I may be dating myself here but do you remember the song, “Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen)” by Baz Luhrmann? In it, he recites a hypothetical commencement speech by Pulitzer Prize winning columnist Mary Schmich. There were some real gems in that song and I remember it being the anthem of my life back in the ‘90s.
Baz and Mary were right on a lot of things in that song, but while everybody is free to wear sunscreen, for far too long, many brands didn’t make sunscreen that worked well for people of color. I remember trying countless sunscreens on my face only to be left with a white-colored cast on my skin. I don’t think this is what Baz had in mind.
Recently, I was at a lake with a friend, who is white, when she genuinely asked me why I was putting on sunscreen—she assumed that I didn’t need it because of my deep complexion. I quickly showed her my tan lines and she looked shocked. Yes, Black people get darker in the sun just like anyone else. In fact, I love that my skin gets a shade or two deeper in the summer and brings out a richer, coffee-colored complexion.
Unfortunately, many sunscreens weren’t formulated for people who have more melanin in their skin and that’s frustrating as darker skin still needs protection from the sun—skin cancer affects us all. I’ve tried and tested several sunscreens over the years, and here are my top five that keep me protected from the sun (without leaving a white film on my skin):
SPF 40 and free from parabens, sulfates, phthalates, and synthetic fragrances. I steer clear from fragrances in skincare products as my eczema will flair up with heavily fragranced products. This product also goes on completely sheer on the skin which I absolutely love. Use if you have sensitive skin or if you want a cleaner beauty option.
This facial sunscreen absorbs quickly into the skin leaving a matte finish and is exceptional for sensitive skin. It's an oldie but goodie and one of the first sunscreens that actually worked with my deeper complexion. Use if you’re looking for a matte finish, I especially love this in cool to colder temperatures.
Excellent drugstore pick so it’s easy to get your hands on and super affordable. It feels clean on the skin and not at all heavy while providing broad spectrum coverage with SPF 55. Use this sunscreen if you’re looking for an affordable option that still packs a punch.
This invisible formula is perfect for quick application and provides good sun protection with SPF 35. No white cast, super light-weight, and easy to apply—check, check, check. I use this on my face and my makeup blends in perfectly so use if you’re looking for an option that plays well with makeup.
I love this SPF especially if you’re prone to hyperpigmentation or you want to provide extra protection for any scarring. This is a smaller bottle but I have found that a little goes a long way. Use on your face for those extra sensitive areas.
Try any one of these whether you’re a BIPOC or not and enjoy those rays safely—finally, everyone is free to wear sunscreen. Thanks, Baz. ;)