradually reintroduced products into my routine that wouldn’t make my skin freak out.
I knew I needed a good sunscreen—I work at a beauty company for goodness sake! But to steer clear of any irritation this time around, I followed the advice of my dermatologist, and tried out mineral sunscreens instead.
chemical sunscreens, the blendable, often translucent favorite of the sunscreen game, mineral (sometimes called “physical”) sunscreens protect skin from UVA and UVB rays.
The difference is that mineral sunscreens create a physical shield, deflecting UV light, while chemical sunscreens absorb UV light, so your skin doesn’t have to. Where minerals sunscreens work instantly, chemical sunscreens take about 20 minutes to kick in.
And, generally speaking, mineral sunscreens are more amenable to sensitive skin because of their leading ingredients, zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.
But it’s the zinc that’s the real star (and for reference, zinc oxide is just what we call zinc in topical form). Anti-inflammatory and calming, it takes on eczema, rosacea, psoriasis, melasma, acne… a sensitive person’s fever dream (my former roommate used to wear zinc sunblock at night, so she could reap those soothing benefits 24/7).
Anyway, those are the bonus points. Minus point: mineral sunscreens usually leave a white cast, making it impossible for a lot of people to use them without looking a friendly ghost.
An obstacle, sure, but in this robust moment in the sunscreen industry, I knew there would be at least a few mineral sunscreens that could give me that protection and calming that I needed.
Most Satisfying To Mineral SPF Newbies: Coola Matte Mineral Sunscreen
Even though my combination skin and place of work has reinforced my identity as a dewy queen, using this product made me understand the allure of mattifying products in general. This sunscreen left my skin feeling a smooth, spackled canvas, but also…cooled? I’ve been telling everyone that this is mineral sunscreen to switch to if you’re just getting started.
Most Fun to Share: Dr. Dennis Gross’ Sheer Mineral Sun Spray
My months-long mineral sunscreen trials coincided with Camp Glossier, which is arguably the best time to test a new SPF. At any given time, there are a bunch of people to “review” the finish of your sunscreen—people who also double as mineral sunscreen guinea pigs if you decide to share.
While watching my colleagues get launched off The Blob, I sprayed this guy all over my face, neck, and legs, then passed it over to Emily Ferber and Ashley Weatherford to try. “This is fancy!” Emily said. “I don’t know anyone who is as obsessed with sunscreen as you are Utibe.” Ashley said.
“But this is nice!” Mission accomplished.
Most Portable: Supergoop Mineral Stick
An itty bitty sunscreen stick is hard to resist. This one smells great, goes on balmy, and can go anywhere with me since it literally fits in the palm of my hand.
Most Reliable: Cyberderm Simply Zinc
I love a brand that simply gives the people what they want. A high concentration of zinc (25-percent—woot) and blends out without a problem. all the tinted sunscreens in the mix, this tint actually helped make the application more seamless and natural. Did I mention Michelle Obama s to use sunscreens from this brand? Yeah, there’s also that.
Most-est Proximity to Frank Ocean: Unsun Sunscreen
In this house, we love Christopher Breaux, and his mother Katonya.
Buy this sunscreen because you—and any Frank Ocean lover who knows what’s good for them—realize that this sunscreen is most ly a key component of Frank Ocean’s Top Shelf (!) Keep it because it’s a mineral sunscreen available in a range of flexible tints for all skin shades, is supremely moisturizing, and cancels out any visible inflammation you may have.
Most Favored by the Editors: Josh Rosebrook Day Cream
After Ali and Ashley Weatherford raved about this on several separate occasions, I too must now vouch for this mineral sunscreen in a pump. Its lightweight cream format means it melts into (and not sits on top of) skin, with zero residue in sight, and its inclusion of fatty acids and antioxidants only aid in helping reduce redness over time.
Photographed by Tom Newton