Protect Your Skin with these Top Sunscreens for Black Women

Even though it’s COVID, it’s still summer. People are slowly spending more time outside, soaking up the sun. So it’s the perfect time to discuss sunscreens for black women. 

the best sunscreens for black women

Do Black Women need sunscreen?

Yes. Yes, you absolutely do need to use sunscreen as a Black woman.

Contrary to popular belief, Black women aren’t immune to common skin cancers. 

Melanin is beautiful but it does crack if you don’t take care of your skin properly. While White women are more likely to catch skin cancer than Black women, we still must do our part.

As I’ve been doing my research, I’ve learned that sunscreen should be worn daily, not just in the summer or when going to the beach. There are so many myths around sunscreen for Black women that need to be debunked. 

What’s the ideal SPF in Sunscreen for Black Women?

One of my friends who is an aesthetician (Hey Jaz!) told me that anything over SPF 30 is unnecessary and it blew my mind.

I’ve been one of those chicks who always went for the higher SPFs 80+ for me!! But ever since she told me that last year I’ve changed my ways. When you know better you do better lol.

Apparently, at SPF 30, 97% of the UVB rays are blocked. While higher SPF seems like more protection, they don’t offer 100 % protection nor do they last longer.  

Side note: I find it interesting that Black people are at greater risk for vitamin D deficiency because of the presence of melanin in our skin. Melanin reduced our bodies’ production of vitamin D. Lack of sufficient sunlight and the use of sunscreen also affects vitamin D production. 

Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to many autoimmune conditions (like Myasthenia Gravis). So choosing a lower SPF to allow some of those rays to come through may not be a horrible idea- Just food for thought.

14 black girl friend sunscreens

14 Black Girl Friendly Sunscreens

If you’re lost on where to buy a sunscreen or in the market for a new sunscreen here is a list of sunscreens for Black women. What I mean is, other Black women have vouched for them, so they are worth giving a try. 

There are so many brands and formulas, you’ll find one that fits you. 

Keihl’s Activated Sun Protector $32

  • SPF 30
  • Good for face and body
  • No white cast

Bare Republic’s Tinted Mineral Sport Stick $10

  • SPF 50
  • Stick Formula
  • No white cast
  • Available at Target, Walmart and Amazon

Glossier Invisible Shield Daily Sunscreen $25

  • SPF 35
  • No cast

Coola Classic Sport White Tea $32

  • SPF 50
  • Lightweight, Moisturizing but not dewy
  • For face

Coola Tropical Coconut $28

  • SPF 30
  • Spray or lotion formula
  • Lightweight
  • For body

SuperGoop Mineral Collection $24-42 

  • SPF 40 – 50
  • Full body
  • Oil free quick absorbing
  • Lightweight formula

Black Girl Sunscreen $19

  • SPF 30
  • Great for face
  • Oxybenzone and paraben free

Kate Somerville Uncomplicated SPF 50 Soft Focus Makeup Setting Spray $38

  • SPF 50
  • Spray formula
  • No white cast

Shiseido Sun Protection Clear Stick $28

  • SPF 50
  • Over and under makeup

Dermalogica Protection Sport $36 

  • SPF 50

SunBum $4-18

  • SPF 30-70
  • Mineral and Orginal Collections
  • Spray, stick and lotion formulas

Bolden US SPF Brightening Moisturizer $28

  • SPF 30
  • Moisturizing
  • Vitamin C

Biossance Squalane + Zinc Sheer Mineral Sunscreen $30

  • SPF 30
  • Sheer
  • Safe for sensitive skin
  • No white cast

UnSun $13-29

  • Mineral-based
  • SPF 30
  • Face and body formulas

Types of Sunscreens

Did you know that there are two types of sunscreen? Chemical and Physical sunscreen both have their pros and cons. 

What does sunscreen do?

People apply sunscreen to protect themselves from potentially harmful and cancer-causing UVA and UVB rays. Physical and chemical sunscreens go about protection in different ways.

Chemical vs Physical Sunscreens

Physical sunscreens (also called Mineral sunscreens) sit on the surface of the skin. They deflect UV rays- think of a quarter bouncing back off a trampoline or like an impenetrable forcefield covering your skin. 

This is done through the use of mineral ingredients (most commonly titanium dioxide or zinc oxide). Since physical sunscreens sit on the skin, they tend to be thicker in consistency and create that white overcast that a lot of women hate (especially women of color).

Additionally, physical sunscreens may not be the best choice for oily or acne-prone skin because of its thick consistency. 

However, physical sunscreens are thought to be safer for sensitive skin and little ones as well as offer better protection because you can literally see where is it, where it’s not, and when it’s time to apply more. 

Chemical sunscreens absorb UV rays – think of a giant foam pit that absorbs impact. They penetrate your skin and absorb the rays the prevent damage.

Your skin is protected because the sunscreens dissolves the UV rays through a chemical reaction. However, your skin has to absorb the chemicals before it can offer protection (Catch 22?). 

Examples of active ingredients in chemical sunscreens are Oxybenzone, Avobenzone, Octinoxate, Homosalate, Octisalate and Octocrylene.  

One of the biggest pros to chemical sunscreens for black women is the lightweight clear formula that leaves no white residue or film on the skin. These sunscreens are typically nonsticky and great for daily use without the risk of being gray. 

However, some chemical UV ingredients have been known to cause allergic reactions and irritation to the skin. There have also been concerns about how much can be absorbed into the bloodstream before causing health issues. 

sunscreens for black woman graphic

Which Sunscreen is Cleaner?

From a “green” perspective, EWG and Think Dirty both agree that physical sunscreens are cleaner for you. They have rated the active ingredients in chemical sunscreens as highly toxic- specifically oxybenzone!.

Yet, chemical sunscreens have been around for years. Many of the ingredients were grandfathered into the cosmetic industry. 

But honestly, there is no “better” choice. 

Some brands have even created compound blends to offer the most broad-spectrum protection while keeping the toxins low. 

It’s really a matter of what’s more important to you in a sunscreen. Factors such as skin type and lifestyle should be considered when choosing a sunscreen.

I personally hate to look like a gross sister (all grayed out). But I also care about the ingredients in my products. Clearly I’ve got to pick a side (sooner rather than later).

What’s your go-to sunscreen brand? Do you prefer chemical or physical sunscreens?

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Morgan Greene is a Maryland chronic illness and holistic wellness lifestyle blogger. After years of struggling with her autoimmune disease diagnosis, Myasthenia Gravis, she decided to combine two of her favorite things…writing and informing others was created to have unfiltered discussions about having a chronic illness. It has since become a place to inspire and create a sense of community among women with autoimmune diseases. Morgan loves trying new things and sharing with other spoonies how to live an ill life on their terms.

When she’s not blogging she is probably reading a book, drinking a Coke Slurpee or listening to music.

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