The Sunscreen Dilemma: Do People With Dark Skin Need Sunscreen?

Monika Khajuria

With the temperature soaring and the sun at its prime, the summer season doesn't only demand a change in your dressing style but your skincare regime as well. And the most important in the regime during summers is protection against the sun. If you already did not know, the harmful rays of the sun can do the worst damage to your skin. Before we enjoy all that summers has to offer, it is best to protect our skin from the potential sun damage aka lathering lots and lots of sunscreen on your skin and body(if you are going to a beach or wearing short and cute summer dresses). And if you have dark skin, you might be skipping the most important protection for your skin just because you think you don't need it.

People with dark skin usually tend to skip sunscreen altogether due to the notion that the sun can not harm their skin. One of the reasons may be that because dark skin can not get sunburnt easily. Well, let's clear one thing here- sunburn and sun damage are two different things. Sunburn is considered one of the elements of sun damage but that not it. The damage that the sun does to your skin is much more than that. And even if you have dark skin, sunburn isn't a far-stretched possibility. That being said, let us look at the reasons that people with dark skin need sunscreen.

Why Do People With Dark Skin Need Sunscreen?

The colour of our skin is determined by melanin, a naturally occurring pigment in our body. If you have darker skin, you have more melanin in your body. Melanin, however, does not just provide colour to your skin, it also has skin-protective properties. The pigment, melanin is an UV-absorbing agent and protects your skin from the UVA and UVB rays of the sun[1]. As the darker skin has more melanin, it(dark skin) does have greater protection against the sun damage compared to light skin but it is still not enough.

Natural SPF of dark skin is 13 which is way better as compared to the natural SPF of lighter skin which is only 3. While white skin allows 24% UVB and 55% UVA rays to pass through the skin, darker skin absorbs most of the UV rays only allowing 7.4% of UVB and 17.5% of UVA rays to penetrate the skin[2].

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But, is that enough sun-protection? The answer is no. An expert will tell you to get a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. There are abundant of products today with an SPF of 50. The sunscreens with an SPF of 15 are now considered 'not good enough'. And so, the dark skin with an SPF of only 13 does not make the cut to protect your skin from the sun. That means you are exposing your skin to damage by not indulging in a sunscreen.

If the ashy look and the white pigment that settles on your skin after applying the sunscreen the reason behind you not using it, we suggest changing your sunscreen and opting for a different formulation. The sunscreens that we usually get are mineral sunscreen that include titanium dioxide or zinc oxide. These work great but leave a white film on your skin. Switch to chemical sunscreens to avoid this issue. And don't worry. Chemical sunscreens are completely safe to use.

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To Sum It Up...

In the end, no matter the colour of your skin, you need sun protection. Even if you measure the sun damage by sunburns, remember for darker skin sunburns might not come across as red, angry patches on the skin but as sensitive, hot and painful to touch spots. Not only that, but the damage done by the sun can also go as far as skin cancer. So, remember to always protect your skin from the sun.

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