Although I’m a beauty writer, I started consistently wearing SPF a little late in the game. I’d use a product and either experience a breakout, sport a visible white cast, or look a little too greasy and take a break until I found something else. Now, I never skip a day; plus, with the number of brands to choose from currently, like Blue Lizard Sunscreen, Supergoop! EltaMD, and more, I feel more confident when searching. However, I still have my own personal checklist of quality sunscreens.
To love and wear an SPF every day, I have a few non-negotiables: I need a shine-free finish, a comfortable feel, a product that’s good for sensitive skin, zero breakouts, and most importantly, no white tint. Personally, I never thought that was a tall order, but it’s good to see more brands innovating and challenging what we typically know sunscreen to be.
Right now, the market is buzzing with sunscreens from a number of brands, but which ones meet my skin care requirements, and which ones would be great for Black and brown skin? I decided to try 10 of the most popular sunscreens — both higher-end and budget friendly — that are available to shop right now and put them to the ultimate test. Ahead, I break down each sunscreen, share my experience, and let you know if they’re brown skin friendly. Keep scrolling for more.
COOLA Classic Face Organic Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30
A chemical sunscreen that’s also formulated with 70% organic ingredients, COOLA’s Classic Face Organic Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50 is cruelty-free, gluten-free, vegan, reef safe, and provides broad spectrum protection. When I applied the product, it blended in easily, didn’t leave a white cast, and it also felt lightweight. I think this SPF is great, but it’s too rich for me — the sunscreen left a slight film on my skin and I felt like I looked a bit too shiny. This sunscreen is priced at $32 for 1.7 oz, which, for the right person, is a reasonable price.
EltaMD UV Daily Broad Spectrum SPF 40
Having used EltaMD sunscreens before, I was hoping that the UV Daily Broad Spectrum SPF 40 would be another must-have mineral SPF from the brand, but this one needs a little tweaking. The formula feels amazing on the skin and it dries with a matte finish, but it’s not entirely transparent — though my skin had a super subtle white cast, it was a white cast nonetheless. At $32.50 for 1.7 oz, I think it’s priced well, but EltaMD has other products that flatter my complexion and deeper skin tones much better.
Blue Lizard Sensitive Mineral Sunscreen SPF 50
Made for use on the face and body, The Blue Lizard Sensitive Mineral Sunscreen SPF 50 is a broad spectrum product, priced at $20 for 5 oz. This sunscreen was challenging to use, and I had a white tint that was so visible other people pointed it out. The fact that this sunscreen is for the face and body is likely why the cast was so noticeable, but even still, it just didn’t work for me. Blue Lizard has other products that would suit different skin tones like its Sheer SPF line; I’d check those out instead of this product in the future.
Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen SPF 40
Supergoop! have been reigning supreme for some time now among beauty editors and writers, and once you try the brand’s Unseen Sunscreen SPF 40, you’ll understand why. This chemical sunscreen has a silky gel texture that is truly transparent and it wears beautifully alone and underneath makeup (as you can see in my photo). It helped keep my oily t-zone matte all day and even minimized the look of my pores around my nose. This SPF met every single one of my requirements, and for 1.7 oz priced at around $36, I would happily repurchase it.
Sun Bum Original SPF 50 Sunscreen Face Lotion
Drugstore sunscreens can be hit or miss; you may not get everything you’re looking for from one product, but its affordability can tip the scale. Thankfully, the Sun Bum Original SPF 50 Sunscreen Face Lotion is one of the best budget-friendly sunscreens I've used. Vegan and cruelty-free, this chemical SPF has a thin texture, it can be rubbed in with very little effort, and it doesn’t leave a tint on the skin. For 3 fl.oz and $13, this gem of a sunscreen has quickly become one of my favorites.
Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 55
Typically at the forefront of accessible and effective skin care, the Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 55 is a chemical sunscreen that is formulated to provide broad spectrum protection, absorbing into the skin quickly for an invisible, weightless feel. The brand nailed the weightless part, but Ultra Sheer is not sheer enough for my skin; the white cast I had was incredibly noticeable. At $12 for a 3 oz, people with lighter complexions would love this SPF, but it’s not a product for richer skin tones.
Pipette Mineral Sunscreen SPF 50
The Pipette Mineral Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 50 is a clean, reef safe, hydrating product designed to be lightweight and fast-absorbing. This product has a really nice texture to it, but working it into the skin takes time. Once absorbed, I noticed that my skin had a slight tint to it. I also looked too shiny for my taste and the SPF felt a little thick on my face. For a $15 4 oz, I think this product has a lot of value, but I would use it on vacation instead of wearing it on a daily basis.
Shiseido Ultimate Sun Protector Lotion SPF 50+ Sunscreen
I’m comfortable with spending more for an SPF because I view it as an investment in myself. For a $49 5 oz, the Shiseido Ultimate Sun Protector Lotion SPF 50+ Sunscreen is more expensive than some of the other sunscreens here, but with this product, you get what you pay for. The Ultimate Sun Protector Lotion is a chemical sunscreen with a gorgeous — and I do mean gorgeous — serum-like texture that leaves skin with a comfortable feel, a natural finish, and no noticeable tint as you can see. My only critique is that the sunscreen’s scent is strong, which may not work for someone that’s sensitive to fragrance.
La Roche Posay Anthelios Ultra Light Facial Sunscreen SPF 60
I was expecting great things from La Roche Posay’s Anthelios Ultra Light Facial Sunscreen SPF 60, and for the most part, the brand delivered. This chemical sunscreen has a liquid texture that blends into the skin easily and is translucent. Overall, this sun protectant is good, but my skin had a little too much shine for me to wear it comfortably every day; instead, it’s a product I would use if my other favorites were out of stock. At $31 for 1.7 oz, I still think this sunscreen is worth the price.
ISDIN Eryfotona Actinica Daily Mineral SPF 50+ Sunscreen
The ISDIN Eryfotona Actinica Daily Mineral SPF 50+ Sunscreen is a broad spectrum liquid mineral sun protectant that is lightweight and helps repair visible signs of sun damage. While this product is lightweight, non-greasy, and non-irritating for sure, it’s not brown skin friendly. My skin had a lavender tint that was difficult to remedy. For $60 and 3.4 oz, someone with fair skin may see the value in this SPF.
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