Those with darker skin tones have every right to be skeptical of sunscreens. It's important to note, however, that Black patients are over three times more likely than non-Hispanic White patients to receive a late-stage melanoma diagnosis. Black women: We must protect our skin. No matter what the women in your family with the same skin tone as you have told you or not told you, the rich melanin in our skin does not make us immune to sun damage from harmful UV rays. Our melanin actually makes our skin more prone to hyperpigmentation, dark spots, and skin conditions like melasma when exposed to too much sun.
Craig Kraffert, MD, board-certified dermatologist and president of Amarte Skin Care, says that there are two classes of approved sunscreen ingredients in the United States: chemical and mineral. "While chemical ingredients can be used alone to create broad-spectrum high-SPF products, the problem is that they tend to be inelegant and sometimes irritating," says Kraffert. "Rather than that nice sheer, absorptive experience we all seek, these products tend to be thicker and sticky with poor absorptive properties." On the other hand, physical ingredient-based sunscreens can provide high performance while remaining relatively sheer. The problem? These products tend to leave an ashy or grayish-white cast on the skin, which is particularly noticeable on darker skin types, he explains.
Looking for sunscreens without a white cast? Check out the best sheer sunscreens that work on all skin tones, below.
Amarte Ultra Veil Facial Sunscreen
"Ultra Veil is a water-resistant, broad-spectrum, and SPF 50+," explains Kraffert. "It goes on like silk and absorbs quickly, leaving a moist, touchable, and aesthetically improved skin appearance. The interesting thing about Ultra Veil is that its sheerness can be enjoyed on all skin types, from the lightest to darkest, without being tarnished by an ashy or grayish-white reflection. Amarte achieved this unique feat by first carefully considering how much zinc oxide and titanium dioxide to deploy in the formulation. Even more importantly, Amarte has perfected processing methods for the titanium and zinc raw ingredients that greatly improve their optical and reflective properties. This has been accomplished through a combination of mineral grading, grinding, and sorting protocols."
G.M. Collin Dry Touch SPF 50+ Sun Protection Cream
"This is suitable for all skin tones due to the SPF protection and the sheer coverage it provides," explains G.M. Collin's national director of education and lead aesthetician, Karen Asquith. "It has both UVA and UVB protection to prevent sunburn from the UVB rays and the aging effects from UVA exposure. It is easy to apply, does not leave any white residue, and finishes with a light, dry feeling on the skin. It is water-resistant for up to 80 minutes, making it the ideal companion for fun in the sun without regret!"
HydroPeptide Solar Defense Non-Tinted
"In my practice, sunscreen compliance is a challenge, and in the past, companies stopped at the sunscreen part and ignored how the creams made the skin feel and look," shares Jamé Heskett, MD, author of The Well Path. "Breakouts are the number one reason clients stop using sunscreens. Also, the greasy or opaque look of most sunscreens is a common complaint. Sunscreen doesn't work if you don't wear it, but with HydroPeptide's Solar Defense, no matter what skin type they have, my clients rave at the weightlessness of the cream and the matte, sheer look it gives their skin. Its unique formula was developed to reduce oily skin and promote a clear complexion while benefiting all skin types.”
RéVive Skincare Firming Moisture Cream Broad Spectrum SPF 30 Sunscreen
"Our sunscreen is sheer since we only use chemical sunscreens and not physical," says Gregory Brown, MD, founder of RéVive Skincare. "Zinc or titanium, even when micronized, can feel chalky and can leave a white cast. Chemical sunscreens don't leave a white residue, so they are perfect for all skin tones."
Jane Iredale HandDrink Hand Cream
Looking for a no-white cast sunscreen for your hands? This mighty hand cream has a fast-absorbing texture that is completely colorless. It's made of SPF 15, zinc oxide, and titanium dioxide, which work together for effective protection that feels light and hydrating on your hands.
Clinique Sun Broad Spectrum SPF 50 Body Cream
This body sunscreen contains SolarSmart technology, which promises maximum protection from the sun and is meant to reduce visible signs of aging with active ingredients like antioxidants. It's also oil-free, so you won't have to worry about the formula leaving behind a greasy residue—or clogging your pores.
Palmers Eventone Suncare Moisturizing Sunscreen SPF 30
This budget buy is blended with hydrating ingredients like cocoa butter, shea butter, and coconut oil, along with SPF to add a protective layer to the skin. More importantly, it's infused with CocoaPlex technology meant to combat hyperpigmentation suitable for all skin tones, uneven complexions, and signs of aging.
