With the first ocean swims of the season under our belt and the warm evening air on our faces, we reckon it’s safe to call it: summer is on its way. And with it comes a renewed focus on sun protection. Now, this isn’t to say you shouldn’t be wearing sunscreen every single day regardless of the season. “If it’s bright enough for you to see your hand, it’s bright enough to get sun damage,” is a maxim that lives rent free in my head that I refuse to fact check because it’s so effective in getting my skincare dilettante friends to wear their SPF.
Sunscreen is the best preventative step against premature skin damage and something most of us have had drilled in as essential under the Australian sun. Modern formulations are also finally becoming more conscious of their environmental impact too, with way more “reef safe” sunscreen options on the market. Coral bleaching, we do not love to see it. What we also don’t love to see when it comes to sunscreen? A white cast. No, not the Gossip Girl kind but the chalky, white or grey residue that many, many sunscreens can leave on people with deeper skin tones.
But it’s fine right, we don’t burn we just tan? Incorrect. As sun protection brand Black Girl Sunscreen explained to Harper’s BAZAAR, “It is a myth that people of colour don’t need to wear sunscreen.”
“This misconception may have to do with much of the advertising and public awareness campaigns [around sun protection] being geared towards fair-skinned individuals. However, people of colour are also at risk of getting skin cancer despite additional melanin in the skin.” So, if you’re in the market for a sunscreen that won’t leave a white cast and put a real damper on your Hot Girl Summer plans, these are my tried and tested favourites.
The Very Best Sunscreens For People With Darker Skin Tones
Okay, when I first saw this sunny SPF bottle on my Instagram feed I was a lil skeptical. Mother SPF is an entirely zinc-based sunscreen, meaning it’s a purely physical SPF that uses zinc oxides to physically block UVA and UVA rays to protect you. A chemical SPF, on the other hand, uses ingredients that absorb those harmful rays to stop ’em damaging your skin. I tend not to do too well with physical zinc-based SPFs because of the ghostly white-purple cast it often leaves and was even more intrigued to find that Mother SPF doesn’t use nano zinc particles. Now, your body your choice obvs, but some people prefer to steer clear from sunscreens that use zinc nanoparticles because they can be absorbed by the body. That said, the science doesn’t say that we should bin them all right now, just that they could potentially cause some less than ideal side effects or reactions.
So we’re working with a non-nano zinc-based SPF that’s got a short and very clean ingredients list (either sustainably sourced, Australian certified organic or Ecocert certified) and it comes in packaging made from post-consumer resin plastics? This really sounds… too good to be true. I am v pleased to report, however, that Mother SPF is an excellent and blessedly fragrance-free sunscreen. It’s a little thicker texturally than some of my other picks, but it sinks in *so* nicely, doesn’t leave a white cast, and feels very emollient and protective thanks to the coconut oil and candelilla wax. If you’re really stringent about what’s going on your skin, but refuse to settle for unsophisticated formulas that are uncomfortably thick or bad for the environment, this one is for you.
Organic Mineral Sunscreen SPF30, $42, from Mother SPF.
A very vibey SPF option I’m into right now comes from the good folks at Everyday Humans. They’re an SPF-focused brand doing what I never thought I’d see in the beauty industry: making sunscreen cool. The hero of the range is their Resting Beach Face Sunscreen Serum, which like most of the rest of this list is a reef-friendly chemical SPF. Texture wise, it’s so lovely and lightly scented with a COSMOS certified natural fragrance. On the ingredients front, it boasts some skin-friendly green tea and spinach leaf extracts, hence the “serum” title.
This is one I’d be happy to use over a hydrating essence/serum/face oil as a one-two punch of moisturiser and sunscreen all on its own. Ideal for lazy mornings or skincare minimalists. While we don’t have the full range of the brands SPFs available in Australia, which aims to cater to a variety of skin types and tones, this is one I think would suit pretty much everyone, every day.
The rest of the range includes a body SPF—because we’re not just a pretty face—and a lip balm. Btw, the Oh My Bod! SPF 50 Body Sunscreen is so lightweight and buttery you might find yourself burying it in your beach bag because it’s too nice to share. Pls make it in a bigger size so we can slip slop slap with abandon!
Resting Beach Face SPF30 Sunscreen Serum, $41 from Sephora.
The hype is v well deserved for this delightful sunscreen from Ultra Violette. With a skin-friendly light-weight formula that’s moisturising enough to use as alone as your daytime moisturiser, this little tube has served me extremely well over the cooler months. Now that we’re moving into a sweatier summer, the matte and ultra light Queen Screen are next on the list to try.
Supreme Screen SPF 50+ Hydrating Facial Sunscreen, $45 from Ultra Violette.
Classics are classics for a reason and in the case of this sunscreen from Aussie retailer Mecca Cosmetica, there are many reasons. As well as boasting an SPF factor of 50+, which you know is actually real because it was vetted by Australian standards, this moisturising sunscreen has an ideal finish for applying makeup over top. So you can go ahead and skip your day cream and your primer.
To Save Face SPF50+ Superscreen, $40 from MECCA.
The Bioré UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence SPF 50+ PA++++ is truly one of the GOATs. Japan (and South Korea) are known for their advanced sunscreen formulations, which are often much more refined than Western variants. The Bioré is no exception: it’s incredibly lightweight, has high sun protection, includes skin-loving ingredients like hyaluronic acid and sits well under makeup. *chef kiss*
Bioré UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence SPF 50+ PA++++, $15.89 from YesStyle.
One option if you’re v ~sensitive~ that I’d recommend is the La Roche-Posay Anthelios Ultra Facial Sunscreen. While it’s ever so slightly thicker than some of the other options on this list, it boasts a high SPF, a fragrance free formula and melts into the skin with no white cast in sight.
La Roche-Posay Anthelios Ultra Facial Sunscreen SPF 50+, $29.95 from Adore Beauty.
We Are Feel Good Inc
A final sunscreen suggestion comes from the relative newcomer We Are Feel Good Inc. They’re Australian owned and made and offer a bunch of different reef safe SPF formulas. We’re particularly into the fragrance free options for sensitive skin, which will probably last you a while if you’re using just on your face as it’s a generous sized bottle. And cute too!
Sensitive Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50+, $29.95 from We Are Feel Good Inc.