If you are wondering whether black skin needs sunscreen, you are in the right place. We have all heard the saying that darker skin doesn’t need sunscreen because melanin protects it from the sun. However, this is a myth that dermatologists are really trying to debunk.
Darker skin has a higher tolerance for the effects of sunlight, but that does not mean it cannot get sun damage that results in hyperpigmentation, sunburn, or even skin cancer. To prevent this, sunscreen is necessary. Sunscreen has ingredients that block, deflect or reflect the sun’s rays.
Benefits of sunscreen
According to dermatologists, darker skin has up to a sun protection factor (SPF) of 13 due to the levels of melanin found in our skin. Though you may feel this is enough to protect you from the effects of sun exposure, it is not. You still need extra protection, which is found in sunscreen. Sunscreen is important as it:
- Protects from sunburn. A sunburn is a skin burn that may be painful to touch and appears dry and cracked, and sunscreen covers the skin with a protective layer preventing this.
- Protects you from skin cancer. UV rays are made up of ultraviolet A (UVA) and B (UVB) rays. Too much exposure to UVB rays can change the DNA in the skin and cause damage and cancer.
- Prevents premature aging. The damage from ultraviolet rays from the sun damages the skin’s healthy cells and also cause premature aging and wrinkles, and sunscreen protects from this.
Types of Sunscreen
Most men of color find it hard to find a sunscreen that leaves behind white residue, making the skin look ashy. For that reason, you need to understand the different types of sunscreen.
Mineral sunscreens, also known as physical sunscreens, usually contain zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. When applied, mineral sunscreens stay on the top layer of the skin and deflect UV rays. Zinc also offers calming effects when the skin is exposed to the sun.
Because of the physical barrier they create, they protect against both ultraviolet A (UVA) and B (UVB) rays. They also work immediately, and you can, therefore, go directly in the sun after application.
Mineral sunscreens are great for children and individuals with sensitive or damaged skin. However, the greatest disadvantage of this type of sunscreen is that it makes your skin appear white or ashy. You also have to keep reapplying it because it washes off easily and runs off when you sweat.
Chemical sunscreens contain several ingredients that penetrate the skin deeper. They absorb the UV rays and convert them into heat before releasing them. Chemical sunscreens take longer to absorb and need about 30 minutes before exposure. You can apply them directly after washing your face with any suitable body bar.
Unfortunately, because of how deep they go, chemical sunscreens can clog the pores in the skin and worsen skin with acne.
Hybrid sunscreens are those that contain both mineral and chemical ingredients. Such sunscreens put together the deflective attributes of mineral sunscreens with the absorbent ones found in chemical sunscreens.
How to Choose the Right Sunscreen
You can now find sunscreen developed by black people for dark skin tones. Some contain ingredients that moisturize the skin as well as protect it. However, before you choose your sunscreen, there are certain things you should look out for.
First, look at the SPF count on the bottle. Experts suggest an SPF level of 30 and above to ensure you are well protected. Choose an SPF count that is higher if you spend a lot of time exposed to the sun.
Secondly, sunscreens come in different forms that include lotions, sprays, creams, gels, and sticks. Sprays are light and easy to use and great for children who can’t sit still. Creams are great for those with dry skin, while lotions are lighter and work well for those with normal or oily skin. Sticks are great for reaching the area around the eyes.
Third, look for a sunscreen that does not make your skin ashy. Since the FDA approves chemical sunscreens, these are the most preferred by dark skin men.
Fourth, if you can, look for broad-spectrum sunscreen. Such sunscreens protect against both UVA and UVB rays giving total coverage.
Lastly, look at the expiration date. Ensure that the product you choose has not exceeded its expiration date. You do not want to harm your skin.
How to Apply Sunscreen
There is no perfect way to apply sunscreen. Less is more but ensure you apply it on all exposed skin. Remember to apply any chemical sunscreen 20 to 30 minutes before you expose yourself to direct sunlight. Sunscreen wears off after some time, and you will need to reapply, particularly if you sweat or swim.
Applying sunscreen regularly should be part of your daily routine, especially if you are planning to spend some time under direct sunlight.