I’m pretty faithful with sunscreen. I follow the two-finger rule, reapply throughout the brightest hours of the day, and when the day is over, I take it all off with my trusty cleansing balm and hydrating face wash. But compared to watching my serum drop aesthetically on my cheek or patting in my moisturiser, I do not necessarily enjoy applying sunscreen as much as I do with the rest of my routine. Because let’s face it: applying sunscreen is a bit of a chore. Sure, it protects our skin from the harmful effects of the sun’s rays and keeps premature ageing at bay, but it can feel like a never-ending chore all the same.
After years of religiously applying sunscreen, I and several skincare experts and enthusiasts have found that the trick to staying somewhat consistent with sunscreen application (and reapplication) is to find one you enjoy. And by this, I mean one that feels great, has your preferred finish and leaves none of the dreaded white cast sunscreens is notorious for. But for people of colour, specifically black girls, finding a sunscreen that ticks all our boxes of consistency, finish, and affordability is a complex task. So if this is you, we’re here to help with our curation of the best sunscreens we’ve tried, loved and will be repurchasing.
Get ready for some black girl-friendly UV protection.
Testing Standards and My Skin Type
When testing sunscreens, I have three primary criteria: the consistency and feel of the product, the finish immediately and a few hours after application, and the price point. Here at 21 Magazine, we believe sunscreens (and other skincare categories) do not have to be pricey to be effective, but we also love a good splurge.
My skin type and preference also affect my impression of sunscreens, so keep this in mind if you have a different skin type or varying skin concerns. That said, I have normal to combination skin, where my jaw, temples, and forehead are dry, and my t-zone is slightly oily. My major skincare concerns are my acne scars, large pores, and hyperpigmentation around my mouth and forehead.
- Our A-Beauty faves: Uncover Skincare Aloe Invisible Sunscreen SPF 50+ and Arami Essentials Ultra Shade Ultra-Light Sunscreen SPF 50
- For our oily skin girlies: La Roche-Posay Anthelios Ultra Fluid Invisible Finish Sunscreen
- For our dry skin girlies: Black Girl Sunscreen Kids SPF 50 and Bondi Sands SPF 50 Sunscreen Lotion
- For our combination skin girlies: Naturium Dew-Glow Moisturizer SPF 50
- For our acne-prone girlies: Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence Sunscreen
- For our sensitive skin girlies: Tower 28 SunnyDays Tinted Sunscreen SPF 30
- For both face and body: Black Girl Sunscreen Kids SPF 50
- Our budget choice: Skin Science Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50+
- Our favourite tinted sunscreen: Tower 28 SunnyDays Tinted Sunscreen SPF 30
- Our favourite stick sunscreen: Tocobo Cotton Soft Sun Stick SPF 50+
Uncover Skincare’s Aloe Invisible Sunscreen SPF 50+
I first tried the Uncover sunscreen at a beauty convention some months back, and what caught my eye was its rather eclectic mix of two skincare themes I’ve come to love: African beauty, or A-Beauty, and Korean Skincare, or K-Beauty.
Their aloe invisible sunscreen is just as the name says – invisible. With a mix of hyaluronic acid and African aloe vera as its star ingredients, this sunscreen glides on smoothly and leaves no trace of a white cast in less than 2 minutes of blending and patting it into my skin. One peculiar thing about its formula is how cooling it feels on the skin, which reminds me of my first-ever sunscreen, Korean Beauty’s Missha All-Around Safe Block Essence Sun Gel. Uncover Skincare merges African ingredients with K-beauty technology, so the cooling sensation I’ve likened to K-Beauty products makes perfect sense. It makes my skin feel plump and gives it a dewy look, most likely due to the hyaluronic acid in the formula. Either way, this has quickly become a fave on my vanity, and I would readily recommend it to everyone around me.
Price: This sunscreen retails for ~NGN14,000* and is available on the Uncover Skincare website and Skin Science Africa stores.
Arami Essentials’ Ultra Shade Ultra-light Sunscreen Lotion
When I first started getting into skincare in my first year of uni, Arami Essentials was my go-to. After every shower, I generously applied their glow oil, and their body butters became my best friends in the harmattan season. I was what you’d call an ardent fan of the brand’s natural skincare ethos. Years later, Arami Essentials announced a sunscreen with SPF 50, veering slightly from their more natural skincare route. With my interest piqued, I gave it a try.