La Roche-Posay Anthelios Clear Skin Oil Free Dry Touch Sunscreen Lotion SPF 60
Consumer Reports released its Annual Sunscreen Guide and this sunscreen passed with flying colors, winning first place with the perfect score for UVA and UVB protection. Its velvety texture is far from chalky, so your skin will drink this sheerness right up.
Unsun SPF 30 Mineral Tinted Sunscreen
Musical genius Frank Ocean's mom, Katonya Breaux, developed Unsun, which is a mineral sunscreen for dark skin tones. Its universally flattering coverage works on a wide range of complexions, with SPF 30 that won't leave any signs it's even there.
Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Sunscreen Lotion
This oil-free, waterproof formula feels light as a feather. Using SPF 55, it works just as hard without the heavy residue. Plus, reviewers boast about how the formula doesn't dry out the skin or enhance the look of dry patches.
Cover FX SPF 30 Booster Drops Broad Spectrum Sunscreen
This fluid serum sunscreen infused with SPF 30 provides a weightless layer of defense that offers protection against harmful sun damage and pollution. Whether you're mixing it in with a moisturizer or applying it over the top, make sure you're using enough drops to get the full benefits.
Glossier Invisible Shield Daily Sunscreen SPF 35
If the gorgeous Glossier models lathering this clear, water- and gel-based sunscreen on doesn't make you feel like you need it, maybe the fact that it works on all skin tones will. It has sun and skin benefits with microcapsules meant to rapidly absorb into your pores.
SkinCeuticals Light Moisture UV Defense Sunscreen
This dermatologist-trusted brand has a sunscreen that'll quickly blend into your skin without leaving behind any residue. Full of healthy ingredients that signify a good sunscreen, this lightweight lotion is completely translucent, making it an ideal option for all complexions.
Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 40
This is an invisible, non-toxic sunscreen that acts as a primer and moisturizer in one. It has a gripping consistency, so it's perfect to apply right before makeup to ensure you achieve that second-skin finish.
Shiseido Ultimate Sun Protection Lotion Wet Force SPF 50
This silky formula seeps right into the skin has a clear consistency that goes on sheer. With its SPF 50 and sun-protection technology, it can withstand the toughest heat. So if you have a long day outdoors ahead of you, keep this one within reach.
MD Solar Sciences Solar Stick SPF 40
SPF needs to be reapplied every two hours (or more if you'll be swimming or sweating), so it's essential to choose a product that makes the on-the-go application as simple as possible. Cue this stick from MD Solar Sciences—its oil-free formula offers mineral UV protection and its stick form makes application a breeze. (Bonus points for being safe for kiddos six months and up).
Josie Maran Get Even Sun Milk SPF 33
The only thing better than an SPF that delivers ample protection is one that does so without drying out your skin. That's precisely why we're partial to this argan oil-infused formula from Josie Maran. It's made with brightening kakadu plum (an antioxidant that's 1000x more powerful than vitamin C) and applies like a dream—sans white cast.
Vacation Chardonnay Oil SPF 30
If you're the type who always seeks the latest and greatest hyped-up products, you'll appreciate the fact that this sheer SPF oil has garnered a waitlist so long, it's difficult to keep the product in stock. If you can manage to get your hands on it, though, we're confident you'll fall in love with its hydrating, glow-inducing formula.
Sun Bum Daily Sunscreen Moisturizer - SPF 30
This formula uses a medley of antioxidant-rich banana, moisture-retaining wild rosella, and brightening niacinamide to keep skin hydrated and calm as it protects. Also a plus: it doesn't clog pores or leave your skin feeling greasy after application.
Osmosis Skincare SPF 30 Broad Spectrum Sunscreen
If having a reef-safe formula is important to you, this pick from Osmosis Skincare fits the bill. It features a non-nano, coated zinc oxide formula and imparts a hydrating veil of radiance on the skin without leaving behind a white cast.
Coola Sheer Matte SPF30 Mineral Face Lotion
Oily-skinned folks, rejoice! This non-greasy formula improves the appearance of fine lines all while delivering SPF 30 protection and keeping the skin matte yet nourished. Plus, the formula is made without fragrances, so it's less likely to irritate whether you're sensitive or not.
Babo Botanicals Sheer Mineral Sensitive Gentle Sunscreen Lotion
If your skin leans sensitive, finding an SPF formula that won't risk irritation is key. Enter this pick from Babo Botanicals—it's so gentle that the brand says it's safe for the entire family (kids included). It's hypoallergenic, fragrance-free, lightweight, and sheer. A match made in SPF heaven.