As the weather is warming up I thought this would be the best time to make some sunscreen recommendations in the drugstore price range for my melanin rich kinfolk. I’m sure this skincare myth has been fully debunked by now but just for clarification - people with darker skin tones DO get sunburned and therefore need sunscreen.
Cheers to a cast-free summer! 🍹
Before my lighter hued brethren start screaming about discrimination ("reverse racism" is not a thing by the way! 🙃), the reason this post is directed at people of darker skin tones is because most sunscreens that appear clear or simply light on fairer skin tones, coat darker skin with an unflattering purple or ashy-grey tone. The products mentioned below do not leave any such cast and are therefore ideal for people of all skin tones. Other than preventing sunburn, sunscreen works wonders on hyperpigmentation (a skin concern for many people of colour) when used regularly.
For those of you who are still unsure about the order in which to apply your skincare products, here's a reminder:
Cleanser ➡️ Toner ➡️ Treatments (serums, spot remedies etc) ➡️ Moisturiser ➡️ Oil ➡️ Sunscreen ➡️ Make-up
As long as your sunscreen has a minimum SPF (Sun Protection Factor) of 30 then you are adequately protected. Sunscreens, based on their ingredients, can be classed as either 'chemical' which is absorbed by your skin or 'physical' (also known as 'mineral') which sit on top of your skin. Physical sunscreens are the ones that tend to leave those unflattering casts on your skin but are the best sunscreen for kids due to their low penetration power. I could go into the science of sunscreen and SPF but I’m sure you just came here for a list so here it is:
1. The Body Shop® Skin Defence™ Multi-Protection Essence
Size: Available in 30ml and 60ml
Price: £17 and £21
Where to buy it: The Body Shop® (UK only)
Product overall rating: 5/5
This sunscreen has a price tag that sits between drugstore and high-end but it is my absolute favourite and holy grail sunscreen for the face because it leaves my skin looking smooth and moisturised. Although the product itself is white, it goes on clear, is lightweight and it's perfect for daily use. This is not a moisturiser but, depending on where I have been in the world, I have used it as one; ideally you should moisturise your face first and then apply it on top. It is a perfect base for make-up application and it did not aggravate my skin while it was having a tantrum. The only downside to this product is that alcohol is second on the ingredients list. Personally I have not found this product drying at all, however it is worth taking into consideration when purchasing.
2. Aveeno Natural Protection Oil-Free Sunscreen Lotion
Where to buy it: Target, Walgreens, CVS
Product overall rating: 3/5
For those with sensitive skin, Aveeno Natural Protection Oil-Free Sunscreen Lotion may work wonders. This moisturiser is formulated with soothing oats, is hypoallergenic and fragrance-free. The lotion was easy to apply and absorbed quickly leaving a clear, moisturised shine-free finish. The product itself was great but I love lightly scented products so this one didn't stand a chance of making it into my holy grail category. Unfortunately this product is only available in the US.
3. Nivea Sun Protect & Refresh Cooling Sun Mist
SPF: 50 (Available in SPF 30 and SPF 20)
Where to buy it: Superdrug
Product overall rating: 5/5
This was the sunscreen that renewed my faith in sunscreens. The summer of '07 was a particularly purple-hued summer for me, my pictures were horrendous and I am convinced that the sunscreen I applied worked as cooking oil (I had never gotten so dark before or since!) so I swore off sunscreen. A few years later I stumbled across this gem and it has been riding with me ever since. In addition to being water resistant, this all over body spray has a pleasant cooling effect. The formula is transparent and therefore does not need to be worked into the skin to make it cast-free. To apply it to the face, I spray it into my hands first. It has a very slight but pleasant fragrance and leaves a nice healthy shine to the skin without being oily or greasy. Game changer!
4. Garnier Ambre Solaire Protection Lotion
SPF: 30 (Available in SPF 50)
Size: Available in 50ml and 200ml
Price: £3 and £6
Where to buy it: Boots
Product overall rating: 3/5
This product was mentioned in a Twitter thread (follow me @notrude_honest!) and the product junkie in me couldn't resist trying it. It's consistency is slightly thicker than the others on this list so I'm not sure if it would be ideal for oily skin types however, it absorbs quickly and doesn't feel heavy on the skin. This is a face and body moisturiser so it can be used alone. The lotion has the typical 'sunscreen scent' which lingers for a while and it needs to be worked in properly in order to be clear so a little goes a long way (not too little or you won't be protected!).
5. La Roche-Posay Anthelios Melt-In Milk Lotion
Where to buy it: Target
Product overall rating: 4/5
La Roche-Posay sunscreen is quite popular and it's another product with a price tag that sits between drugstore and high-end. The formula is lightweight, oil-free, fragrance-free, hypoallergenic and non-comedogenic so, like the Aveeno mentioned above, it may work well for those with sensitive skin as well as for those prone to acne. It's a face and body sunscreen and it leaves a nice matte finish which makes it ideal for make-up application. This particular product is only available in the US however I think, based on ingredients and product claims, the 'La Roche-Posay Anthelios Comfort Sun Lotion SPF 50' would be a close match in the UK (I haven't tried it!).
That's it for my list! I have tested all these products in both cold and hot weather (the benefits of being bicoastal!) and I have had great experiences with them all. If you have any more recommendations, please drop them in the comments below, "Each one, teach one"! 😉
If you found this content helpful, feel free to buy me a coffee. 😊