sunscreen

“Summa Summa Summa time. Summa tim!”

Summer is finally here! And if you’re like me, then your summer is filled with BBQs, beach trips, amusement park visits and other outdoor activities. But while you’re enjoying the warm weather, shorts, bikinis and maxi dresses, don’t forgot your most important accessory – sunscreen.

The truth is everyone needs sunscreen. However, the reality is that many brown–skinned people don’t wear it because they feel that they don’t need it. While it is true that darker-skinned people don’t burn as easily as someone with fair skin, it does not mean that we aren’t susceptible to burning, developing sun spots or even worse, skin cancer.

I can go on and on about why you should wear, but I’m not. Instead here are just two reasons why sunscreen is important.

1. Sunscreen Helps to Prevent  Skin Cancer

Here’s a quick breakdown of the biology of our skin. The darker you are, the more melanin you have because melanin gives the skin color. Melanin also helps to protect the skin against the sun which causes premature aging (i.e. wrinkles) and skin cancer. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, “In African American skin, melanin provides a sun protection factor (SPF) approximately equivalent to 13.4, compared to 3.4 in white skin[i].” This helps to explain why skin cancer is more prevalent in people with fairer skin as opposed to people with darker skin. But this does not mean that people with darker skin are not at risk for developing skin cancer.

Also, what’s interesting is that although there are fewer cases of skin cancer amongst dark-skinned people, the mortality rate is higher for dark-skinned people with skin cancer than fair-skinned people with skin cancer. Experts believe this is due to the fact that dark-skinned people don’t take preventive measures such as wearing sunscreen (hint hint) and do not routinely check for signs of skin cancer.

2. Sunscreen Helps to Reduce Hyperpigmentation

Have you ever gotten a cut or a pimple that formed a dark mark as it healed? Did that dark mark last for weeks? Months? Maybe even years? If you answered yes, then you have skin that hyperpigments. Hyperpigmentation is basically the over production of melanin in the skin.

If you suffer from hyperpigmentation, then you know how easily dark marks can form on your skin and how difficult they can be to treat. Unprotected sun exposure, especially in the summer months, only makes hyperpigmentation worse. If you don’t use sunscreen, you are allowing your areas of hyperpigmentation to become increasingly darker. Extra darkening of the skin means that those marks will take longer to fade – no matter what kind of fading cream you use.

 

What To Do:

To reduce your risk of burning and developing sun-damaged skin, always apply sunscreen to your skin prior to sun exposure. I know many people say that they don’t like sunscreen because it’s too thick and greasy and it leaves a film on their skin. And honestly, I get it. That was definitely me. I hated the way sunscreen smelled and looked/felt on my skin. So I didn’t wear any. But when I got into my 20s, and started to learn more about the negative effects of sun exposure, I realized how important sunscreen is. You just have to find the one that works for you.

Because I have combination skin that tends to produce more oil in the warmer months, I use an oil-free, mattifying lotion on my face that combats shine and has an SPF of at least 15. And I use this everyday! If I know that I am going to be outside in the sun majority of day with a good amount of skin exposed, I make sure to put on sunscreen with an SPF of 30-50. I personally like sprays such as Coppertone because it absorbs right into the skin without feeling greasy, not to mention it’s more convenient and less messy to apply.

If you wear concealer or foundation on a daily basis, try either using a light moisturizer with SPF underneath your makeup or use makeup that contains some form of sun protection.

 

Conclusion:

Darker skin may be less susceptible to sun damage, but it’s not immune to it. Wear sunscreen whenever you are out in the sun! Your skin will thank you for it.

 

I Want to Hear From You:

  • Do you wear sunscreen?
  • Do you believe in the myth that black people do not need sunscreen?

[i] Skin Cancer and Skin of Color