By now, you probably know that sunscreen plays a critical part in your skincare routine. From increased fine lines to hyperpigmentation, we’ve banged on about the negative effects of sun exposure since the beginning of time. While you don’t have to reach for that bottle of SPF 100 (SPF 30 or 50 is sufficient), you should still be wearing a broad-spectrum sunscreen every day, even if you have a darker skin tone.
The trouble is, so many options on the market promise not to leave a white cast on our skin, but when we slather it on for the first time, we practically turn into Casper. That overexposed, ashy hue can be unflattering, and it can change the way our makeup looks on top of it.
To help you hunt down the best sunscreens for darker skin tones, we pooled recommendations from Reddit, YouTube, and our friends to come up with a trusted list of invisible SPFs. Keep reading to meet the sunscreens that were made with melanin in mind.
- Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel Lotion SPF 50 (Hydrating option!)
- Epicuren X-Treme Cream Propolis Sunscreen SPF 45
- Cosrx Aloe Soothing Sun Cream SPF 50 PA+++ (Soothing on irritated skin!)
- Black Girl Sunscreen SPF 30
- Glossier Invisible Shield Daily Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF35
- Sigi Skin Morning Glow Physical Sunscreen SPF 50 PA++++
- EltaMD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46
- Paula’s Choice Clear Ultra-Light Daily Hydrating Fluid SPF 30+
- Dr.G Green Mild Up Sun Lotion SPF 50+ PA++++
- Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 40 PA+++ (Sweat-proof!)
- Dear, Klairs Soft Airy UV Essence SPF 50 PA++++
- MISSHA All-Around Safe Block Essence Sun SPF45 PA+++ (Most affordable!)
- Canmake Mermaid Skin Gel UV SPF 50+ PA++++
- Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence SPF50+/PA++++
- Anessa Perfect UV Mild Milk SPF50+ PA++++
- Neogen Day-Light Protection Sun Screen SPF 50 PA+++
- Ultrasun Face Tinted Anti-Pigmentation SPF50+
Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel Lotion SPF 50 (Hydrating option!)
If you have oily but dehydrated skin, try Neutrogena’s Hydro Boost Water Gel Lotion. It provides broad-spectrum UVA and UVB protection as well as a boost of hydration with its water-light formula.
The gel texture refreshes the skin and calms inflammation, and it doesn’t leave a white cast – perfect for layering underneath your makeup. Oil-free and non-comedogenic, this sunscreen is ideal for those with acne-prone skin as it won’t clog your pores.
Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel Lotion SPF 50 retails for S$24.90 at Guardian.
Epicuren X-Treme Cream Propolis Sunscreen SPF 45
Propolis is a nutrient-rich ingredient that’s been trending for a while now – and with good reason. It soothes sensitive skin with its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, which is why Epicuren has made it the star of the show in its X-Treme Cream Propolis Sunscreen.
A broad-spectrum formula for the face and body, this sunscreen ramps up the moisture with its nourishing blend of oils. Buriti oil, olive oil, and kukui nut oil offer much respite for dry, parched skin. Even Alicia Keys is a fan of this product. You bet we’re taking beauty notes from the queen of the “no makeup” makeup look.
Epicuren X-Treme Cream Propolis Sunscreen SPF 45 retails for S$60.49 at Amazon.
Cosrx Aloe Soothing Sun Cream SPF 50 PA+++ (Soothing on irritated skin!)
Cosrx’s Aloe Soothing Sun Cream feels so light and moisturising on the skin, you’d think it was a day moisturiser. Many reviewers have searched high and low for a sunscreen that bumps up moisture levels without leaving a white cast, and they’ve finally found that in this sun cream.
Infused with aloe leaf extract, the sunscreen soothes any irritation and calms redness. It’s got a refreshing scent too, but if your nose or skin is particularly sensitive to artificial fragrances, we’d suggest trying out other fragrance-free options on our list.
Cosrx Aloe Soothing Sun Cream SPF 50 PA+++ retails for S$11.90 at Shopee.
Black Girl Sunscreen SPF 30
Made by women of colour for people of colour, Black Girl Sunscreen goes on completely clear and gives the skin a gorgeous glow. It moisturises and nourishes with avocado oil, jojoba oil, sunflower oil, and cocoa butter, but it never feels greasy or heavy on the skin. You can definitely use this in place of a makeup primer.
