You've already heard how important it is to protect your skin from the sun, and wearing sunscreen is an easy way to maintain that daily habit. But dark skin and sunscreen haven't always lived in harmony, and the thick, ghostly white formulas of the past may still leave you feeling wary.

Enter tinted sunscreen. A touch of color and lightweight coverage with the same protection as traditional sunscreen—what's not to love? Tinted sunscreen for dark skin can be a wonderful alternative to traditional formulas for several reasons. Read on to separate the myths from the facts and learn why tinted sunscreen may become your favorite daily essential.

Do You Really Need to Wear Sunscreen?

While many myths surround sun protection for Black and brown skin, wearing sunscreen daily is a must for all skin tones. This basic sun-safety practice helps you maintain your healthiest, best-looking skin. It's true that people with more melanin (the natural pigment that gives your skin and hair its color) won't burn as quickly as someone with lighter skin. But this isn't enough to protect you from the sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays. No amount of melanin can fully protect you from sun damage or skin cancer.

For context, UV rays cause 90 percent of nonmelanoma skin cancers and 80 percent of skin aging. And while people of color have a lower risk of developing skin cancer, the mortality rate from melanoma is higher. Since the initial signs of skin cancer in dark skin tend to be less obvious, they're often overlooked, missing the window for early intervention.

Is Tinted Sunscreen Good for Dark Skin?

No single formula will work for everyone, but when choosing the best sunscreen for Black skin, let your skin type and concerns guide you. No matter what direction this takes you, here are a few reasons you may want to start with a tinted formula.

Relaxed man with black skin breathing fresh air with hands on head in the mountain

Kicks White Cast to the Curb

Some physical (or mineral) sunscreens can leave behind a white cast, or ashy appearance, on darker skin tones. Mineral blockers like Zinc Oxide have plenty of skin benefits, but going on sheer doesn't typically top the list. Tinted mineral formulas like EltaMD UV Restore Tinted Broad-Spectrum SPF 40 are formulated with a subtle tint to blend seamlessly with your complexion.

Comes in Formulas That Address Common Skin Concerns

Many tinted sunscreens come with added skin care benefits. For example, Hyaluronic Acid attracts and locks in moisture to keep your skin hydrated and plump throughout the day, which minimizes the look of fine lines and wrinkles. You can also find Ginger Root Extract in tinted sunscreen formulas, which reduces dark spots and discoloration.

Protects Skin from Visible Light

The tint in tinted sunscreens comes from Iron Oxides. These pigments offer added protection from high-energy visible (HEV) light. This light, also known as blue light, comes from smartphone, TV, and computer screens. Protecting your skin from HEV light is especially key if you have dark skin. Black and brown skin is more prone to pigmentation concerns, such as hyperpigmentation and melasma, which HEV-induced oxidative stress can exacerbate. HEV light also breaks down elastin and collagen in the skin, leaving it more susceptible to wrinkles and laxity.

Offers a Range of Coverage

The final thing to think about when choosing a tinted sunscreen for dark skin is shade depth. While some formulas primarily neutralize white cast and blur mild imperfections, deeper shades can offer more coverage. It may take some experimenting to find your favorite tint. Start with a formula that works well with a broad range of skin tones, like EltaMD UV AOX Elements Broad-Spectrum SPF 50. This antioxidant-rich facial sunscreen is water-resistant, noncomedogenic (won't clog your pores), and suitable for all skin types. Based on a sample of 175 people, 90 percent agreed it blends well with their skin tone.

UV Clear Deep Tinted SPF is designed with 5% Niacinamide to reduce the appearance of blemishes and discolorations while protecting deeper skin tones from harmful UVA and UVB rays. This sunscreen is tested for deeper skin tones and features invisible blend technology that blends in sheer for a no white cast finish.

Enjoying Life in the Sun

Now that you know more about the benefits of tinted sunscreen for dark skin, explore your options until you find one that fits seamlessly into your daily routine—just like brushing your teeth or swiping on deodorant. The secret to building the habit is to find a formula you love so you'll look forward to applying it every day. It's a small price to pay for healthy skin!


  • Catherine Hufton

    Catherine Hufton is a UK-based freelance journalist and writer who has worked for some of fashion's most iconic companies and written for the world's best known magazines and newspapers. Beginning her career at Net-a-Porter and Matches Fashion over 12 years ago, she has created content for L'Oréal, Elle, Harper's Bazaar, The Telegraph and more.

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