True to its name, this sunscreen blends in quickly, so much so that it almost feels like I am wearing nothing atop my skin. It is lightweight and is also fragrance-free. If you’re looking for a simple, effective sunscreen that leaves a smooth, satin finish on your skin, this deserves a spot on your rotation.
Price: This sunscreen retails for NGN9,400* and is available on the Arami Essentials website.
La Roche-Posay Anthelios Ultra Fluid Invisible Finish Sunscreen
While testing sunscreens and curating this list, one of the things I really looked out for was hydration. Sunscreens shield us from the sun’s rays but don’t protect us from losing water through our skin in the heat. Also, for a quick biology class, losing water through your skin is called trans epidermal water loss, or TEWL for short. The skin-damaging combo of TEWL and sun damage is why I’m a big fan of sunscreens that merge hydration and sun protection, and La Roche-Posay is an excellent example.
The texture of this sunscreen is runny, making the experience more like you’re applying serum instead of sunscreen. Formulated with vitamin E and glycerin, it feels super light on the skin and gives me such a soft, healthy glow. It also blends in super quickly so you do not need to worry about rubbing too much to get it to melt in. This sunscreen will be right up your alley if you want a lightweight sunscreen with no greasiness and a finish between dewy and satin.
Price: This sunscreen retails at $31.95* for 50 ml of product and is available at Skin Science Africa stores near you.
Black Girl Sunscreen Kids SPF 50
As a beauty writer, I try many products in PR; some make the cut and get repurchased, while others don’t. Of the few that get repurchased, even fewer have impressed me as much as Black Girl Sunscreen Kids. Believe me: I’ve gone through at least six tubes of this stuff. Even my mum’s addicted.
Black Girl Sunscreen Kids SPF 50 is for both the face and body, and its formula features ingredients like chamomile, jojoba oil, and avocado. It’s a moisturising sunscreen, so I like to use this on mornings when I don’t feel like doing my whole routine: just some cleanser and some of this sunscreen to do the 2-in-1 job of adding some much-needed moisture and protecting me from the sun.
My only problem is this can get greasy: so it might be a no for girls with oily skin or who prefer to avoid the overly dewy look. To tackle the grease, I like to let my sunscreen sit for a bit after blending and pat some talcum powder from my mum’s closet on the shiniest areas to tone it down. You can also do this with your compact or setting powder.
Price: This sunscreen sells at $10* for 89ml of product; you can find it in stores like Teeka4.
Bondi Sands Fragrance-Free Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50+
We love African Beauty, and we’re big fans of K-Beauty products, but we can not deny that Australian beauty brands are doing the damn thing. One of our favorite Australian beauty brands is Bondi Sands and their Sunscreen Lotion with SPF 50 is absolutely fab for any dark-skinned girl with dry skin.
Unlike the other sunscreens you’ll find on this list, I personally have not tried this even though I have used other Bondi Sands products and loved them. But I’ve only ever heard good things about it from the rest of the team, a few trusted skinfluencers, and my friends who use the product as well. Chinyere, a friend of mine who harbours a skincare obsession, says the sunscreen leaves zero white cast, is deeply moisturizing, and keeps her hydrated all day long. However, she has dry skin and says it can be greasy, even for her! So this one might not be for anyone with oily or combination skin like mine.
Overall, the jury is out on this sunscreen and the vote is you should get this if you have dry skin and you want moisture and protection in one tube.
Price: this sunscreen retails for ~NGN9,000* for 150ml of product. You can find it at stores like Care to Beauty.
Naturium Dew-Glow Moisturizer SPF 50
Their exfoliating body washes are excellent, but their Dew-Glow Moisturizer SPF 50 is even more. With the consistency of your regular moisturiser, this sunscreen from Naturium is both hydrating and protecting. It is not exactly lightweight, but it also does not feel heavy on the skin. It contains ingredients like niacinamide and squalane, and does not leave a white cast. Instead, it leaves my skin with a dewy, glowy finish, making it feel plump and hydrated. Like the Black Girl Sunscreen for Kids, I wear this in the mornings when I don’t feel like carrying out my entire skincare routine.
