Sun creams have come on in leaps and bounds over the last five years. The increase in new technologies has also opened up more choices for black skin and that is something to celebrate.
For the most part, gone are the thick and gloopy sunscreens of old that would not only be heavy and cloying on the skin, but also leave black skin with a ghostly ashy cast. This used to make educating women of colour on the importance of sunscreen a hard task – because no one wants to look like a second rate ghost version of themselves.
This further perpetuated the damaging misconception that black and brown skin doesn’t need sunscreen, seeing that it was only suitable for Caucasian skin tones. This couldn’t be further from the truth. The sun does also effect black skin negatively. It didn’t help either that marketing tended to exclude people of colour. It’s very pleasing to see how the landscape has and is changing and last year Black Skin Directory pioneered the first sunscreen advert targeted at women of colour.
It’s true that because of melanin – the pigment which gives black skin its colour, darker skin tones have an inbuilt protective cloak that absorbs most of the destructive sun rays that can lead to diseases like skin cancer. Research shows that on average black skin has a natural SPF 13.4 which is definitely a head start!
However, this is far from enough to afford full and complete protection from UV radiation, 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.
It is good practice to apply sunscreen 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.
With this in mind, here’s a round up of best in class innovative sunscreens I’m loving right now for black skin: