Hyperpigmentation is a common skin condition that causes dark patches on the skin. It can be caused by sun exposure, acne, aging, and other factors.
Hyperpigmentation is an umbrella term for any skin that appears darker than normal. It can occur in small patches, larger patches, and all across the body in various sections.
The good news? Hyperpigmentation usually isn’t harmful, but it’s still important to make a visit with your doctor if you’re experiencing new hyperpigmentation, since it can be a symptom of an underlying health issue.
Hyperpigmentation can be a major cause of low self-esteem, and it may affect the way that people feel about their appearance.
Hyperpigmentation is often caused by sun damage uncontrolled. That’s why those with hyperpigmentation often use sunscreen as a preventative measure, as sunscreen can help to prevent new outbreaks and reduces existing patches from worsening.
In this article, we’ll delve into how sunscreen can be used to help with hyperpigmentation, and detail some of the best sunscreens for hyperpigmentation!
How Can Sunscreen Help With Hyperpigmentation?
There are several different common types of hyperpigmentation, including melasma, sunspots, and acne, among others.
Some of the biggest risk factors for general hyperpigmentation include sun exposure and inflammation, as both these can boost melanin production in the body. Certain medications and drugs can also increase your risk for developing hyperpigmentation.
In fact, Heathline says:
Home care also includes using sunscreen. Sunscreen is the single most important factor in improving most causes of hyperpigmentation
In many cases, regular and ongoing sun protection will protect the skin and let it recover, leading the skin areas affected by hyperpigmentation to lighten and return to normal. Ongoing sunscreen can also will help prevent future hyperpigmentation from occurring.
Sunscreen isn’t the only cure for hyperpigmentation, as treatments such as chemical peels and laser resurfacing can be used to help fade existing hyperpigmentation dark spots.
However, many of these treatments aren’t ideal for home use. They’re usually done under a doctor’s supervision and may lead to temporary or long-term changes in the skin’s appearance.
How to Choose a Sunscreen for Hyperpigmentation
If you are looking for the best sunscreen for hyperpigmentation, here are some recommendations in regards to what to look for:
- Look for a sunscreen that has SPF 30 or higher. We always recommend opting for a sunscreen that’s SPF30 or higher across the board, but this is doubly important for those with hyperpigmentation!
- Choose a sunscreen that is labeled “broad spectrum” or “UVA/UVB protection.” This will ensure you’re selecting a sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB rays. All the sunscreens we’ve detailed below are broad spectrum!
- Avoid chemical sunscreens that contain oxybenzone and PABA. While some folks can tolerate chemical sunscreens with harsher ingredients like oxybenzone, most people struggling with hyperpigmentation have sensitive skin, so we suggest going with gentler ingredients and mineral-based sunscreens when possible.
- Choose a physical sunscreen, ideally one with zinc oxide as the main active ingredient. Physical sunscreens sit on top of the skin and provide a physical barrier against UV rays, as opposed to chemical sunscreens which absorb into the skin and can at times result in increased irritation.
Best Sunscreens for Hyperpigmentation
1. Neutrogena Sheer Zinc Face Mineral Sunscreen SPF 50
Neutrogena’s sunscreen line is one of the most trusted brands in the industry. Neutrogena’s Sheer Zinc Face Mineral Sunscreen is not only non-comedogenic (aka non pore clogging) and non-greasy, it also has zero fragrances or dyes, which makes this sunscreen great for people with sensitive skin that easily reacts to some products.
This sunscreen uses naturally-sourced 100% zinc oxide and boasts a 50 SPF rating along with broad spectrum protection, making it a great budget-friendly sunscreen for hyperpigmentation that’s also widely available at most drugstores.
2. CeraVe 100% Mineral Sunscreen SPF 50
CeraVe Mineral Sunscreen is another popular mineral sunscreen for face use that won’t break the bank and is also usually available at most drugstores.
Unlike many sunscreens on the market, this product is 100% mineral-based and includes a number of important ingredients for people with hyperpigmentation, such as ceramides to retain moisture.
Also unlike some other sunscreens, this product does not contain oxybenzone or octinoxate – making it compliant for use in Hawaii if that’s where you’re headed. It’s oil-free, fragrance-free, and paraben- free too!
This ultra lightweight formula fits the bill perfectly for anyone who wants a light, sheer sunscreen that doesn’t negotiate on protection, as it offers broad spectrum protection with a UPF 50 rating. It’s even been allergy-tested and is noncomedogenic, so it’s ideal for anyone with sensitive skin.
If you want the benefit of a tinted formula, CeraVe offers a tinted version too (I’m personally a big fan of the tinted version).
3. EltaMD UV Clear Tinted Face Sunscreen Broad-Spectrum SPF 46
This sunscreen is a lifesaver for those with hyperpigmentation! While other sunscreens can you leave you feeling greasy, the EltaMD UV Clear Face Tinted Sunscreen from EltaMD goes on smoothly and is loved for its lightweight, sheer application.
In fact it feels more like a second skin than traditional sunscreen – people could actually forget they’re wearing any sunscreen at all!
This unscented sunscreen boasts SPF 46 and broad spectrum sun protection from UVA/UVB rays. It relies in zinc oxide as the main active ingredient, but also contains octinoxate as well, so it may not be best for those who want a purely 100% mineral sunscreen. Still, considering how popular this sunscreen is with acne-prone skin and other sensitive skin folks, there’s little risk of irritation with this formula.
This formula also includes a subtle tint, making it perfect for covering up hyperpigmentation marks while your skin protects itself and heals.
