Meet the invisible shields that won’t leave a white cast behind when protecting your skin from the sun

They say the best sunscreen is the one you look forward to wearing. And for darker skin tones, this means one that looks invisible. Formulas of the past have got a bad rap for leaving a white cast behind, but sun tech has come on in leaps and bounds to provide a wide range of options that leaves skin glowing, rather than grey.

As well as serving up a fabulous finish, they come with extra skincare benefits and are impressively fast-absorbing to make adding that extra step into your routine more of a joy than a chore. Here, we delve deeper into why sunscreen is a staple for any skin tone and provide our edit of tried-and-tested invisible SPFs to offer some valuable add-to-cart inspo.

Does darker skin need sunscreen?

Yes. Although people with dark or black skin burn less easily than lighter skin tones, skin can still burn, which may result in it feeling itchy or tender rather than changing colour. And, while the risk of skin cancer is lower than those with fair skin, it can still happen[1].

What’s more, people with darker skin are more likely to have skin cancer diagnosed late, making it harder to treat successfully[2].

As well as wearing protective clothing and spending time in the shade (particularly between 11am and 3pm), using a sunscreen of at least SPF30 that protects against both UVA and UVB rays is an essential part of a good sun care routine.

What’s the best sunscreen for dark skin tones?

‘When looking at the best sunscreen, trial a few options,’ advises Dr Ifeoma Ejikeme, advanced cosmetic doctor and founder and medical director of the Adonia Medical Clinic. ‘Take your time when trialling some brands as initially there may be a faint white cast that usually settles in one to two minutes.’ If it doesn’t clump and settles after two minutes, you’re onto a winner.

Choosing the right one for your skin type is also key. ‘Hydrating if you have dry skin and mattifying if you have oily or combination skin,’ Dr Ejikeme recommends.

Does sunscreen expire?

Yes. The majority have a PAO (period after opening) symbol on their packaging showing how long they can be used for after opening. This usually ranges from 12 to 18 and 24 months, so make sure to check the label before using the same one you did last year.

From ones with added skincare benefits to formulas that feel light as air, here are some of our favourite invisible sunscreens to help protect skin against sun damage. 

Our pick of the best sunscreens for dark skin from Boots

Best face sunscreen for oily skin

Try: Garnier Ambre Solaire Super UV Anti-Dark Spots and Anti-Pollution Face Fluid SPF50+

• Size: 40ml

• Non-comedogenic

• Fragrance-free

• Cruelty-free

Worried about a greasy film? This lightweight sunscreen will help alleviate those fears. Its fluid-like texture melts into skin without a trace, while ingredients like hydrating hyaluronic acid and nourishing vitamin E leave your complexion feeling soft and looking smooth. Layering has never felt so featherlight and, at £8, been so affordable!

Best face sunscreen for sensitive skin

Try: La Roche-Posay Hyalu B5 Aquagel SPF30

• Size: 50ml

• Non-comedogenic

This refreshing gel leaves skin protected and glowing, thanks to its hydrating yet quick-absorbing formula containing hyaluronic acid and glycerin.

Best face sunscreen for dry skin

Try: Fenty Skin Hydro Vizor Invisible Moisturizer SPF30

• Size: 50ml

• Oil-free

• Non-comedogenic

• Vegan

• Refillable

For style and substance, Fenty Skin is increasingly becoming our go-to. And when it comes to SPF, this buy offers bags of both. Not only is the sleek, lilac-hued bottle refillable, but its pink tint gives skin a subtle blurring effect, while the moisturising formula hydrates without the heaviness.

Best face sunscreen for combination skin

Try: La Roche-Posay Anthelios UVMUNE 400 SPF50+

• Size: 50ml

• Perfume-free

• Water, sweat and sand resistant

The Anthelios range from La Roche-Posay is a firm favourite of beauty editors and so any new additions to the line-up had a lot to live up to. Enter this launch that’s not only impressively hard-wearing but ultra light, non-sticky and non-greasy, making it feel imperceptible on the skin. We think we may have found a new must-have.

Best sunscreen for face & body

Try: Shiseido Expert Sun Protector Face & Body Lotion SPF50+

• Size: 150ml

If you’re looking to save space in your suitcase, put this on your holiday-packing checklist as it can be used on your face and body. At 150ml, it offers more product for your pennies than a traditional face sunscreen, and it smells divine, adding a touch of luxury to your sun care routine. No wonder it’s one of Dr Ejikeme’s favourites.

Best fast-absorbing sunscreen for body

Try: Vichy Ideal Soleil Hydrating Solar Protective Water SPF30

• Size: 200ml

If you hate the feeling of anything too heavy, you’ll love this ingenious ‘solar water’. Cooling, refreshing and, most importantly, protective thanks to an SPF of 30, it absorbs without a trace. What’s more, it contains hyaluronic acid and the brand’s own soothing thermal water for long-lasting hydration.

Best-scented sunscreen for body

Try: Clarins Sun Care Water Mist SPF50+

• Size: 150ml

If you’re looking for a spritz of summer, try this. Not only does it cocoon skin with the most transportative of scents, its glow-boosting formula leaves limbs looking gorgeous. One spray will have you feeling like you’re on a sun lounger, come staycation or vacation this year.