Written by Chanler Brown
It’s a blistering summer day. The air is sticky and wet, and you planned a trip with friends to the beach. You crave the smell of saltwater in your nostrils, hot sand between your toes, and the full atmosphere of other tanning hopefuls. In your bag, you packed the essentials: lip balm, money, and water—you forgo applying sunscreen because you don’t burn, except your skincan still experience damage.
Individuals with higher levels of melanin are less likely to burn than those who have lower concentrations of it, but the risk of acquiring a sunburn or developing sun damage after prolonged exposure is a real threat. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, 86% of melanoma cases are due to exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun, and a person’s risk for melanoma doubles if they had more than five mild sunburns or one blistering sunburn in their lifetime.
While the probability of being diagnosed with skin cancer whilst having a darker complexion is less likely than an individual with paler skin, it can still occur with devastating results. The five-year survival rate for melanoma patients for Black people is 70% while it’s 94% for White people. The use of an SPF sunscreen with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide can help prevent these effects; however, it’s not a magic fix for skin damage. The best way to protect your skin is the use of a preliminary measure,such as a sunscreen, and cover up as much as possible.
Sunscreen acts as a protective layer against harmful UVAand UVB rays that causes sunburn, skin cancer, and skin damage such as sunspots and aging of the skin. As stated by the The Skin Cancer Foundation, SPF 15 with a Daily Use Seal of Recommendation should be used daily to help prevent irreversible effects by everyone, regardless of skin color. When exposed to the sun for longer periods of time, a higher concentration and water-resistant SPF 30 or higher with an Active Seal of Recommendation should be used. It’s best to apply approximately an ounce of sunscreen to your whole body30-minutes before going outside and reapply every two hourswith extended activity.
To avoid the white or greyish mask most sunscreens leave on darker complexions, it’s suggested to use EltaMD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46 for $36, NeoStrata Sheer Hydration SPF 35 for $52, and Unsun Mineral Tinted Sunscreen SPF 30 for $29. EltaMD is highly recommended by dermatologists as it’s safe for acne prone skin and fades dark marks. NeoStratahelps with hyperpigmentation and is lightweight. Unsun is a tinted formula with a broad spectrum of protection.
While sunscreen can lower one’s risk of skin cancer by 40% with daily wear, it’s not an end-all-be-all fix. The best way to avoid skin damage is to apply sunscreen and cover sensitive or damaged areas by protecting the face and neck with wide brimmed hats, staying in the shade when possible, using sunglasses, and wearing clothing that covers the region. The best method to protect your skin is to avoid the sun as much as possible without eliminating your vitamin D intake.
Moreover, be aware that not all sunscreens are right for all skin types in terms of varying sensitivities and allergies. It’s recommended to understand what sunscreens work the best with what skin type and act accordingly as other skin irritations may occur.Sunscreen may aid with the reduction of age spots and lines, but it doesn’t prevent nor work in place of other antiaging methods.
It’s easy to skip applying sunscreen because it’s not a problem that directly affects you or you believe the sun’s aftereffects won’t happen to you, but it’s important to be prepared, especially as the weather warms and outside activities increase. Always protect yourself with sunscreen and spend your time outside in the sun wisely, your skin will thank you.