I’ll be the first to admit it—I haven’t always been the best about applying sunscreen. I’d grown up going without it, only slathering on layers when I went to the pool or beach in the summer. I never got sunburned and neither had anyone I’d grown up with (save for this one kid Miles, but I just thought his melanin wasn’t working correctly), so I assumed my skin was working overtime to protect me from the sun’s rays—and I was kind of right. Melanin does offer some natural protection from the sun’s rays, but it’s not enough to stop sunburn or prevent hyperpigmentation.
But I was stubborn. I had generations of beautiful, brown skinned women backing me up after all. That changed after meeting with Heather Woolery-Lloyd, MD, a black dermatologist and the founder of Specific Beauty, a skincare line formulated to brighten and correct dark spots in melanin-rich skin. She emphasized the necessity of proper sun protection, and recommended it as the first line of defense against hyperpigmentation, one of the biggest skin concerns for women that look like me. Fearful of splotchy skin (glass skin is a forever mood) I decided to add sunscreen into my daily routine, but finding a good sunscreen more difficult than I expected. For starters, the options are endless. There’s chemical SPF, mineral SPF, and reef-safe SPF, too. Even as an editor with access to endless product, I didn’t know where to begin. I just knew what I didn’t want—a formula that would leave me protected but ashy and gray.
So I started polling my friends, fellow melanin-rich beauty editors who had adopted the gospel of daily SPF application. Almost everyone I asked recommended Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen ($34), a unicorn-like formula that acts as both a primer and sun protection. “It doesn’t leave a white-after cast, or any sort of tint for that matter,” says Akili King, the beauty editorial assistant at Vogue. “It leaves my skin feeling moisturized and looking dewy.” Blake Newby, a freelance beauty writer agrees: “I love what it’s done for my skin. My tone is smoother, more even, and visibly softer.”
Shop: Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen, $34
After testing it out myself, I totally understood the hype. The oil-free formula is in fact invisible, and stands up to its primer claims. It plays well with my tinted moisturizer, and extends the wear by at least a few hours. I also love the velvety feel and convenient squeeze-tube packaging. Admittedly, it’s a little pricier than my childhood Coppertone, but all I need is a pea-sized dot to cover my entire face. I recently took it with me on vacation to Mexico (the full-size is a TSA-friendly 1.7 ounces), and I returned tanned, but sunburn-free, despite hours spent by the pool and a bumpy ATV ride through the jungle.
Now, I’m hooked. It’s my worst kept beauty secret, and when anyone slides in the DMs to ask me how I get my moisturized, dewy glow I credit my consistent SPF usage and every celeb’s favorite beauty tip: water. Unseen Sunscreen has become part of my daily routine—even if I’m indoors—and it’s safe to say I’m never going back.
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