There has been an explosion of search for sunscreens for dark skin in recent years, because new manufacturing technologies have opened up many more choices for women with darker skin tones, and dark skin women everywhere want in. These are developments we should all wholeheartedly celebrate.
For the most part, gone are the heavy, thick and gloopy suncreams that would not only just sit on top of skin, but also leave dark skin with a ghostly ashy cast. This used to make educating women of colour on the importance of sunscreen a hard task – no one wanted to look like a second rate ghost version of themselves.
Alongside this, there was also the rather damaging narrative that Black and brown skin doesn’t need sunscreen, because of the presence of melanin – the pigment which gives Black skin its colour and forms an inbuilt protective cloak that absorbs most of the destructive sun rays that can lead to diseases like skin cancer.
This couldn’t be further from the truth, because darker skin tones are also susceptible to the damaging effects of the sun. Research shows that because of melanin, on average Black skin has a natural SPF 13.4 which is definitely a head start but totally not enough.
Darker skin tones need protection especially from UVA rays which age the skin and exacerbate common Black skin complaints such as hyperpigmentation and melasma. Likewise, to a lesser extent UVB rays burn the skin and also affect darker skin tones by fuelling malignant DNA and cellular damage. Whilst the statistics are lower for the Black community, it is still possible for Black skin to develop both sun related and non sun related skin cancers.
Experts recommend applying sunscreen for Black skin daily and even on cloudy days and when at home as UVA rays can penetrate through glass and are around us regardless of the weather. Believe or not, now that the world has opened up again and we’re all back to frequent flying, it’s important to apply sunscreen on the plane – UVA rays do come through the windows and at 35,000 feet they are significantly more intense.
How to find a good sunscreen for your dark skin:
When it comes to skincare, clearly one size does not fit all, and this holds specially true for sunscreen. While dark skin provides some natural protection against UV damage, it’s simply not enough, specially when it comes to the anti-pigmentation properties that they care. It’s therefore crucial to top up your natural SPF to prevent sunburn, pigmentation issues and the increased risk of skin cancer. Here is what to look for when searching for the perfect sunscreen for your dark skin:
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