8 Clean Sunscreens That Won't Leave a White Cast Behind

Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen SPF 40 goes on totally clear on all skin tones.

We independently research, test, review, and recommend the best products—learn more about our process. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.

Two top clean sunscreens
Sephora/ InStyle

Let's get one thing straight: protecting your skin from the sun's harmful UV rays is essential — no matter your skin tone, the season, or your location in the world. But many physical sunscreens leave a white cast behind, so those with deeper skin tones often feel as though they're starved for options. Thankfully, SPF formulas have come a long way in recent years, and now there's a wide range of zinc-based formulas that offer sheer coverage and a load of other skincare benefits.

With a ton of formulas out there, where does one even begin? To help you pick the one for you, we researched the best clean sunscreens that don't leave a white cast on your skin. To make sure we're recommending the best of the best, we evaluated each product's formula, application, and, most importantly, white cast — or lack thereof. The one that stood out to us is the Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen SPF 40 because of its outstanding ability to appear completely clear on all skin tones.

Keep reading to find the best clean sunscreens.

Our Picks

Best Overall: Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen SPF 40

Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen SPF 40
Courtesy

What We Love: It's undetectable on all skin tones, from fair to deep.

What We Don't Love: The formula's silicone consistency can pill underneath makeup.

Supergoop!'s sunscreens have gained a cult-following over the last few years simply because they deliver when it comes to sun protection. As the name suggests, this sunscreen goes on completely clear and feels like nothing you've ever tried before. The invisible veil of coverage protects the skin from the sun's harmful rays with broad-spectrum SPF 40 and even acts as a shield against blue light emitted by electronic devices.

Keep in mind that because of the product's gel-like consistency, it can pill when you apply makeup products on top. To keep sunscreen from pilling, wait five minutes after applying your skincare before layering on SPF. Then, give the sunscreen a few minutes to set before putting on concealer and foundation.

Price at time of publish: $36 for 1.7 oz bottle

SPF Protection: SPF 40 | Reef-Safe: Yes | Size: 1.7 fl. oz.

Best for Sensitive Skin: Biossance Squalane + Zinc Sheer Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30

Biossance Squalane + Zinc Sheer Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30
Courtesy

What We Love: The formula has a hydrating and calming effect thanks to squalane and water lily.

What We Don't Love: Some reviewers with oily skin found it makes their skin look shiny.

If you've ever gotten red and splotchy after a few minutes in the sun, you may want to check out this pick. While not enough time to burn, some skin types are more sensitive to any sun exposure. A physical sunscreen provides a layer of protection between you and the UV rays. This clean, squalane-enriched sunscreen effortlessly melts into the skin for white cast-free sun protection and a heaping dose of hydration. Plus, water lily, a plant derivative known for its calming properties, keeps sun-stressed skin in check so you can spend time outside sans irritation.

One thing to note: because the sunscreen contains ultra-moisturizing ingredients and has a dewy finish, some reviewers with oily skin found that their complexions looked shiny. However, you can keep grease at bay by enlisting the help of a pressed powder and applying it over your shiny areas.

Price at time of publish: $34 for 1.7 oz bottle

SPF Protection: SPF 30 | Reef-Safe: Yes | Size: 1.7 fl. oz.

Best for Deep Skin Tones: Black Girl Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 30

Black Girl Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 30
Courtesy

What We Love: It was designed to prevent a white cast on Black and brown skin.

What We Don't Love: We wish the name was more gender inclusive.

This sunscreen was made with Black skin in mind — but that doesn't mean it's not a great option for everyone else, too. The clean formula, which is infused with moisturizing jojoba and avocado, leaves skin soft, smooth and protected. The best part is that it doesn't leave a white film behind or cause purple discoloration on deeper skin tones like most traditional mineral sunscreens do.

We love everything about this sunscreen, especially the fact that it can (and should!) be used by everyone. With that said, we wish the name was a little less gendered so that it doesn't deter folks of other genders who may think it's only for women.

Price at time of publish: $15.99

SPF Protection: SPF 30 | Reef-Safe: Yes | Size: 3 fl. oz.

Best Serum: EleVen by Venus Williams Unrivaled Sun Serum SPF 35

EleVen by Venus Williams Unrivaled Sun Serum SPF 35
Courtesy

What We Love: This luxurious sunscreen oil protects your skin and keeps it hydrated at the same time.

What We Don't Love: There is a slight citrusy aroma that can be irritating for some.