And FYI, supermodel Jourdan Dunn swears by this. “It’s very moisturising and it doesn’t leave that grey, shiny tinman look. Anyone can use it, but I love the fact that it’s dedicated [to] black and brown girls,” she says. See the product in action in Jourdan’s Vogue Beauty Secrets video.
Black Girl Sunscreen SPF 30 retails for US$18.99 (S$26.49) at Black Girl Sunscreen.
Glossier Invisible Shield Daily Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF35
True to its name, Glossier’s Invisible Shield Daily Sunscreen goes on clear, making it one of the best sunscreens for darker skin tones. Its watery, gel-like formula feels like a serum and protects against sunburn with SPF 35. You won’t end up with a greasy residue or white cast when you rub it on your skin.
It contains little spheres that are packed with UVA and UVB filters that burst upon application. The sunscreen also has an antioxidant complex that’s loaded with vitamin E, vitamin P, broccoli, and aloe leaf extracts to hydrate and neutralise free radicals. You’ll look forward to the sweet, citrusy scent of the sunscreen each morning too.
Glossier Invisible Shield Daily Sunscreen retails for S$43 at Shopee.
Sigi Skin Morning Glow Physical Sunscreen SPF 50 PA++++
Fancy a superfood blend in your sunscreen? Check out Sigi Skin’s Morning Glow. It’s a lightweight, vegan formula that prevents premature ageing by shielding your skin from harmful UV rays and environmental aggressors. When you apply this on, its whipped texture will melt into your skin without leaving any white residue or stickiness.
Rich in vitamin E and fatty acids, avocado and acai extracts counteract the effects of harmful rays to keep your complexion youthful and supple. There’s also niacinamide in the formula to brighten and strengthen your skin.
Sigi Skin Morning Glow Physical Sunscreen retails for S$58 at Sigi Skin.
EltaMD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46
Sunscreens that contain zinc oxide almost always leave a white cast on the skin, but not this one by EltaMD. This broad-spectrum sunscreen has a hybrid of chemical and physical UV filters to guard your complexion from UV damage.
Niacinamide calms inflammation and fades dark spots, while a small amount of lactic acid gently exfoliates to keep your skin glowing. It’s an oil-free and fragrance-free formula that’s great for acne-prone skin.
EltaMD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46 retails for S$50.64 at Amazon.
Paula’s Choice Clear Ultra-Light Daily Hydrating Fluid SPF 30+
Paula’s Choice’s Clear line actually means that it’s for blemish-prone skin, but this sunscreen also goes on clear. This light fluid has a shine-free finish that’s perfect for those with oily skin and clogged pores.
Soothing plant-derived antioxidants and hydrators help to smooth and calm the skin while minimising flaking and dryness. It will reduce the appearance of large pores for a soft-focus look too.
Dr.G Green Mild Up Sun Lotion SPF 50+ PA++++
If you have sensitive skin, Dr.G’s Green Mild Up Sun Lotion will be your new complexion BFF. It’s a gentle, non-sticky lotion sunscreen that shields your skin from harmful UVA and UVB rays while keeping it soft and bouncy.
Propanediol soothes and softens, while glycerin hydrates and provides extra protection against pesky environmental irritants. The light formula also has a splash of macadamia oil to moisturise your skin. On top of that, ceramide NP will aid in boosting your skin barrier function to prevent dehydration.
Dr.G Green Mild Up Sun Lotion SPF 50+ PA++++ retails for US$35 (S$48.85) at Olive Young.
Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 40 PA+++ (Sweat-proof!)
Invisible, weightless, and a stand-in for primer, it’s easy to see why Supergoop’s Unseen Sunscreen is a worldwide favourite. The antioxidant-rich formula glides onto the skin and leaves a velvety finish behind. It controls shine throughout the day and provides protection from blue light too – a huge plus in our book.
One reviewer said, “Love how [it] does not leave that ghostly white cast on my face after application. It goes on smoothly and looks great even without makeup. It stays on even after I sweat too.”
Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 40 PA+++ retails for S$52 at Sephora.
Dear, Klairs Soft Airy UV Essence SPF 50 PA++++
A favourite within the K-beauty community, Klairs’ Soft Airy UV Essence is a lightweight, water-based sunscreen that melts on your skin as you massage it in. It protects your skin from UVA and UVB rays and it won’t give you that ghostly white cast too.
