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June 20, 2023
From exfoliating away dirt and debris to applying ultra-hydrating moisturizers and nourishing the delicate under-eye area, women take a ton of precautions to shield their skin from harm. So, why stop at sun protection? While it’s a common myth that women with darker skin tones don’t require as much sun protection during summer, this theory is just that: a total myth!
Though widely accepted as truth, the idea that dark skin tones don’t require proper sun protection is harmful to the skin’s appearance. Not only that, but it can also lead to potentially dangerous skin conditions, the most likely being a form of skin cancer like squamous cell carcinoma. Here’s the real truth behind this common myth, along with the facts to best protect your darker skin!
Studies show that individuals with darker skin tones, mainly Hispanic and Black populations, do not regularly wear sunscreen or take other steps to protect their skin from the sun. This lack of protection is likely due to the popular misconception that individuals with darker skin tones don’t need to shield themselves from the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) A and B rays as much as other skin tones.
So, what’s the truth? Realistically, deeper skin tones do contain more melanocytes or the cells that produce melanin, the pigment responsible for brown and black skin tones. Melanin can help protect against the sun’s harsh UVB rays. Because darker skin is richer in melanin, it has more protection. In fact, the melanin in deep skin tones can filter at least twice as much UV light as fair skin tones.
However, that does not mean that dark skin tones don’t require sun protection! On the contrary, the darker the skin tone, the more prone to pesky pigmentation problems that can also be signs of potentially dangerous skin conditions.
While melanin can filter the sun’s UV rays before they damage cellular structures in the skin, melanin alone cannot completely shield the skin from harm. And because darker skin may not show visible signs of sun damage as quickly as fair skin, many individuals don’t recognize potentially dangerous skin conditions until they progress into something more advanced and challenging to treat.
There is some degree of truth to the myth that darker skin tones naturally shield against harmful UV rays. But readers, be warned: No amount of melanin can completely protect your skin! If you want to maintain a summer glow — and keep your skin healthy for years to come — you must take additional precautions to protect your skin during the summer. Here’s what I recommend!
When it comes to sunscreen, always opt for a broad-spectrum product. ‘Broad-spectrum’ implies that sunscreen can shield your skin from both UVA and UVB rays, the latter of which can cause sun damage and skin cancers. Like fair and medium skin tones, darker skin tones require sunscreen to increase the skin’s natural resistance to sun damage, including signs of skin aging.
The experts recommend sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 30 or higher. Personally, I advise all my clients to find a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 50 for maximum protection. For clients with darker skin tones, check out this broad-spectrum SPF 50 sunscreen that goes on smooth, is never sticky, and avoids leaving a ghostly white cast on the skin:
Ladies, sunscreen is not a set-it-and-forget-it kind of deal. All skin tones, from the fairest to the deepest, must reapply sunscreen to maintain proper sun protection. Reapply every two hours when out in the sun and after swimming, taking care not to forget the back of your hands, top of your ears, and top of your feet, as they are also exposed to the sun and can wear off quickly.
The best tip to protect your skin from the sun? Limit your time in it! Unfortunately, you probably don’t want to hide inside all summer long to avoid the effects of the sun — and I don’t blame you. While it might be tough to totally restrict your time in the sun this summer, you can take strides to avoid peak hours between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. when the sun’s UV rays are the strongest.
We all love summer for the opportunity to finally shed the clunky sweaters and thick pants we wore all winter. Though it’s hard to resist the chance to strip down when the temperature heats up, try to find a few photoprotective clothing items you love, like UV-protectant long-sleeved shirts and pants. Grab your favorite big hat and sunglasses to complete the look and protect your skin!
The above tips are incredibly useful to protect the skin, but they cannot reverse existing signs of sun damage. See a dermatologist as soon as possible if you notice an unusual growth, such as a raised bump, open sore, or scaly skin patch. Regardless of your skin tone, you should always seek professional advice if you believe you may have experienced any degree of sun damage.
Your darker skin deserves the proper protection from the sun’s harmful rays. As you prepare for a summer of healthy, glowing skin, join me in the Christine Byer Beauty Club for personalized skin support and exclusive savings on industry-leading products. With a free 14-day preview that features full access to everything in the club, I guarantee you won’t regret signing up today!
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