Venus Williams definitely understood the assignment when she created EleVen sunscreen. The formula contains broad spectrum SPF 35 plus a cocktail of hydrating and calming ingredients like coconut fruit extract, allantoin, and shea butter. Whether you wear it over moisturizer or under makeup, it absorbs quickly and leaves skin feeling velvety smooth.

There's certainly a lot to love about this SPF, but if we could change anything, it would be the fragrance. There's nothing more refreshing than a citrus-y scent for summer, but for some, fragrance can irritate the skin. Although it's not too overpowering, you may want to perform a patch test prior to applying if you think you might be reactive to the fragrance. According to Corey L. Hartman M.D., a board-certified dermatologist based in Birmingham, Alabama, it's best to apply a small amount of sunscreen to the underside of your wrist. "The skin is thin in that area and also sensitive, so it reacts similarly to skin on the face," he says. If you have no reaction, the sunscreen should be fine to use on other parts of the body without issue.

Price at time of publish: $50

SPF Protection: SPF 35 | Reef-Safe: Yes | Size: 1 fl. oz.

Best Oil: Mele No Shade Sunscreen Oil SPF 30

Mele No Shade Sunscreen Oil SPF 30
Courtesy

What We Love: It was created by dermatologists of color for people of color.

What We Don't Love: It can be too greasy for those with oily or acne-prone skin.

Do you prefer using an oil over a traditional creamy moisturizer? If so, this Mele sunscreen oil might be perfect for you. Created for people of color by dermatologists of color, you can ensure it will leave nothing behind — except a dewy finish. To apply, massage the SPF 30-infused oil into your skin as the last step in your morning skincare routine. Give it a few seconds to seep into your skin and watch as it gives you an immediate glow.

Because it's an oil, it can feel a bit greasy for those with already oily skin. It's worth noting that some reviews stated that by using a powder-based foundation on top, they were able to eliminate some of the excess shine.

Price at time of publish: $19.99

SPF Protection: SPF 30 | Reef-Safe: No | Size: 1 fl. oz.

Best Stick: Neutrogena Sheer Zinc Sunscreen Stick SPF 50+ with Vitamin E

Neutrogena Sheer Zinc Sunscreen Stick SPF 50+ with Vitamin E
Courtesy

What We Love: It's easy to toss in your beach bag for quick re-application on the go.

What We Don't Love: This product, like most sunscreen sticks, doesn't always spread evenly.

Neutrogena is one of the most trusted brands when it comes to skin, and sun care, so it's no surprise that this one is a winner. A great on-the-go-option, this spill-proof sunscreen goes on clear and is water-resistant for up to 80 minutes. The formula also offers antioxidant vitamin E to nourish skin and protect it from environmental damage while you're outside. Oh, and because of its compact size, it fits in just about every beach bag, which comes in handy when it's time to reapply.

Speaking of application, the nature of sunscreen sticks can sometimes mean less coverage, especially when it comes to getting those hard-to-reach spots around the nose. Plus, the solid consistency of the sunscreen itself can be hard to spread evenly on larger areas like the forehead or cheeks. To ensure even application, try smoothing the stick over your face slowly, section by section, in a mirror.

Price at time of publish: $17.49

SPF Protection: SPF 50 | Reef-Safe: Yes | Size: 1.5 oz.

Best Sport: Juice Beauty SPF 30 Sport Sunscreen

Juice Beauty SPF 30 Sport Sunscreen
Courtesy

What We Love: In addition to SPF 30, the formula contains organic ingredients like aloe leaf juice, jojoba oil and coconut oil.

What We Don't Love: The sunscreen is thick and requires a bit of rubbing in.

When it comes to sport sunscreens, you'll want to look for something that stays put, no matter how much you sweat. This sunscreen from Juice Beauty contains zinc oxide and a nourishing blend of organic aloe leaf juice, jojoba oil, and coconut oil that keeps skin protected and hydrated for up to 80 minutes, whether you're on the court, field or in the pool. The bottle's bright lime green color makes it easy to spot (even at the bottom of your golf bag) and serves as a reminder to re-apply each time it catches your eye.

Because of the rich emollient ingredients and hefty helping of zinc oxide, this sunscreen involves a bit of elbow grease to spread it evenly across the skin. Once it's been blended in, though, it's undetectable on all skin tones.

Price at time of publish: $18

SPF Protection: SPF 30 | Reef-Safe: Yes | Size: 3 fl. oz.

