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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Neutrogena. It's made with zinc oxide 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.
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.
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.
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.
Suneel Chilukuri, M.D., F.A.A.D., F.A.C.M.S. Director of Cosmetic Surgery, Refresh Dermatology, Houston, Texas