The Best Sunscreens For Hyperpigmentation
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According to board-certified dermatologist Dr. Suneel Chilukuri, the best sunscreens for hyperpigmentation are broad-spectrum formulas with an SPF of 30 or higher. Dr. Chilukuri, who spoke to Bustle for this article, prefers tinted mineral sunscreens for patients who have an uneven skin tone. “A mineral sunscreen contains a physical sunblock such as zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide. By adding a tint, more of the UV light is dispersed before it can affect the skin,” he explains. However, he says the most important thing is to find a sunscreen you like and will use, so it’s fine to choose a tinted or untinted mineral, chemical, or hybrid sunscreen so long as you use it year round — even, he stresses, when you’re spending time indoors, on cloudy days, and during the winter.
To further target unwanted hyperpigmentation, you can use other products — such as creams and serums — that contain ingredients like vitamin C, retinol, or bakuchiol, but according to Dr. Chilukuri, “Decreasing the skin’s exposure to UV radiation that subsequently increases melanocyte activity with [the] daily use of broad-spectrum sunscreens is the most important step in helping to minimize the appearance of new dark spots or the worsening of existing discoloration.” In other words? In the case of hyperpigmentation, prevention is the best cure.
Keep scrolling to shop the best sunscreens for hyperpigmentation, including a favorite of Dr. Chilukuri’s.
Shop The Best Sunscreens For Hyperpigmentation
In a hurry? Here are the best sunscreens for hyperpigmentation:
- Best Tinted Sunscreen For Hyperpigmentation: PCA Skin Sheer Tint Broad Spectrum SPF 45
- Best Tinted Sunscreen For Hyperpigmentation Under $20: Australian Gold Botanical SPF 50 Tinted Face Mineral Lotion
- Best Non-Tinted Sunscreen For Hyperpigmentation: ISDIN Eryfotona Actinica Mineral Sunscreen 50+
- Best Sunscreen Stick For Hyperpigmentation: CETAPHIL Sheer Mineral Sunscreen Stick
- Best Moisturizer With Sunscreen For Hyperpigmentation: Bolden Brightening Moisturizer SPF 30
- Best Sport Sunscreen: EltaMD’s UV Sport Sunscreen Lotion
1. Doctor’s Pick: Best Tinted Sunscreen For Hyperpigmentation
“[PCA Skin] Sheer Tint Broad Spectrum SPF 45 is all-mineral with a universal tint that many of my patients like,” says Dr. Chilukuri. It contains titanium dioxide and zinc oxide for sun protection, as well as antioxidants to prevent further skin damage from things like free radicals. Additionally, the formula is oil-free and water-resistant up to 80 minutes, and because of the added tint, it doesn’t leave behind a white cast like many mineral sunscreens do. This is also a favorite of YouTube-famous derm Dr. Dray, who even suggests this sunscreen for people with dark skin tones who are looking for a formula to treat and prevent hyperpigmentation.
If you’re looking for a non-tinted option, Dr. Chilukuri also likes PCA SKIN’s Hydrator Plus Broad Spectrum SPF 30, which is a hybrid mineral/chemical sunscreen with added hydrating elements.
Sunscreen Type Mineral SPF Level 45 Size 1.7 oz. Oil-Free? Yes Water-Resistant? Yes
Relevant review: “So this is a little expensive when it comes to sunscreen, but let me tell you it’s worth it. I wear this everyday (a little goes a long way so it lasts awhile) and I don’t even need to wear foundation anymore. You can layer it on if need be but it makes my skin look so much more even. It goes on really smoothly and evenly and it looks great and covers blemishes [as well]. It’s the only sunscreen I see myself using for a long time. You’ll thank yourself later for buying it [...]”
2. Best Tinted Sunscreen For Hyperpigmentation Under $20
For a much more affordable option, consider Australian Gold’s best-selling Botanical SPF 50 Tinted Face Mineral Lotion. It comes in three shades — which is rare for a tinted sunscreen — so it’s easier to find a match for your skin tone (choose from ‘Fair-Light,’ ‘Medium-Tan,’ or ‘Rich-Deep). Made with the mineral sun-blockers titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, and nourishing botanicals like kakadu plum and red algae, this sunscreen is oil- and fragrance-free, vegan, cruelty-free, and water-resistant for up to 80 minutes. Best of all, though? It costs less than $15 on Amazon.
Sunscreen Type Mineral SPF Level 50 Size 3 oz. Oil-Free? Yes Water-Resistant? Yes
Relevant review: “I’ve been looking for a good facial sunscreen for decades and I’ve finally found one! Goes on smooth, never oily, doesn’t make me break out and the tint provides light coverage of sun damage from the past. Highly recommended!”
