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Beauty for dark skin: a guide to wearing suncream

It is true that those of us with dark skin don’t burn as easily as our pale-skinned counterparts, due to increased amounts of protective melanin in our skin. But it is also true that we can be a little breezy with our approach to sun protection. When I say breezy, I mean borderline neglectful (I speak from past experience).

The big shocker is that our skin isn’t nearly as sun-resistant as we think it is. Darker black skin has a natural SPF of around 13.4, paler white skin is about 3.4 and everyone else fits along that spectrum. Whilst there is a definite difference between the highest and lowest levels, no one’s natural SPF is enough to keep the ills of sun damage (that’s skin cancer, wrinkles and hyperpigmentation, to name but a few) at bay. It does require extra effort on our part, especially when faced with serious summer sun, in the form of SPF 30 or above with UVA and UVB protection.

So what puts us off wearing suncream, especially on the face? For starters, so many SPFs contain hefty amounts of zinc or titanium oxide that make the formulations bright white, giving many dark skins a curious blue/grey hue (Smurf, zombie, clown mask much?). They are also so darn oily, they seldom stay on. Thankfully, some are genuinely ace and work brilliantly with our skin. Here are my top three:

Sunscreen for dark skin. Photograph: Anita Bhagwandas

La Roche Posay Anthelios Face Extra Light Fluid 50+, £16.50, boots.com

Ask any dermatologist and chances are they will recommend this brand for its vigorous testing and clinical studies. Whilst this SPF is a tad on the oily side (not hugely though, don’t panic), it gives you high protection against UVA and UVB.

Ultra Sun Face 50+, Anti-ageing Ultra Sensative Facial Sun Cream, £24, johnlewis.com
On a recent trip to Australia, this was my first choice. It is water-resistant, long-wearing (about eight hours) and contains a host of anti-ageing benefits. Ideal for extreme sun exposure and sensitive skin.

Sensai Silky Bronze Cellular Protective Stick SPF30, £40, harrods.com
It is a little bit on the pricey side, but this stick is probably the most invisible SPF I’ve ever seen. The velvety formula uses silk extract to promote the formation of skin-plumping hyaluronic acid, and it contains polymers to blur pores and fill fine lines.

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