4. THRIVE Natural Moisturizing Mineral Face Sunscreen
The Thrive Natural Mineral Sunscreen is a favorite sunscreen of those with hyperpigmentation as it not only helps fade some sunspots through its tinted formula, but it also still moisturizes well enough to keep your skin hydrated.
With 20% zinc oxide formula and a host of natural ingredients like arabica coffee oil and wakame seaweed, it’s no wonder this formula is so popular.
It doesn’t leave a white cast if applied correctly, just blends in nicely without too high an SPF number. Many users note that their skin feels great after use and it’s easier to put makeup on top because it preps your face while protecting you from damaging UV rays!
5. La Roche-Posay Anthelios Tinted Mineral SPF 50
La Roche-Posay Anthelios Tinted Mineral Sunscreen is an oil-free, matte finish sunscreen that works great for people with hyperpigmentation.
La Roche-Posay specialized in allergy tested and dermatologist tested sunscreens in order to offer gentle, non-irritating formulas for the face.
This formula offers an SPF 50 rating, and it’s also made without fragrance and irritating chemicals so it won’t cause any reactions on your sensitive skin.
The product is designed to not leave a white cast, and it’s also very lightweight. It has added antioxidants to protect your skin, along with silica to reduce shine, and of course a great subtle tint coverage to smooth out your face. Since it’s a tinted formula, it’s an ideal sunscreen for those with vitiligo or anyone struggling to cover up any other kind of skin imperfections.
While it is a chemical sunscreen, it doesn’t contain oxybenzone or octinoxate, eliminating the most problematic and skin-irritating chemical ingredients.
6. Australian Gold Botanical Sunscreen Tinted Face BB
With a light, matte finish and subtle tint color, this sunscreen will help to cover up your marks without you having to use heavy foundation or risk any breakouts caused by ingredients in foundation makeup.
The mineral SPF 50 formula provides great sun-blocking abilities, along with UVA and UVB broad spectrum protection. This sunscreen cream is perfect because it’s not greasy, relies on mineral ingredients zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, and does not contain anything toxic like oxybenzone which can cause undesired side effects such as skin irritation.
This formula even includes kakadu plum, vitamin C, eucalyptus, and red algae for a boost of hydration and antioxidants that minimize free radicals. It’s hypoallergenic and dermatologist-tested too!
With its subtle tint and lovely matte finish, many fans attest that it functions much like a BB cream, providing great coverage to hide hyperpigmentation marks (as well as fine lines) while protecting against the sun’s harmful UV rays.
7. Coppertone Pure Simple Baby SPF 50 Sunscreen Lotion
Coppertone Pure & Simple Baby SPF 50 is a dermatologically-tested sun lotion that’s formulated to protect a baby’s delicate skin from the sun, which means it should be gentle enough with adults who have sensitive skin too! It contains naturally sourced zinc oxide along with natural botanicals like tea leaf, sea kelp, and lotus extracts.
This product offers a 50 SPF protection, with a hypoallergenic formula that is gentle on delicate skin. It contains no fragrance or alcohol that might irritate sensitive skin, with great broad spectrum sun protection.
8. Missha All Around Safe Block Essence Sun SPF45/PA+++
Missha All Around Safe Block Essence Sun SPF45/PA+++ is a great Korean sunscreen for those with hyperpigmentation. This sunscreen is actually considered a “sun milk” due to the milky soft texture of the product. Sun milk can be incredibly hydrating, and this formula features a host of natural plant extracts, which provide hydration to the skin while offering a brightening effect too for a clearer complextion.
This 45 SPF sunscreen prides itself on its “double layer polymer system” to provide double UV blocking.
While the ingredient list does seem to contain some chemicals, fans rave about how soft this sunscreen goes on, while noting that it does not leave any kind of white cast.
However, there does seem to be some fragrances, so if your skin is sensitive to fragrances, you may want to stay away.
Skin care is a very personal matter, and for those with hyperpigmentation, finding a reliable sunscreen that reduces hyperpigmentation flare-ups while providing coverage can be especially challenging. This article has outlined some of the most popular sunscreens for hyperpigmentation – if we missed any of your favorites let us know in the comments!
FAQ About Sunscreen for Hyperpigmentation
What is the difference between a tinted and untinted sunscreen?
Tinted sunscreens have a tint in them that can hide dark spots or blemishes, making them an especially good pick for those with hyperpigmentation. Untinted sunscreens are a good option for people who want to protect their skin from the sun without camouflage.
What is the best sunscreen for hyperpigmentation?
The best sunscreen for hyperpigmentation will use physical sun blockers like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide to protect against the sun’s UV rays. It should also be gentle on sensitive skin and won’t cause more dark spots.
Can sunscreen lighten hyperpigmentation?
No, sunscreen cannot lighten hyperpigmentation. However, it can protect the skin while it recovers and prevent future outbreaks of hyperpigmentation. Sun exposure causes an increase of melanin in the skin. When this pigment is produced irregularly, you get hyperpigmentation. Wearing sunscreen daily will protect your skin and prevent irregular melanin production.
Is SPF 50 good for hyperpigmentation?
Yes, SPF 50 provides great protection for hyperpigmentation. While the increased number will block more rays, it’s not necessary to purchase a higher option, as SPF 50 blocks 98% of UV rays. SPF 100 only provides slightly more at 99% of UV rays, and SPF 30 blocks 97%. This is why any sunscreen between SPF 30 – 100 is considered solid sun protection. Regardless of which SPF your sunscreen is, the most important factor is not the SPF but rather ensuring that you reapply the sunscreen regularly.