Choosing the best sunscreen for your skin tone has always been a sore spot for me. Working as a makeup artist and esthetician in major cities, my clientele ran the gamut from light skin to dark. Often, the sunscreen color was too white, making the skin look chalky or ashy. This challenge forced me to get creative, and today I’d like to share with you some of the ideas that I came up with along the way, plus the newest options I’ve found.
Let’s start with the simplest approach which is finding a makeup with sunscreen that offers a significant array of colors, like Ilia. If they don’t have your exact color, you can mix them together to create your perfect shade. However, the cost for a brand such as this could be prohibitive for some since 1 oz is approximately $48.
The next easy solution is going with a clear sunscreen. I found a few good choices while researching this post. Who knew mineral-based invisible sunscreens were an option? Now you can get sun protection without looking ashen and pasty with zinc oxide that is almost invisible. Zinc oxide is a bright white, naturally occurring mineral that we use as a sunscreen because it reflects both UVA and UVB light. In contrast to the traditional pasty white zinc, invisible zinc oxide is made using nanoparticle technology. A specialized manufacturing technique is used to make the micron-sized zinc particles. These small particles form a porous surface (like a sponge) that reflects less visibly on the skin. This makes it clear compared to traditional zinc, although I occasionally see a whitish residue in the creases around my neck.
Venus Williams came out with her own brand of clear sunscreen with an SPF 30 called EleVen. The brand Badger Balm also recently came out with an invisible SPF 30, as well.
Some people may wonder if zinc nanoparticles are safe: are they small enough to be absorbed into the skin and circulate in the body? Lucky for consumers, this issue has been studied by the FDA, EU, and independent investigators. One study found that less than 0.01% of zinc oxide (ZnO) nanoparticles are absorbed into the skin. In 2013, the EU Scientific Commission on Consumer Safety published an extensive 112 page report on the safety of ZnO nano sunscreens. Their conclusion: there is no evidence to the absorption of ZnO nanoparticles through the skin or mouth. Even if there was an absorption of ZnO nanoparticles, all particles would immediately dissolve into harmless zinc ions.
Tinted sunscreen is a good option when you can find a color to suit you, otherwise it can be frustrating. I steer clear of tinted moisturizers with SPF because I disagree completely with combining the two. For a more in-depth look into the reasons behind my hesitancy, read this previous post.
Makeup with Sunscreen
Mineral powder, also known as dry sunscreen is a viable option for skin protection. Sometimes it gets a bad rap since people think that the powdery substance sticks into the cracks and crevices of the skin, but I haven’t found it to be an issue. If you follow up your mineral makeup routine by misting a toner containing heavy water, aka D2O, the minerals will absorb the liquid and sink into the skin beautifully.
Choosing the Best Sunscreen for Your Skin Tone
If you have the time and energy, you can always try your hand at custom-blending sunscreen. This would mean that you would mix in pigment powders or liquid pigments to change the color of the SPF. I recommend using skin-safe colorants which are used in soap-making and cosmetics. This DIY article can help you understand some of the basics of creating colors. Don’t worry about diluting your sunscreen as the changes won’t significantly alter the formula.
Benefits of Custom-blending
Custom-blending gives you total control over your skin tone. It takes practice, but it can be the difference between ash and no-ash. Or perhaps you were in a kickboxing class and got a bruise, you can customize yellow/violet/mint to assist with the various undertones that appear throughout the healing process. To get started, I always begin with a small amount of SPF in a dish and use a spatula to add in the different tints. You can experiment and write down your recipes. Have a look at the color graphic for inspiration.
Thank you for reading The Freckle blog on choosing the best sunscreen for your skin tone. Please subscribe to stay informed of all things relating to skin care. Also, check out my website and YouTube channel for product news and recommendations.