The American Academy of Dermatology recommends that people with all complexions apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF of 30 or higher daily to protect against skin-aging UVA and skin-burning UVB rays.
In the short term, inadequate protection against intense bursts of UV light causes damage to our skin in the form of sunburns and tans—and, yes, a tan is damage. As for long-term damage, scientists have attributed 90 percent of skin cancers and 90 percent of the visible signs of aging (like wrinkles, sunspots, discoloration and saggy skin) to cumulative unprotected exposure to UV light.
Naturally occurring melanin makes dark skin two times as effective as fair skin in protecting against UVB ray penetration, but darker complexions still require the protection provided by sunscreen. Upgrading to a medical-grade sunscreen at your next skin screening will likely win you points with your dermatologist, and, according to Gohara, everyone should consider it. So what makes a medical-grade sunscreen stand out, according to a dermatologist?
If you have dark skin, look for no-residue formulas that blend without leaving white streaks. The blendable factor can be tough to find in a mineral sunscreen made with zinc, but Gohara vouches for facial sunscreen EltaMD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46 for all skin types, including darker tones.
“I have brown skin, and [a good] facial [formula] blends in perfectly. For those that like sheer formulations, I love EltaMD UV Clear,” Gohara says.
For a more active lifestyle, try a physical sunscreen with the active ingredient zinc oxide and a water-resistant formula, such as EltaMD UV Replenish Broad-Spectrum SPF 44 for the face.