Best Multitasking: Honest Beauty Clean Corrective Tinted Moisturizer with Vitamin C

Honest Beauty Clean Corrective Tinted Moisturizer with Vitamin C
Courtesy

What We Love: It addresses four skincare concerns at once — sun protection, blue light defense, uneven skin tone, and previous sun damage.

What We Don't Love: It's not a traditional sunscreen, per se, so be sure to apply a thick coat.

This four-in-one tinted moisturizer-meets-sunscreen offers SPF 30 protection, blue light defense, vitamin C to address an uneven skin tone, and repair previous sun damage over time. The finish provides a soft, diffused effect that hides the look of fine lines, wrinkles and blemishes, too. This pick is great for a minimalist, or someone who likes to keep their skincare and makeup routines relatively simple.

Although it targets a ton of skincare problems at the same time, it's not a classic sunscreen. It's recommended that you apply about a shot glass-sized amount of sunscreen all over your body or about two finger lengths for face for sufficient protection, so unless you're going to apply that much tinted moisturizer, it's wise to apply an actual sunscreen first.

Price at time of publish: $23.99 for oro medium

SPF Protection: SPF 30 | Reef-Safe: Yes | Size: 1.0 fl. oz.

What to Keep in Mind

SPF Protection

When shopping for sunscreen, it's important to consider the amount of SPF protection you need. The SPF number indicates how much protection a product offers against UVB rays, and according to Dr. Hartman, everyone should wear an SPF of 30 or higher every day. "If you plan to spend an extended period of time outside in the summer, using a higher SPF can add an additional layer of protection," he explains. "Once you get above SPF 50, though, the increased protection is marginal." With that said, a sunscreen with an SPF in the 30 to 50 range is best.

Formula

As with any product you put on your skin, it's important to select a sunscreen based on your skin type. If you have dry skin, you should look for a product that offers hydrating benefits in addition to sun protection. For those with oily, acne-prone skin, look for a formula that won't contribute to shine and ensures you won't break out. When reading labels, look for sunscreens that say "non-comedogenic" and "non-greasy." In order to truly find out if your skin will react well to a particular formula, it's best to perform a patch test. Dr. Hartman tells InStyle, "Use a small amount [of the formula] and rub it into your wrist and wait 24 hours." If you have no reaction, the sunscreen should be fine to use on other parts of the body without issue. If you see redness or have irritation in the area, then you're having a reaction and should not use that particular sunscreen.

Size

Sunscreen is something that you'll wear every day and re-apply every few hours, so it's best to pick a product that you won't run out of right away. Especially if you're considering investing in a more expensive option, keep in mind that you'll want to get the most bang for your buck. Don't skimp on quantity to save your wallet, so consider your budget for a daily-use product before purchasing, too.

Your Questions, Answered

Why should you wear sunscreen on your face?

Slathering on SPF is the single best step you can take to avoid premature skin aging as well as prevent skin cancer. Wearing sunscreen on your face every day helps to protect your skin from sun damage, loss of elasticity, hyperpigmentation, and even fine lines and wrinkles. Additionally, daily exposure to UV light can cause skin cancer, so when it comes to prevention, lathering up is key.

How often should you reapply sunscreen?

There are two types of SPF: physical and chemical. As the title suggests, physical, also known as mineral, creates a layer on the skin that blocks UV rays from entering the skin and causing damage. This also means that physical sunscreens go to work immediately after applying. Sunscreen should be the last step in your morning skincare routine every day.

As Dr. Hartman explains, if you work indoors and you don't sit near a window, then applying sunscreen once in the morning should be sufficient. "If you spend any time longer than 10 minutes outside, sit near a window, or go swimming, you should reapply every two hours," he says. When you're outdoors more in warmer weather, it's essential to reapply, especially if you are swimming or sweating.

How can you tell if sunscreen is reef-safe?

Phrases like "reef-safe" and "reef-friendly" are not actually regulated by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA), so it can be tricky to figure out which sunscreens are actually harmful to marine wildlife. It's important to check the active ingredients label on the back of your sunscreen to ensure that reef-harming ingredients aren't included. If your sunscreen contains chemicals like Oxybenzone, Octinoxate, and Homosalate, you'll want to swap it out for a mineral-based option containing Zinc Oxide, which has been proven to be harmless for coral reefs. "Much of the evidence suggests that non-reef-safe sunscreens are tied to ingredients present in chemical sunscreens," Dr. Hartman shares.

Related Articles