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I'm an SPF Newbie, But This Supergoop Sunscreen Is Already My Favorite

Shape 8/11/2021 Taylor Jennings-Brown

a person posing for the camera: Getty Images / Supergoop! © Provided by Shape Getty Images / Supergoop!

I'm nearly 22 and, until recently, I didn't think that I — or anyone else who's Black — needed sunscreen. I would occasionally use a sunscreen spray when I was with fair-skinned friends who insisted upon it, but I never thought my deeply melanated skin actually needed it. Sunscreen seemed like a luxury I could afford to skip out on. On top of that, I was constantly seeking out direct sunlight since I had extremely low vitamin D levels as a child. (Low vitamin D levels are more common in Black people since pigmentation can affect the body's ability to produce this bone-strengthening vitamin.)

But I finally had my a-ha moment when my stepmom recently gave me the 411 on the importance of sunscreen, and I've been serious about protecting my skin from the sun ever since. As I dug deeper into the science, I found out that while melanin does act as a partial barrier from harmful UV rays, it only offers a max of SPF 13 protection at best. I'd always grown up thinking my brown skin made me immune to sun damage, and I was officially second-guessing everything I thought to be true.

The sun's UV rays are quite harmful — even to melanated skin. "External skin insults like UV rays, visible light, and air pollutants are harmful to the skin irrespective of the color," dermatologist, Caroline Robinson, M.D., F.A.A.D previously told Shape. "While it is true that melanin provides some protection and that those with melanin-rich skin tend to age slower, the effects of chronic sun exposure in the form of discoloration, wrinkles, and even skin cancers are all possible on the skin [of people] of color," said Dr. Robinson. And my fears of vitamin D deficiency weren't enough to warrant unprotected exposure. It can be just as effective (and safer!) to get your daily dose of vitamin D from superfoods such as fish, dairy, eggs, or vitamin D supplements (Buy It, $17, And although Black people are much less likely to be diagnosed with skin cancer, the survival rate statistics are not as encouraging: Black people have a five-year melanoma survival rate of just 67 percent, vs. 92 percent for white people, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. (Related: How Often Should You Really Have a Skin Cancer Screening?)

After realizing just how much sun protection matters, I started surveying my product options. One thing I quickly learned is that there are two main types of sunscreen: Mineral sunscreens contain zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide, while chemical sunscreens contain oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate, and/or octinoxate. (FTR, some sunscreen formulas are a mineral-chemical hybrid.) While each has its own pros and cons, they both get the job done, so just choose a sunscreen that you're comfortable with and works best for your skin.

While I'm still an SPF rookie, after trying a handful of formulas, one quickly rose to the top of my personal preference charts: Supergoop Superscreen Daily Moisturizer SPF 40 (Buy It, $38, has officially become a staple in my daily morning skin-care routine. The SPF moisturizer leaves my face feeling dewy without any oily residue, all while packing a powerful SPF 40 punch. (FYI, you should aim for at least 30 SPF for most outdoor activities, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation.) And since this Supergoop sunscreen is a chemical variety it doesn't make me look like I'm wearing a foundation that's 10 shades too light, as mineral sunscreens tend to leave a white cast on skin. (Related: The Best Sunscreen for Dark Skin Tones

Supergoop! © Provided by Shape Supergoop!

Buy It: Supergoop Superscreen Daily Moisturizer SPF 40, $38,

Since discovering this pot of pure magic, I actually look forward to my morning routine. I start by washing my face then hydrating and brightening with hyaluronic acid and niacinamide serums respectively, and I finish by applying my Supergoop sunscreen moisturizer (remember to apply a nickel-sized amount of sunscreen to your face for full protection) One of the best parts about this Supergoop sunscreen is that it's a two-for-one product that helps me combine my SPF and moisturizer into one simple step — aka more time for last-minute smoothie runs.

While the Supergoop Superscreen Daily Moisturizer checks all of my boxes, the brand has plenty of other sunscreens that are also fan favorites including the Supergoop PLAY Everyday Lotion SPF 50 (Buy It, $22, and Supergoop Glowscreen SPF 40 (Buy It, $36, The Glowscreen left little iridescent shimmers across my face that, as promised, made me glow. Although I haven't tried the Supergoop Everyday Lotion yet, the reviews are overwhelmingly positive, with Sephora reviewers calling it "easy to apply" and "hydrating without being oily." (Related: The 11 Best Sunscreens for Your Face, According to Customer Reviews)

All Supergoop sunscreen products are cruelty-free, and the brand was the first to create a chemical sunscreen formula that excludes oxybenzone — a chemical blocker that studies have suggested may cause damages to coral reefs. Scientists found high concentrations of oxybenzone in the waters around popular coral reefs in Hawaii and the Caribbean, according to a 2015 study published in the Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology. Not only was the coral bleached, but it left a larval (a growing form of coral) in a "deformed" condition, and eco-scientists theorize the chemical played a role.

The Supergoop Superscreen Daily Moisturizer in particular contains chemical blockers avobenzone, homosalate, and octisalate, none of which are on the National Ocean Service's list of sunscreen ingredients that can harm marine life, which makes me feel good about using this product whether at home or on vacation.

I spent 21+ years of my life unaware of the risks I was putting on my skin and health by skipping out on daily sunscreen. But now I know that even though my dark skin tone may have protected me somewhat, Black does indeed crack if you don't care for it properly. Thankfully once I realized my negligence, it didn't take long for me to find a winner in Supergoop Superscreen Daily Moisturizer. To all my fellow brown-skin girls (channeling my inner Blue Ivy Carter) who want (or, like me, need) to up their sunscreen game, I'd highly recommend giving it a try.

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