During my childhood (and part of my adult years), I was the victim of bad sunscreen—think thick, chalky, blue/white/ashy, and hella greasy. TBH, I cringe when I look back at photos of myself at the beach. But after receiving the worst sunburn of my life as a teen in Antigua, I knew that skipping SPF wasn’t in the cards anymore. Since then, not only have I been diligent about applying it, but also about testing as many options as possible to find the one that blends in best with my rich melanin.
“Dermatologists typically recommend sunscreens that are composed of physical blockers such as zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, as they provide excellent protection from the sun and are less likely to cause any irritant skin reactions,” explains Carlos A. Charles, MD, of Derma di Colore.
The thing is, this doesn’t always work so well for people of color. Physical blockers are white, after all. “These thick sunscreens can often leave a white chalky residue that’s visible on darker skin,” adds Dr. Charles.
So what can you do? He has some sound advice: “I recommend finding a sunscreen with a combination of one of the physical blockers mentioned above along with a component of the chemical blockers to aid in minimizing the thickness of the sunscreen,” he says. It’s about finding that perfect balance—which, for me, has involved lots of product testing.
It’s been a long road, but the industry is starting to catch up and recognize the need for formulas suitable for all skin types and shades. Read on to discover the myriad sunscreens I’ve tried and loved, along with some dermatologist picks—no white streaks in sight.
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