“Sunscreen” by Tom Newby is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Tinted Sunscreens: Consumer Preferences Based on Light, Medium, and Dark Skin Tones

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Neelam Vashi MD Director of the Boston University Center for Ethnic Skin Dermatologist at Boston Medical Center

Dr. Vashi

Dr. Neelam Vashi MD
Director of the Boston University Center for Ethnic Skin
Dermatologist at Boston Medical Center, and

Dr. Henriette De La Garza MD Research fellow at Boston University School of Medicine

Dr. De La Garza

Dr. Henriette De La Garza MD

Research fellow
Boston University School of Medicine


MedicalResearch.com:  What is the background for this study? 

Response: The COVID-19 pandemic abruptly shifted many of our daily activities to an online world, dramatically increasing the use of electronic devices. Although visible light exposure from screens is small compared with the amount of exposure from the sun, there is concern about the long-term effects of excessive screen time. Recent studies have demonstrated that exposure to light emitted from electronic devices, even for as little as 1 hour, may cause reactive oxygen species generation, apoptosis, collagen degradation, and necrosis of skin cells. Visible light increases tyrosinase activity and induces immediate erythema in light-skinned individuals and long-lasting pigmentation in dark-skinned individuals. In recent years, tinted sunscreens have been rising in popularity because they are an effective and convenient way to protect against high-energy visible light while providing cosmetic benefits. The purpose of this analysis was to study current available options and product factors that may influence consumer preference when choosing a tinted sunscreen so dermatologists can improve their familiarity with available products and tailor their recommendations to patients with all skin tones.

MedicalResearch.com:  What are the main findings? How should people of color determine the sunscreen type/strength that is best for their skin type?

Response: Our study revealed that the majority of tinted sunscreens products available in the market only offer one shade. In our cohort, tone incompatibility was the most commonly cited negative feature with most of the comments being shared by consumers with darker skin tones. This is of particular importance as tinted sunscreens are particularly helpful to protect people with skin of color against high energy visible light and to prevent dermatoses exacerbated by sunlight. An SPF of 30 or higher is the ideal strength for all skin types. 

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: This study suggests that patients with skin of color encounter difficulties in finding matching shades in tinted sunscreen products. The limited selection of shades poses a roadblock to proper treatment and prevention that can lead to inequities and disproportionally affect those with darker skin. These findings represent an area for improvement within the beauty industry and the dermatologic field to deliver culturally sensitive care by being knowledgeable about darker skin tones and tinted sunscreen formulations tailored to people with skin of color.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: Future studies should broaden the retailer’s monitor to provide more comprehensive prodcuts.

MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Response: Tinted sunscreens have been incorporated into daily-life products such as makeup, moisturizers, and serums, making application for users easy and convenient and decreasing the necessity of using multiple products. According to the findings in our study, cosmetic elegance and tone compatibility are the most important criteria for individuals seeking tinted sunscreens. These characteristics should be considered by dermatologists when making recommendations to patients in order to improve adherence.


Tinted Sunscreens: Consumer Preferences Based on Light, Medium, and Dark Skin Tone
Henriette De La Garza, MD; Poom Visutjindaporn, MD; Mayra B.C. Maymone, MD; Neelam A. Vashi, MD
Cutis. 2022;109:198-202, 223

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Last Updated on April 28, 2022 by Marie Benz MD FAAD