Glycerin hugs hydration to your skin while niacinamide brightens and reduces blemishes – ideal benefits for those with oily, acne-prone skin. Although there’s a hint of orange oil on the ingredients list, you won’t be able to detect it once it’s on your face. So if you’re put off by fragrances, don’t worry, you won’t be able to detect it here.
Dear, Klairs Soft Airy UV Essence SPF 50 PA++++ retails for S$30.90 at Althea.
MISSHA All-Around Safe Block Essence Sun SPF45 PA+++ (Most affordable!)
One of the most affordable sunscreens on our list, MISSHA’s All-Around Safe Block Essence Sun nourishes and hydrates with a blend of plant extracts. It has an SPF of 45 to block UV rays as well as an advanced formula that promises to last longer through sweat, water, and heat.
There are apricot, lotus, chrysanthemum, and camellia flower extracts in the formula to strengthen and lock in moisture, while thanaka extracts soothe and cool the skin. The oil-free, water-resistant formula is a dream come true for those with oily, acne-prone skin.
MISSHA All-Around Safe Block Essence Sun SPF45 PA+++ retails for S$11.20 at Althea.
Canmake Mermaid Skin Gel UV SPF 50+ PA++++
If you prefer a gel sunscreen over a cream one, try Canmake’s Mermaid Skin Gel. Its cooling texture glides across your skin effortlessly without leaving a sticky after-feel. It actually comes in two versions: Clear and White. The White boasts a brightening effect but it’s not ideal for those with darker skin tones. Hence, we recommend the Clear version.
The light, watery formula offers SPF50 protection and keeps your skin hydrated throughout the day. It’s water-resistant and sweat-proof too – perfect for our humid weather and under-the-mask heat.
Canmake Mermaid Skin Gel UV SPF 50+ PA++++ retails for ¥1,059 (S$13.72) at Kokoro Japan.
Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence SPF50+/PA++++
Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence takes sun protection to the next level. It uses an advanced micro-defence formula that allows the sunscreen to glide evenly onto the skin to prevent any micro-level gaps. That way, you’ll get a full, even coverage of sun protection.
It has a smooth, light finish without leaving a tacky feel on the surface of your skin. The Aqua Rich Watery Essence keeps your skin hydrated and can also be used as a makeup primer.
Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence SPF50+/PA++++ retails for ¥998 (S$12.94) at Kokoro Japan.
Anessa Perfect UV Mild Milk SPF50+ PA++++
We often worry about losing sun protection when we sweat, but Anessa’s Perfect UV Mild Milk does the opposite. When exposed to sweat and water, the advanced technology used in the sunscreen actually boosts UV protection, preventing damage caused by powerful rays.
It has a milky, lightweight texture that smoothes over the skin easily, creating a canvas that’s a perfect base for makeup.
Anessa Perfect UV Mild Milk SPF50+ PA++++ retails for S$39.90 at Watsons.
Neogen Day-Light Protection Sun Screen SPF 50 PA+++
If silicones tend to clog your pores, opt for Neogen’s Day-Light Protection Sun Screen. It is a light, fluid-like sunscreen that offers major protection with broad-spectrum SPF 50.
Rose and raspberry extracts provide lasting, nourishing hydration, so it boosts moisture levels for those with dry skin. Those with normal or oily skin can even use this as a moisturiser. It wears well under makeup, and it doesn’t leave a white cast or greasy feel on your skin.
Neogen Day-Light Protection Sun Screen SPF 50 PA+++ retails for S$32.10 at Althea.
Ultrasun Face Tinted Anti-Pigmentation SPF50+
Recommended by Caroline Hirons, the beauty industry’s fairy godmother, Ultrasun’s Face Tinted Anti-Pigmentation sunscreen works to prevent, brighten, and diminish pigmentation. It provides high sun protection against UVA, UVB, blue light, and even infrared-A rays.
The multipurpose cream creates a matte finish that stays put throughout the day, and it doubles up as a primer and moisturiser too. It’s made without any oils and fragrances, so it’s ideal for those with sensitive and acne-prone skin.
Ultrasun Face Tinted Anti-Pigmentation SPF50+ retails for S$54.25 at Beauty Bay.