Naturium’s Dew-Glow Moisturizer also plays well with makeup so I like to use this for events I need to be glammed up for before applying primer and getting into my makeup. This sunscreen is perfect for my combination skin as it hydrates the drier parts of my face and balances the oilier sections, like my T-zone.
Price: This sunscreen retails for $22* for 50 ml of product and is available in Nigeria at stores like my skin-plug.com
Bioré UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence
I’m a big fan of hybrid skincare — products that feel neither here nor there, like blush containing hyaluronic acid or serums that moisturise too. It’s probably why I find runny, serum-like sunscreens like La Roche-Posay’s Anthelios and the Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence to be oh-so-good for my skin.
I did not have high expectations when I first tried the Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence, as I had tried their pore strippers in my teenage years, and I was not a fan. But this sunscreen impressed me with its consistency, slip, finish, and price point.
The texture is almost jelly-ish yet very liquid, and it blends into my skin so well. It leaves no white cast, is not greasy, and on top of that, plumps and hydrates my skin. I find that this sunscreen is perfect for layering so if you’re trying to get into the habit of reapplying sunscreen throughout the day, this will work just fine.
Price: This sunscreen currently retails for approx. NGN 9,000* and is available in stores like Perona Beauty Store.
Tower28 SunnyDays Tinted Sunscreen SPF 30
BB creams, CC creams, foundations, concealers, tinted moisturisers — all complexion products that I still get slightly puzzled by. But with tinted sunscreens, I skip all the scepticism and try them with high expectations.
Tower28’s SunnyDays Tinted Sunscreen is a mineral sunscreen that offers light to medium coverage and comes in 14 shades. I have warm undertones in my skin, and shade-matching can be difficult when the product’s specific undertone is not mentioned. However, Tower28 also includes undertones with their shades, making online shade-matching much easier for me. I ordered the sunscreen in the shade 50 Sunset.
The sunscreen is super lightweight, moisturising, and works well as an alternative for foundation when I want to channel the clean girl aesthetic. However, it goes on quite sheer so you can make do with shades far from your actual shade. Nevertheless, I’m in love with this, and everyone needs to try it.
Price: This sunscreen retails for $32* for 30 ml of product.
Skin Science SPF50 Sunscreen Lotion
It is no secret that sunscreen can get quite expensive. And if you’re an ardent user like I am, you’re probably going through at least one tube or jar of sunscreen a month. But expensive does not always mean good; even the cheapest sunscreens can do the job wonderfully. Skin Science’s Sunscreen Lotion for both face and body sits right at the intersection of affordable and practical, and for that, it gets a spot on the list.
The texture with this is similar to the black girl sunscreen for kids: thick and very moisturising, borderline greasy. And while it is a bit too greasy for my face, it feels fantastic as a body sunscreen. It leaves no white cast, and while it is not the most lightweight sunscreen, it does not feel heavy on my skin. So if you have dry skin on your face or body, this is one budget sunscreen we are sure you’ll love.
Price: This sunscreen retails for NGN2,950* for 40 ml of product and NGN5,450 for 100 ml of product. You can find it on the Skin Science website or in stores.
Tocobo Cotton Soft Sun Stick SPF 50+
Applying sunscreen before leaving in the morning might seem like the most challenging part, but the reapplication process really grinds my gears. Finding a bathroom to apply my thickest sunscreen does not work out for me, and the thought of reapplying on my grimy, sweaty skin discourages me even more. Thankfully, stick and spray sunscreens are here to help, and a trusted go-to for this is the Tocobo Cotton Soft Sun Stick SPF 50+.
This stick sunscreen is a broad-spectrum sunscreen with physical and chemical filters, fortified with niacinamide and hyaluronic acid, two ingredients that improve skin texture and hydrate the skin thoroughly. The stick is a light blue colour and has a silicone-like feel on my skin when I apply it, most likely due to the dimethicone in its ingredient list. It leaves no white cast on my skin, has a faint fragrance, and leaves me a finish that’s almost matte but not dry at all. Overall, this is a reapplication favourite, and it always has a spot in the small side pocket of my shoulder bag.
*At the time of publication