Photograph: Lola Swan

Sun Protection for Dark Skin Tones

Words: Abisoye Odugbesan

Searching for a new bikini for my holiday usually fills me with dread, mainly because I never feel beach-body-ready and partly because trying on swimwear requires taking everything else off, it’s just such a faff. What does get me excited though is shopping for toiletries for my trips. For someone who tries to be “efficient” with my cash (this doesn’t apply to shoes) I’m quite happy to part with my money for cute miniature bottles of Source Mint Shower Gel and tiny cans of deodorant sprays that offer virtually no value for money when you consider how much you get in the mini containers compared to the contents of a full bottle. But they’re weirdly satisfying and I love shopping for them.

On a recent visit to Superdrug with a friend who was picking up some bits for a weekend get away, the topic of SPF came up as she checked off her list. I reminded her not to forget sun protection. She shrugged, “who needs SPF when you’re blessed with melanin magic, right?”

In truth, the melanin in dark skin does act as a natural defence but it’s magical powers has it’s limits especially when it comes to protecting you from prolonged exposure to the sun. There is a huge misconception that black skin doesn’t need to be protected from the sun but in addition to the obvious dangers; skin cancer, premature ageing, hyperpigmentation is another side effect that dark skin in particular can suffer from as the sun deepens any dark marks or blemishes that you may already have.  If uneven skin tone is an issue for you then for that reason alone incorporating an SPF into your skincare routine is essential. Thankfully, there are now more options available on the market that won’t leave your skin with streaks of chalky residue. Here are our favourite formulas that provide invisible protection whilst blending effortlessly into your skin.

Claudalie Milky Sun Spray SPF50


For their newly launched suncare range Caudalie have banned the use of controversial filters from its formulas. This includes chemical filters suspected of being endocrine disruptors, such as octinoxate and octocrylene, nanoparticle filters, and other filters known to be toxic to the marine environment, making the new line reef-safe.

Claudalie Milky Sun Spray SPF50, 21

Avène Very High Protection Spray SPF50


The Avène Very High Protection Spray is formulated specially for hypersensitive skin, l skin prone to sunburn and skin exposed to intense sunlight. It offers protection against UVB and also short and long UVA rays. Enriched with vitamin E to help protect skin cells from free radicals, it is also paraben, alcohol and silicone free.

Avène Very High Protection Spray, £20

Green People Scent Free Sun Lotion SP30


Not only is the Green People Sun Lotion an organic (84% certified organic ingredients), broad spectrum sunscreen that works to shield skin from both UVA and UVB rays, it is free from parabens and harmful chemicals making it completely reed-sage. The packaging is plant-based and fully recyclable and if that wasn’t enough it is also suitable for sensitive skin and those who suffer from prickly heat.

Green People Scent Free Sun Lotion, £22.50

Zelens Body Defence Sunscreen SPF 30


This super light weight  sunscreen oil provides broad spectrum protection. This is important to look out for in sun protection as it protects you from both UVA and UVB radiation. UVA rays can penetrate deep into skin and cause damage at cellular level. They’re powerful enough to cause havoc on sunny or cloudy days and can even penetrate windows!  UVB is the radiation that causes your skin to burn. Zelens oil protects against both and is formulated with  powerful antioxidants to fight against the formation of free radicals whilst keeping skin moisturised.

Zelens Body Defence Sunscreen, £55

La Roche-Posay Anthelios Invisble Anti-Shine Mist SPF 50 


‘Specially formulated for oily and blemish-prone skin and suitable for sensitive skin’. This fresh face mist provides an impressively high protection of both UVA and UVB protection,  it’s completely invisible, extremely light and doesn’t leave a sticky residue plus it’s paraben free, hypo-allergenic and water resistant. A very efficient little protector.

La Roche-Posay Anthelios Invisble Anti-Shine Mist, £14

Susanne Kaufmann Body Broad Spectrum Protection Sunscreen SPF25


With it’s patented combination of cosmeceuticals and organic UVA and UVB filter the Body Broad Spectrum provides skin and sun care in one bottle. Formulated with skin nourishing jojoba seed oil and fruit extracts a plant compound of active ingredients that work together to repair damaged skin cells and protect against free radicals. This water resistant sunscreen is suitable for sensitive skin,  gentle enough for children and it can be used for both face and body. It’s pricey but you get a lot in return for your dollar.

Susanne Kaufmann Body Broad Spectrum Protection Sunscreen, £57

Ultrasun Sports Formula Transparent Sun Protection Gel SPF50


If you’re looking for high-factor sun-care this gel is fast-absorbing, non-greasy with transparent UVA and UVB protection. An advanced water-resistant formula makes it ideal for outdoor and water sports. It doesn’t contain any mineral oils, aluminium compounds or Parabens and is gentle enough to use on your scalp and hairline an area that is just as prone to burning.

Ultrasun Sports Formula Transparent Sun Protection Gel, £26

Riemann P20 Once A Day Sun Protection SPF20


This quick drying spray becomes activate 15 minutes after application and provides 10 hours of protection. “P20 is proven to remain effective in water”, perfect if you’re planning on dipping in and out of the pool. An easy to use spray, it is completely absorbed leaving no tell tale white marks, provides essential UVA and UVB cover and is free from artificial preservatives.

Riemann P20 Once A Day Sun Protection, £13.99

Main image Photo: Lola Swan