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words and photos by Sandra Wanjiku of @glowwiths and Terembe Cherono @terembecherono

You’ve probably heard that a skin routine without sunscreen is a useless routine. Why is this true? Sunscreen protects our skin from UV rays that cause damage. Yes, even highly melanated people need sun protection because UV rays can cause burning, skin cancer and photoaging, making it very possible for your black to well…crack. But all this is avoidable by wearing sunscreen daily. That means even when you’re indoors on a cloudy day. 

Wearing the right amount of sunscreen is just as important as wearing sunscreen in the first place. The daily recommended amount is approximately ¼ teaspoon for your face or ½ teaspoon for your face and neck. You can measure this using a spoon, the two-finger rule or just eyeballing it. You also want to ensure that you are wearing sunscreen that is rated SPF30 at the least – anything less will not provide you with adequate sun protection.

A few key terms…

  • Broad Spectrum – sun protection against both UVA and UVB rays.
  • Chemical Sunscreen – protects your skin from the sun by absorbing UV rays into the skin, converting them into heat and releasing them from the body. They act like a sponge and are typically lightweight in consistency
  • Mineral (or physical) Sunscreen – protects your skin from the sun by blocking rays from reaching your skin. They act like a shield and are usually thicker in consistency.
  • PA rating – this is a rating system developed in Japan that shows how much UVA protection is offered by a product. PA+ means the product provides some UVA protection while PA++++ means the product provides extremely high UVA protection.
  • SPF – sun protection factor. The SPF value indicates the strength of protection provided by the sunscreen against UVB rays.
  • UVA – ultraviolet A usually have longer wavelengths but lower energy compared to other rays so are known to penetrate cells deeper in the skin.
  • UVB – ultraviolet B usually have shorter wavelengths with higher energy levels and thus cause damage to the outer layers of the skin. 

Read this for more useful terms.

Now that we’ve covered some of the basics, let’s get into some recommendations of sunscreens that won’t leave you with a white cast. Long gone are the days where we have to look grey after applying sunscreens. The rise in popularity of chemical sunscreens which use newer UV filters means that sun protection doesn’t come at the expense of a white cast. When you see ingredients such as oxybenzone, avobenzone or homosalate (to name a few) it’s highly likely it’s a chemical sunscreen. If you see titanium dioxide or zinc oxide in the ingredients list, it’s a mineral sunscreen and more likely to leave you with a white cast. If you see both types of ingredients in a sunscreen it’s a hybrid sunscreen, which typically don’t leave you with a white cast. 

Here are some sunscreens that we’ve tried and approved as friendly for black skin. There’s something for each skin type too! 

Sandra’s Picks

Black Girl Sunscreen SPF 30

This is a broad spectrum sunscreen that protects you from UVA and UVB rays. It contains Aloe Vera, Sunflower Oil, Jojoba Oil and Carrot Seed Oil. This is an ideal sunscreen for dry and normal skin because of its heavy moisturising capabilities.

La Roche Posay Anthelios Invisible Fluid SPF 50+

This is a broad spectrum sunscreen that is more watery and lighter in consistency, making it most ideal for combination to oily skin. It is sweatproof, waterproof and sandproof, making it very suitable for the beach or hot humid areas. This sunscreen is also specifically formulated for sensitive skin and is non greasy and non sticky. 

Cosrx Aloe Soothing Sun Cream SPF 50+

This is a hybrid sunscreen that uses both mineral and chemical UV filters to provide broad spectrum protection. It also has a high PA rating which means that it’s a sunscreen that provides the best protection against UVA rays. It is very moisturising and hydrating without feeling greasy and doesn’t leave a white cast. Great option for dry, normal and combination skin types. 

Garnier Ambre Solaire Super UV Anti Dark Spots & Anti Pollution Sunscreen Face Fluid SPF 50+

This sunscreen is enriched with hyaluronic acid and vitamin E and provides broad spectrum protection. It is very lightweight and absorbs quickly into the skin without leaving a greasy finish. It is particularly suitable for anyone with sensitive skin but can work for all skin types.

A’pieu Pure Block Daily Sun Cream SPF 45

This is a sunscreen that contains aloe, red fruits and flower extracts. It has a citrus scent and thus might not be ideal for those with sensitive skin. It absorbs very quickly into the skin and leaves a nice semi matte finish. It’s not drying and ideal for normal, combination and oily skin types. 

Nivea Super Sun Protect Water Gel SPF50

A lightweight sunscreen with a gel consistency making it very ideal for combination to oily skin. It also contains hyaluronic acid to boost hydration in the skin. This sunscreen can be used on both face and body and contains no fragrance. It is ideal for sensitive skin.

You can pick up Sandra’s recommendations from @dreamskinhaven or @beautysquareke

Terembe’s Picks

Bellalussi Paw Paw Sunscreen SPF 50 PA+++ 

A hybrid sunscreen with both mineral and chemical components and a fruity scent. It’s packed with niacinamide, sunflower extract, shea butter, paw paw extract and snail mucin. It blends into dark skin really well and does not leave a white cast! This is suitable for all skin types.

Bioré UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence SPF 50+ PA++++

This is a watery and light chemical sunscreen from Japanese beauty brand, Kao. It also contains hydrating glycerin and hyaluronic acid which explains why my skin feels dewy after using it. Although it feels a little sticky and can sting if it gets too close to your eyes, it’s still a fantastic sunscreen.

You can pick up Terembe’s recommendations from either Bandari Beauty or KumKangKind (who have a discount running with the code TEREMBESKIN on their site, valid for orders above Kshs 1,999).

Join the conversation


  1. A very informative and relevant article! Thank you Terembe!

    • Thank you!

  2. […] Despite the grey clouds, the sun’s rays are ubiquitous. Maintain your everyday use of sunscreen because the sun is always working. If you’re looking for recommendations for sunscreens, check out this post. […]

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