Skincare and sunscreen product textures

6 Best sunscreens for People of Color in 2020

October 14, 2020

Dear Brown People: please wear sunscreen.

By Samia Abbasi, Editor

Growing up, sunscreen was never a priority in my family. We’d only really use it when we went to the beach or hiking — a thick sunscreen from Walgreens that would leave a tacky, white cast on our skin and an inescapably strong smell. That changed the summer of 2016, when I went to visit my sister in Japan. She introduced me to Nivea Sun Protect Water Gel Sunscreen, and I’ve been using it almost every day, ever since. It checks all the boxes: it blends into my skin without a white sheen, has a very light scent, and doesn’t break me out. At Kulfi, we noticed a common narrative in our Beauty Diaries: brown people aren’t encouraged to wear sunscreen year-round, but we must. 

There are 2 main types of sunscreen: Chemical and Physical. 

There is a common myth that chemical and physical sunscreens work in different ways. But according to Michelle of Lab Muffin, they both “mostly absorb UV and turn it into heat, but physical sunscreens scatter and reflect a really small amount – around 10% of incoming UV over the range of UV wavelengths. But this is only 10%, so it isn’t the main reason why physical sunscreens can be used as sunscreens: it’s mostly because they can absorb UV and convert it to heat, just like chemical sunscreens.” Both kinds of sunscreen are great for hyperpigmented skin, and chemical sunscreens tend to leave less of a white cast. You can read or watch more of Lab Muffin's SPF Myth Busting content here.

Our Kulfi community recommends 6 products that not only protect you from the sun, but also blend naturally into your skin:

1. PURITO Centella Green Level Unscented Sun ($18.90)

PURITO Centella Green Level Unscented Sun

“Purito’s Centella Green Level Unscented Sun is definitely one of my favorite products ever, and it’s especially great for brown skin. There is a widely believed myth that people of color don’t need sunscreen. That is a lie. WE ALL NEED SUNSCREEN! But people of color do struggle to find one they actually like. Most of the SPF products on the market are not really formulated keeping us in mind. They leave a white cast and feel very uncomfortable on the skin. But this one is just amazing. Korean and Japanese sunscreens use new updated SPF filters which are very lightweight, come in many different textures, and work wonders on our skin. I would recommend this to everyone!” —Ria Biyani, @rithink_skin

Editor's Note: It was recently revealed that Purito has a lower amount of SPF (tested at SPF 19) than they claim (SPF 50). Please watch this video by Lab Muffin to learn more.

Sunscreen type: Chemical

2. La Roche Posay Anthelios Mineral Zinc Oxide Sunscreen - SPF 50 ($33.50)

La Roche Posay Anthelios Mineral Zinc Oxide Sunscreen

“The last step of my skincare routine in the morning is La Roche Posay SPF 50 Mineral Sunscreen. A good SPF is important; sun exposure makes up for 80% of aging (fine lines and wrinkles). Skin cancer is also one of the most common cancers in the U.S. affecting 1 in 5 Americans every year.” —Ayisha Riaz, @ayisthetics

Sunscreen type: Physical

3. Paula's Choice RESIST Skin Restoring Sunscreen - SPF 50 ($33)

Paula's Choice RESIST Skin Restoring Sunscreen

“Because we come from very sun-exposed countries, we need to talk to our community about using SPF. Our community does not take skincare seriously whatsoever. I had to hassle my mother for, like, two or three years before she wore sunscreen. She used to say, ‘I'll just do my natural stuff.’ And I was like, ‘No, you need to wear SPF, because natural stuff is not going to prevent cancer from coming into your body!’ This kind of education is important. I use Paula's Choice Skin Restoring SPF 50 Sunscreen. No white cast, and it helps with acne.” —Sofia Joy,

Sunscreen type: Chemical

4. Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen - SPF 40 ($34)

Supergoop sunscreen

“As someone who recently discovered the need for sunscreen (thanks to a fun SEPHORA outing with Priyanka), but previously avoided it because of the texture of most products, I love Supergoop! It’s concept of ‘Unseen Sunscreen’ is 100% accurate; it’s oil free and you can barely even feel it on your skin. Since it’s weightless and colorless, it's perfect for everyday use!” —Pritika Gupta, @pritikagupta

Sunscreen type: Chemical

5. CeraVe Tinted Sunscreen - SPF 30 ($15.99)

CeraVe Tinted Sunscreen

“Finding a sunscreen that can realistically be used regularly can be a struggle, especially for South Asian skin tones. When COVID hit, I found myself working from my backyard everyday to get fresh hair and pretend to be ‘outside.’ In order to stay protected and not run through my expensive Elta MD sunscreen, I discovered CeraVe Tinted Sunscreen. It’s half the price but packed with three essential ceramides to help restore skin's natural barrier. It gives zero cast, has Niacinamide that helps with pigmentation issues, and still makes a beautiful finish that doesn’t require foundation on top.” — Mana Shah, @naturallyyou_bymana

Sunscreen type: Physical 

6. Krave The Beet Shield ($20)

Krave Beauty The Beet Shield

“Finding a quality sunscreen that wouldn’t create a white cast was super important to me, and this is easily one of the BEST products I’ve ever used. The Beet Shield melts seamlessly onto skin and creates a protective layer that can’t be seen or detected. I love it because I’ve finally found a product that protects and enhances my melanin.” —Zehra Naqvi, @zehra_hk

Editor's Note: In 2021, Krave Beauty recently announced that they are discontinuing sales of The Beet Shield, due to the product containing less SPF than what was claimed. Read more about it here.


Images from brands' Instagram pages.

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