With summer on the horizon, it’s time to get your skincare arsenal sorted. But worryingly, a recent L’Oréal US study revealed that many women of colour aren’t protecting their skin, noting that “65% of surveyed African Americans never wore sunscreen, despite their locations, and that more than 60% of minority respondents erroneously believed that they were not at risk for skin cancer.”
“Like every other skin tone, black skin does need a minimum SPF30 for protection against UVA/B rays,” she told Harper's Bazaar. “Although dark skin already has a head start with sun protection due to the melanin, it isn’t enough to rely on this alone and without adequate protection, dark skin is prone to diseases like skin cancer too. [Black] skin can become burnt, painful and blistered just like Caucasian skin. Adequate sun protection is a must: finding shade during high sunshine, wearing a hat, loose cover-up clothing and using sun protection.”
When it comes to sunscreen, there are two different types – chemical and physical. Physical sunscreens contain active minerals such as zinc oxide or titanium oxide, which work by sitting on top of the skin and deflecting and scattering damaging UV rays away. But as many women of colour know, these physical sun blockers can leave an unflattering white residue on the skin, causing a chalky or ashy appearance. They can often feel thick and sticky too, and, if not removed thoroughly, can lead to clogged pores and breakouts.
Step in, new-gen ‘invisible’ sunscreens. Both traditional physical sunscreens and more modern chemical types – typically containing ingredients like avobenzone and homosalate, which penetrate the skin and soak up damaging rays – have been given a much needed makeover, with feather-light formulas, clear finishes and not a hint of stickiness in sight.
The product making the headlines right now is Black Girl Sunscreen – having gone viral after being shared on Reddit, where it was hailed as a game-changing formula for women of colour. As the company is US-based, the transatlantic shipping costs are steep, but there are a number of other industry-approved invisible options providing similar results (without the hefty postage fee).
YouTube beauty guru Jackie Aina swears by Benefit Dream Screen, Murad Invisiblur Perfecting Shield and Glossier Invisible Shield, while fellow beauty vlogger Just Add Melanin recommends Neutrogena Age Shield Oil-Free Lotion and Shiseido Urban Environment Oil-Free UV Protector. Plus, a clear (and seriously refreshing) SPF mist by Bioderma, and an innovative protecting water by Vichy – packed with hydrating hyaluronic acid – have got many a beauty editor's seal of approval.
Need to stock up on SPF? Shop our pick of the best invisible suncreens…
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