Can skin tone be the deciding factor in choosing a sunscreen

Sunscreen has been our favourite topic to discuss at the Skinvest office. The same set of conversations compelled us to think if one sunscreen suits all skin tones. We realised that there is actually one big differentiation which most sunscreen fails to address. Of course, the need as per the skin type is well-addressed. You can get brightening sunscreen, tinted sunscreen, hydrating sunscreen, some of the best sunscreens for oily skin, dry skin, and even sunscreen according to the preferred texture- matte, creamy, powdered, etc. Coming back to the topic, let’s understand why you need sunscreen to pair well with your skin tone as well.

 1. What are the two major types of skin tone?

Have you ever observed that some of us get red angry patches post-sun exposure, while some of us end up with tan? It’s all about your body’s ability to shield your skin. Those with darker skin tones tend to have the ability to produce melanin more than those with lighter skin tones. These two major types of skin tone, react differently to sun exposure. Furthermore, the skin tones are further broken down by the Fitzpatrick scale. This scale lists 6 types of skin tones and helps understand the skin’s reaction to UV light exposure. According to it, fair to light skin (Type 1 to 3) burns easily. The lighter the skin tone, the quicker it burns. Whereas brownish/wheatish to darker skin (Type 4 to 6) tends to tan easily. The darker the skin tone, the more the intensity of the tan. Type 4 to 6 is where most Indians fall and hence we’re prone to pigmentation. However, Indian skin is diverse and so the need is too. Take this super short quiz to know your skin type on the Fitzpatrick scale. How does that happen tho? Let’s jump to that part!

 2. What is the difference between light and dark skin tones?

The sunrays hit the skin, the mechanism is that it will penetrate your skin layer and destroy the regular functioning of the skin. If it is UV A rays then they can penetrate even further to damage the DNA structure. When the process initiates, the body has its natural mechanism to defend itself. It has melanocytes which are activated when there is inflammation. It takes inflammation as a sign of damage. So to ensure that it can protect you from further damage, it releases melanin which acts as a natural sunscreen to defend you from the sun rays. But when it comes to lighter skin tones, they can’t release melanin as quickly as darker skin tones. So they end up burning their skin. Eventually, if the sun exposure continues, the lighter skin tone may tan too.

 3. What should you look for in sunscreen according to skin tone?

A sunscreen that serves higher protection from UV A rays can be a huge win for lighter skin tones. They tend to burn and usually, this is due to UV A rays. So higher the PA rating, the better it is for them.

You need higher UV B rays protection for darker skin tones, along with UV A protection, since they tend to tan super easily.

Regarding ingredients, a lighter skin tone definitely needs more nourishing, brightening, and calming effects to defend against burning. Ingredients like Squalane, Hemp oil, Carrot oil, Glutathione, Rosewater, Propolis, etc can really help.

For darker skin tones, the idea is to heal, nourish, and brighten. Ingredients like Centella Asiatica, fruit extract, nourishing creams, tocopherol, etc can help to constantly fight tan.

Too much to note, right? We created a solution for everybody including those who’re looking for the best sunscreen to serve their acne-prone skin. It’s Sunny side up but reintroduced with complimenting energy in two little pump packs with ergonomic design. It’s called Cookie and Cream. Cookie is for those who fall in Type 4 to 6 on the Fitzpatrick scale and Cream is for Type 1 to 3. With these two cute packs, you can forget the three fingers rule to apply sunscreen because one pump of it delivers an equal amount. We’re simplifying sunscreen so you have more reasons to use it every day. It’s not just ease that we’re delivering but also results. Cookie is SPF 50 with PA ++++ and cream is SPF 40 with PA ++++. Keeping the customisation according to Indian skin in mind, Cookie has additional benefits of treating dark spots which makes it one of the best sunscreens for pigmented skin, dark spots, and sun tan. Cream has more of a moisturising and soothing effect which helps calm the burns. It is sweat and water-proof and you can wear it indoors to protect yourself from blue light too.

Sometimes it so happens that you may have a lighter skin tone but you would tan easily instead of getting that angry redness. Confused about which type are you on the Fitzpatrick scale? We got you! You can test yourself quickly here to know if it is Cookie or Cream for you.


1. Is sunscreen necessary for all skin tones?

Yes, the sun is not racist. Harsh sun rays harm all skin tones but just the effect of it is different. Hence, all should wear and re-wear sunscreen every 2-3 hours.

2. Can you remove the sun tan?

Yes. It just needs patience though. The process is to hydrate, heal, and protect every day. Read here on how to remove tan.

3. What must you prioritise while picking sunscreen?

While most of us immediately want to run for higher SPF and higher PA rating, we must know that SPF numbers are not linear progression i.e. SPF 60 doesn’t mean twice the protection than SPF 30. However, for Indian skin tone, it becomes important to check for an antioxidant-rich sunscreen because Indian skin is prone to pigmentation very easily.

4. Does lighter skin tone react differently than darker skin tone?

Yes. Lighter skin tone burns first, darker skin tone tans immediately.

5. Which SPF is the best for all skin tones?

Anything beyond 30 is good to be worn outside. The SPF numbers are not linear i.e. SPF 60 doesn’t mean double protection as that of SPF 30. Hence any SPF beyond 30 with a PA rating of ++++ is a good sunscreen for all skin tones. Refer to this blog to know your sunscreen label better!


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