Growing up, my family spent countless weekends driving down the Jersey shore for and basking in the sun and sand of Long Beach. I have countless memories of splashing around in the water until my arms grew tired, and laying on my beach towel blissfully drinking sodas out of the family’s cooler. The only thing missing from those memories: the feeling of my mother slathering on thick globs of chalky sunscreen over my body. There are no photos of me as a chubby toddler with zinc splashed on my nose to be found. It simply never happened.
That’s why when I started experiencing hyperpigmentation in my late 20s and early 30s, I was horrified to learn that a big key to my future glow-up would involve lots of SPF. I just knew dark-skinned people were exempt from having to purchase such a product (and, admittedly, I almost took pride in it).
Alas, once I finally accepted and came to appreciate the value of it, I realized just how difficult it is to actually find one that suits dark skin tones. It’s as if the industry also collectively agreed that SPF isn’t for us, conspiring to only make products that leave that awful chalky glaze on anyone who has a natural tan.
After some deep dives though, I found a few of my new favorite options for SPF and I’ve never looked back. Here are a few of the best au natural SPFs for women of color.
This Hawaiian sunscreen line is all-mineral reef friendly, cruelty-free and kid-friendly for children six months and older (which means, you can slather it away on your young ones). It was designed for extreme weather and wear — meaning it passed an 80-minute water resistance test (if you’re bold enough to stay in the water that long!).
The brand touts its “3 C’s” as the leading benefits, because it cares for your skin, cares for the planet and cares for local communities by donating 20% of sales to like-minded organizations.
TropicSport Sunscreen SPF 30, $29.99, available at www.tropicsport.com
Viva La Peau
This oil-free protective moisturizer is perfect for darker skin tones because it’s not based on a physical filter, which means it blends into the skin without leaving any finish.
It’s also oil-free, which means that those with oily or problem skin can use it without worries, and it won’t interfere with makeup or cause breakouts.
The enriched formula includes 10 antioxidants to give skin extra support, such as green tea, sacred lotus extract, vitamin B and more. The best part: its glucosamine complex actually helps promote collagen.
Viva La Peau Oil-Free Protective Moisturizer SPF 30, $38, available at Amazon.com
Y’OUR Personalized Skin Care
This one is a game changer, as the skincare system is personalized to your ethnicity, skin type, age, living environment, stress, and other factors. The brand uses artificial intelligence to identify the best plant-derived regimen for you, so if you have dark skin, Y’OUR will send you the perfect SPF day cream for your skin tone — one that is literally made for your skin color.
While the system is slightly on the pricey end, the chic packaging and bespoke formulation make it all worth it.
Y’OUR Personalized Skin Care, $180 for a system, available at y-ourskin.com
Osmosis Skincare Protect Ultra Sheer SPF 30 Broad Spectrum Sunscreen
This vegan, gluten-free and oncology-friendly moisturizer is a non-nano, coated, zinc-oxide based sunscreen. It provides full coverage of SPF 30 for long-lasting protection while also delivering much-needed hydration after hours in the sun.
We love how sheer and lightweight it is — almost delicate feeling — despite its super strong shield against harmful UV rays.
Whether you are planning on going out in the sun or going to the office, you’ll be protected and looking fabulous with this sheer, lightly hydrating formula.
Osmosis Skincare Protect Ultra Sheer SPF 30 Broad Spectrum Sunscreen, $30, available on Amazon.
Farmacy Green Screen
We love FARMACY for its natural, yet delicious smelling and wonderfully textured skincare. This non-greasy, mineral-based sunscreen guards against overexposure to sunlight and pollution. The trademarked, Echinacea GreenEnvy is a variant of echinacea purpurea, an ingredient known for having the highest concentration of the phytochemical cichoric acid — a potent, natural antioxidant.
This sunscreen is truly made for anyone that wants sun protection and a product that promotes an even-tone looking complexion. It is our holy grail.
Farmacy Green Screen Daily Environmental Protector Broad Spectrum Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30 with Echinacea GreenEnvy™, $36, available at Sephora.
Josie Maran Argan Daily Moisturizer
Another line we absolutely love, Josie Maran products rely on the moisturizing benefits of argan oil to provide a non-greasy, radiant glow. Like many of the line’s products, this SPF absorbs into your skin quickly and lightly — like a beautifying thief in the night.
The SPF 47 product uses zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, but also infuses 100 percent argan oil in the purest form along with green tea to provide soothing nourishment to your skin. Their trademarked natural antioxidant-rich SunBoost ATB™ also has anti-aging benefits.
Basically, it’s going to leave you protected and sporting the beachy skin kissed aura of your dreams.
Josie Maran Argan Daily Moisturizer SPF 47, $34, available at Sephora.
Origins Plantscription™ SPF
For those of us who have passed the threshold out of our twenties and are now feeling the effects of 30-something skin, this SPF has you covered. Created to provide age-correcting moisture and UVA/UVB protection, the potent anti-aging cream is made with anogeissus, a dill seed extract, to improve skin’s elasticity.
Cassia alata, another prominent ingredient in the cream, promises to visibly reduce fine lines and wrinkles, so you can get back to your youthful, plumped looking self in the sun. Other notable (and delicious smelling) ingredients include a blend of pink rose, mandarin orange, and star anise essential oils.
Origins Plantscription™ SPF 25 Power Anti-Aging Oil-Free Cream, $60, available at Sephora.
Coola Rōsilliance™ Organic BB+ Cream in Dark
Sometimes, you want an SPF that can work double duty and provide some light coverage as well. Because let’s be honest, who wants to pile on makeup and then sit in the sun?
This BB cream works extra hard to please with SPF 30 and what the brand calls a “bouquet” of rose stem cells that provide an advanced bio-complex to smooth, moisturize, and replenish skin’s natural hydration. Naturally, this results in reduced signs of aging and a maximized glow.
The cream comes in shades from light to medium to dark, making it easy to avoid any chalky mishaps.
Coola Rōsilliance™ Organic BB+ Cream SPF 30, $52, available at Sephora.
Block Island Organics Natural Face Moisturizer SPF 30
This SPF face moisturizer is formulated with clear zinc that provides completely transparent coverage we’ve all dreamt about. Not to mention, it’s a two-in-one with moisturizing and antioxidant elements from vitamin E.
And don’t just take it from us — the Environmental Working Group (EWG) named it a “Best Moisturizer with SPF” for the third year in a row last year.
Block Island Organics Natural Face Moisturizer SPF 30, $27.99, available at www.blockislandorganics.com