Updated: Sep 30, 2020
Dark skin and sunscreen.
This has been a hot topic for debate, more so recently than ever before. Skincare for people of colour, especially black people is being pushed to the forefront by our favourite skincare publications, experts and YouTube gurus...Finally!
It would be a nice thought to believe that people of colour are now more educated in this area, however, we simply aren't and have a long way to go.
It's frustrating trying to advise your friends and loved ones to wear SPF, when they turn around and give you that cliché response "we're black, we don't need sunscreen" or "our melanin protects us from the sun"... FALSE!
The Lowdown on Black Skin
Let's get scientific shall we? Where does your beautiful brown pigment come from? The outer layer of your skin is called the epidermis and this is where your melanocytes live.
Quick myth buster, black people do not have more melanocytes in their skin than other races, we all have the same amount. The only difference is that melanocytes are more active in darker skin tones, leading to the production of the melanin pigment.
Although many people believe that melanin is a sufficient sun protectant, professionals have highlighted that darker skin only carries a natural SPF of around 13. That's it. Shocking right? With sun care products mostly marketing an SPF of 30 and up, this is hardly sufficient for our melanated skin. There is also a disparity between how much of that natural SPF is able to protect us from the different UV rays, as there’s not as much protection from UVA as opposed to UVB.
What Sun Exposure Does to Darker Skin
Sun light, as well as artificial light does impact people of colour, despite what you’ve been told. Black people are still susceptible to illnesses such as skin cancer although in such cases the cancer is usually picked up on in its later stages. The effects of the sun and UV rays aren’t always visible straight away on black skin and many dermatologists say that they don’t have the sufficient knowledge to treat darker skin.
Studies have also shown that black people and other people of colour like Hispanics have actually suffered from sunburn, so do not be deceived when it comes to your melanin!
Even if you don’t get sunburn, exposure to UV rays produces photoaging, causing the skin to age before its time. This can take the form of dull skin with reduced elasticity and more sagging.
There’s also the topic of hyperpigmentation. People of colour are more susceptible to developing issues with the pigment of their skin than their white counterparts. Sun and light exposure plays a huge role in this and shouldn’t be ignored. When your skin isn’t sufficiently protected, that’s when your melanocytes start to over-compensate and this then causes an excess production of melanin which appears on the skin as hypergimentation. If you already suffer from scarring, exposure to light without sunscreen will only make things worse.
Don’t be fooled, sun exposure isn’t just exclusive to summer months. Your skin still needs protection during the winter months too, as the skin can still absorb 80% of UV rays.
If you’re determined to minimise or eliminate dark spots and hyperpigmentation, and combat premature signs of aging, you want to use your sunscreen as a shield from the harsh penetration of UVA, UVB and HEV (blue light).
It's also recommended by skin professionals to incorporate products rich in antioxidants and vitamins, due to their repairing nature. Vitamins A, C and E are a great combo to help tackle hyperpigmentation. Vitamins C and E work especially well together to tackle scarring and heal damage to the skin. Our regenerative, anti-blemish serum is launching soon, is packed with skin repairing goodies, vitamins and antioxidants that help with rejuvenating the skin, scarring and protection from UV rays (in combination with sunscreen). We're receiving positive reviews already from product testers, so if you want to be the first to know about our launch, sign up to our mailing list now so that you don't miss out!