3. Best Non-Tinted Sunscreen For Hyperpigmentation
You’ll often see the zinc oxide-based ISDIN Eryfotona Actinica Mineral Sunscreen 50+ on dermatologist-favorite lists, because the high-quality sunscreen is designed not only to effectively block the sun’s rays with a broad-spectrum SPF of 50, but also, the scientifically advanced formula contains photolyase enzymes to repair existing damage from the sun, along with skin-healing and strengthening vitamin E. Note that it does go on white, as is typical for physical (aka mineral) sunscreens, but if you use some elbow grease, it should blend into your skin well. Water-resistant up to 40 minutes, this sunscreen leaves your face feeling smooth, not slick.
Sunscreen Type Mineral SPF Level 50 Size 3.4 oz. Oil-Free? Yes Water-Resistant? Yes
Relevant review: “I love sunscreen and have tried many. This product is light, not too oily yet not drying. It has a nice texture to it. My very sensitive skin does not react to it and my skin is more even toned.”
4. Best Sunscreen Stick For Hyperpigmentation
For quick, hands-free touchups, you can’t beat the convenience of a small sunscreen stick, like this one from Cetaphil. It's made with zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, and vitamin E, goes on dry (but not chalky), and is actually easy to apply on top of makeup and other skin care products without feeling too heavy. Some other highlights: It’s water resistant up to 80 minutes and fragrance-free, and features a simple formula that shouldn’t cause irritation or breakouts.
Sunscreen Type Mineral SPF Level 50 Size 0.5 oz. Oil-Free? Yes Water-Resistant? Yes
Relevant review: “I am religious about sun protection and like to carry stick SPF around in case I'm outside for longer than an hour, including after runs/races. This is an all-physical sunscreen, which means it's effective immediately (as opposed to having to wait 20 minutes for it to kick in). But unlike most physical sunscreens, it's pretty sheer and easily spreadable. And so far, no breakouts on my sensitive skin. New favorite!”
5. Best Moisturizer With Sunscreen For Hyperpigmentation
Bolden’s Brightening Moisturizer with SPF 30 contains a chemical, not mineral sunscreen, which many people tend to prefer (especially since chemical sunscreens don’t leave behind a white cast). This moisturizer/sunscreen hybrid has a rich, creamy feel and offers plenty of hydration (thanks to the safflower oil, shea butter, and squalane in the formula), but it doesn’t feel greasy at all. It will, however, leave you with a nice, glow-y finish, and because of the effectiveness of vitamin C — a key ingredient in this product — when it comes to fading hyperpigmentation, it works behind the scenes to help promote a more even-looking skin tone.
Sunscreen Type Chemical SPF Level 30 Size 2 oz. Oil-Free? Yes Water-Resistant? Not Specified
Relevant review: “I have been using this for one month, and to my surprise my hyperpigmentation spots have faded! I have been receiving compliments on how good my skin looks. I will definitely reorder.”
6. Best Sport Sunscreen
EltaMD’s UV Sport Sunscreen Lotion is a dream sunscreen for athletes or people with active lifestyles. It's water- and sweat-resistant for up to 80 minutes, offers broad-spectrum SPF 50 protection, can be used on your face and body, and is designed to stay put through sweating and swimming without burning your eyes. Fans report that this mineral/chemical sunscreen hybrid carries them through strenuous activities without dripping or running, though note that it will have to be blended in well to avoid a white cast.
Sunscreen Type Mineral/Chemical SPF Level 50 Size 3 oz. Oil-Free? Yes Water-Resistant? Yes
Relevant review: “Works great and worth the money. No white cast. Doesn’t feel gross on the skin. Doesn’t make my acne prone skin break out. Noticeable difference when I use it, especially the effect it has on evening out my skin tone and helping with redness (be sure you’re using the correct amount recommended for sunscreen). This product is a staple in my skincare routine.”
7. Best Makeup/Sunscreen Hybrid
Tinted sunscreens just don’t offer the same shade ranges as makeup products, so if you’re looking for both your ideal skin tint and sunscreen, try the ILIA Super Serum Skin Tint SPF 40. This mineral makeup is made with zinc oxide for sun protection, as well as hyaluronic acid, squalane, and niacinamide to soothe and nourish your skin. Since it’s free of silicones, oils, and fragrance, it’s a great option if you’re prone to clogged pores or skin sensitivities; you can use it alone or mix a few drops into your favorite sunscreen or moisturizer. Choose from 28 shades.
Sunscreen Type Mineral SPF Level 40 Size 1 oz. Oil-Free? Yes Water-Resistant? Not Specified
Relevant review: “LOVE this product. I am the type of person who hates wearing makeup but needs a light coverage that makes my skin glow. This did that. Very light yet with the right application covers just enough to even out skin tone and give you a nice natural glow. Also, feels very light as if I am wearing nothing. I love the natural look.”
Suneel Chilukuri, M.D., F.A.A.D., F.A.C.M.S. Director of Cosmetic Surgery, Refresh Dermatology, Houston, Texas
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