WHY YOUR BLACK SKIN NEEDS SUNSCREEN
Sunscreen. Most black people still believe it’s some fanciful product designed for the other side. Well, we couldn’t be more misguided. Sunscreen/sunblock is a substance specifically designed to absorb and/reflect the sun’s ultraviolet rays before they come in contact with human skin. The key here is human skin i.e. it doesn’t really matter if you have black skin or white, or in between, you need your sunscreen.
We black people tend to depend too heavily on melanin for protection. Yes, the higher concentration of melanin in dark skin does offer some natural protection from the sun’s UV rays, but the truth is that it isn’t enough. Everyone has melanin in their skin, it’s the pigment that gives color to our eyes, skin, and hair -that is its primary job. The little extra protection it offers is just a bonus and it isn’t exactly dedicated to that job. Sunscreen, however, has other functions that all your melanin drip simply can’t give you.
What else does sunscreen do?
- Lowers your risk of skin cancer and other skin conditions
By protecting your skin from direct contact with the sun’s UV rays, sunscreen actually lowers your risk of developing skin cancer, melanoma, and general skin damage from the sun’s rays. This means that sunscreen is a medically smart choice. You get to protect yourself from terrible diseases just by covering yourself with a topical cream. [add meaning of melanoma]
- Maintains smooth and even skin tone
Wearing sunscreen means you protect your skin from sunburns, skin discoloration, hyperpigmentation, and more. Without sunscreen, these “injuries” tend to add up and leave you with not-so-pleasant-looking skin. Your darker skin is not as susceptible to sunburns, but make no mistake it does happen with excess exposure, you just can’t see it. You might notice some parts or even patches of your skin seem darker than others. This is hyperpigmentation. Your body naturally produces more melanin in these areas because they get hit by the sun so much. Sunscreen is vital in preventing hyperpigmentation.
- Prevents premature aging
This Australian study proves that regular use of sunscreen prevents “photoaging” a term that comprises “loss of elasticity, wrinkling, and spotting caused by UV rays” Photoaging is bound to happen –unless you plan on never setting foot outside. So it’s a given, if you want to keep your skin youthful, supple, and fresh, you’ve got to open up that tube of sunscreen and actively use it too!
What type of sunscreen should you use for black skin?
Sunscreen comes in different forms, sizes, and from different brands, but one thing is constant –SPF.
SPF means “Sun Protection Factor” and ranges from 10 to well above 60. The SPF lets you know how much protection your sunscreen offers. It tells you how much extra time the sun would need before it can burn you when you have it on. For instance, a sunscreen with SPF 15 means the sun is 15 X slower in reaching your skin. So the higher the SPF, the higher the protection your sunscreen offers.
For everyday use, professionals recommend at least SPF30 for adequate protection. Obviously, you’ll need to reapply your sunscreen if you go swimming or sweat profusely during the day.
Is there such a thing as too much sunscreen?
Turns out there is. Even though excessive exposure to the sun’s UV rays is dangerous, putting your skin in total eclipse can be detrimental to your overall health. You still need the sun for your body to naturally produce vitamin D and possibly some other micronutrients. Also, who doesn’t love a good, healthy tan? Sunscreen won’t prevent you from tanning, but too much sunscreen will slow it down.
The bottom line is: Your melanin isn’t an adequate replacement for sunscreen. Going about without sunscreen is a dangerous invitation to a variety of conditions and yet cutting the sun completely out of your routine is not an option. That’s why your black skin needs sunscreen -so you can safely go about your life beneath the beams of the gleaming sun.