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Finding a Sunscreen That Won't Leave a White Cast

Our low down on the UV filters to look out for to avoid a chalky finish

Pippa HarmanCo-Founder Renude
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Finding a Sunscreen That Won't Leave a White Cast
Written byPippa HarmanCo-Founder Renude
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We all know that daily sunscreen is essential for protecting us against skin cancer, as well as premature ageing of the skin. But finding a sunscreen to suit deeper skin tones can sometimes be difficult, so we wanted to give you the low down on which filters can leave you with a chalky finish, so you know what ingredients to avoid and find your ideal sunscreen.

Broadly speaking, there are two types of UV filters, which can be grouped into mineral/physical or chemical/synthetic. 

Which Mineral/Physical UV Filters Leave a White Cast?

Mineral filters are ground white powders, which work by reflecting UV rays to prevent them from causing any damage to the skin. This mechanism means they tend to leave a chalky finish on medium-deep skin tones. These will be shown on the ingredients list (aka the INCI), as the following:

•  Titanium Dioxide

•  Zinc Oxide 

•  Titanium Dioxide (nano) - this is the exception, as this is ground so finely, to nano-sized particles, that is will have a lesser whitening effect on the skin so may be suitable for light brown skin tones, although we would still suggest proceeding with caution and sampling the formula first where possible.

Which Chemical/Synthetic UV Filters Leave a White Cast?

Chemical/synthetic filters are compounds which are able to absorb UV radiation and dissipate it by converting it into heat energy so it can't cause damage to the skin. This mechanism of working means that synthetic filters are not typically reflective white powders, and therefore a lot of them do not leave a white cast. However, there is one popular chemical filter that you also want to keep an eye out for.

•  Methylene Bis-Benzotriazolyl Tetramethylbutylphenol - this is a powder form chemical/synthetic UV filter which provides protection against UV through reflecting and scattering rays, as well as through absorption. This is insoluble, so is suspended in the formula and can leave a white cast. 

Sunscreens are typically formulated with A) mineral-only, B) synthetic-only, or C) a blend of both filter types. For medium-deep skin tones, we’d suggest opting for a chemical-only sunscreen formula, which does not contain Methylene Bis-Benzotriazolyl Tetramethylbutylphenol, and this should avoid any chalky finish on the skin. 

Renude-Approved Sunscreens For All Skin Tones

•  Eucerin Oil Control Dry Touch SPF50 - £16.50. Best for: combination-oily skin, prone to blackheads and blemishes. 

•  Heliocare Water Gel SPF50 - £31. Best for: maximum protection against infra-red, blue light and free radicals.  

•  Thank you Farmer Sun Project Water Sun Cream SPF50 - £20. Best for: normal-dry skin types, looking for a boost of radiance.

To learn more about sunscreens and why they are so important for your daily routine, check out our blog answering the most common questions on the subject. 

Pippa HarmanCo-Founder Renude
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