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Should Black People Wear Sunscreen?

Should Black People Wear Sunscreen?

With the warmer months ahead, the question of whether Black people should wear sunscreen has been a running debate for some time now. In this piece, I investigate this topic, dispelling common myths surrounding it, and share knowledge to answer this age-old question.

Why do people think Black people do not need sunscreen?

As Black people, we have significantly higher amounts of melanin than white people, naturally we have a higher barrier of protection (SPF) against harmful UV rays from the sun.

This, therefore, has led to the belief that Black people are naturally immune to getting skin damage from the sun.

However, to put things into perspective, the skin only has the capacity to offer an SPF number of up to 13; even in darker skin tones. This is pretty low considering many dermatologists recommend an SPF number of at least 30 for effective sun protection for Black people.

What is the SPF Gap?

SPF stands for sun protection factor. The SPF number measures sunscreen protection from UVB rays. UVB rays are the type of harmful sun rays that cause sunburn and contribute to skin cancer.

Historically, the medical field has been irrefutably negligent of Black people, and failed to provide adequate medical care, compared to their white counterparts. This includes dermatology too. A research study conducted in 2012 revealed that 47% of dermatologists and dermatologist residents were not accurately trained on skin conditions in Black people.

This statistic is also informed by other studies which highlight that doctors are less likely to prescribe sunscreen for skin-related issues to Black people, even after ER visits. Black people are up to nine times less likely to receive this prescription than their white counterparts.

Problems That Arise When Black People Do Not Wear Sunscreen

Melanin is not consistent throughout the body and skin cancer does not discriminate. Due to the lack of knowledge surrounding darker skin tones and sunscreen, cases where African-Americans receive a skin cancer diagnosis, indicate that they are four times more likely to be diagnosed at a more serious stage than white people with similar diagnoses.

Skin cancer can largely be prevented through regular sunscreen use and regular skin checks. This is why it is important for the Black community to be educated on SPF and the protection it offers. It could really save lives!

The harmful impact caused by UV rays, can manifest differently in Black skin compared to white skin. White people can more readily see sunburns on their skin, whilst Black people may feel their skin is hotter, more painful or tight. These are signs you should look out for if you’ve been in the sun for too long.

Other symptoms include large pore sizes, patchy pigment, fine lines and wrinkles.

What Type of Sunscreen is Suited for Black people?

As much as we need sunscreen, it can often be a struggle to find one that caters to Black skin. This relates back to the lack of education surrounding sunscreen and Black people. Manufacturers are less likely to consider darker skin tones when making SPF products and instead cater towards white skin.

Unfortunately, this has led to many sunscreens leaving an unpleasant white cast when used by people with darker skin shades.

However, companies like Black Girl Sunscreen are changing the game, by catering specifically to Black skin tones. Not only is Black Girl Sunscreen free from white casting, but it also uses an effective SPF number of 30. It’s also a Black owned and woman-led company!

Vegan, and cruelty-free, Black Girl Sunscreen possesses natural moisturising ingredients including avocado, jojoba oil, carrot juice, and more in its formula. The consistency of this Black Girl Sunscreen is thick, yet easy to lavish across your skin.

How To Wear Sunscreen

Another myth that arises surrounding this topic is that you should only use sunscreen when the sun is hot.

However, this is simply not true. Even when you are at home, sun rays are still able to penetrate through windows and land on your skin. Therefore, really and truly, sunscreen should be a part of your daily skin routine.

So, here’s a quick step by step guide of how to apply sunscreen for your face:

  • Cleanse skin – a light daily soap to prevent harsh stripping of the skin
  • Skin Serum – this could be light natural oil, for example
  • Face moisturiser – this could be a cream
  • Sunscreen – with an SPF of at least 30

When applying your sunscreen, over your body and face, apply a thicker layer that you can visibly see to ensure you are putting on enough. Then, follow this up with a thinner layer. Ensure you massage the lotion in completely until there is no sunscreen visibly left. You can then rest assured that you are SPF protected.

There are also skincare products whose primary purpose is to moisturise, but also have SPF built into them. So, reading the ingredients of the skincare products you use is a good way to get a better understanding of what it is actually doing for your skin.

Should Black people wear sunscreen?

The short answer to the question of should Black people wear sunscreen is yes! Black people are not immune from harmful UV-rays or even artificial light damage. It’s just that it’s less likely to happen compared to white people.

I hope this article helped you understand why all black people should wear sunscreen. To read our Founders’ definitive list of Black-owned beauty brands, click here.

Written By: Maxine Harrison – the Business Editor for Meeting of Minds UK. She is also a freelance writer and founder of the Remi Reports blog – a blog helping freelance creatives build their business and lifestyle.

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Staffed by a team of international Black female and non-binary writers, penning crucial and critical commentary at the intersection of race and gender.

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