The sun and the dark skin.

English: Young black woman (cropped version)
English: Young black woman (cropped version) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I recently met up with an old mate I used to know since we were teens back in Nigeria, we had a good catch up and then moved on to chats about the weather and how we will never get to wear dresses this year with all the stuff our great British weather has been delivering lately. Into our conversation, I casually mentioned that I had already bought suncream for my family in time for summer. With great shock on her face, she said ‘you use sun protection?’ and she continued, ‘isn’t sun protection for white people alone?’ Of course my response to her was equally dramatic, ‘say what woman?!’ ‘Sun protection is for all types of skin and skin colour’. I am not surprised at her reaction because I have seen so many people with similar attitude towards black skin and sun skincare. Perhaps stronger awareness from the national health may help to educate the ethnic minorities about protecting themselves and their families from UV damages and skin cancer.

There is a misconception that black people are immune to skin cancer because of the generous amount of epidemic melanin in darker skin, thus many dark -skinned people are leaving their skin exposed to skin cancer. This perception is untrue and dangerous. Although the increased melanin on darker and I mean black skin provides a natural sun protection, it is only an SPF of 13 which isn’t enough to protect the skin from longer exposure of sun’s harmful UV rays. We need at least SPF 15 to give our dark skin the protection it needs under the sun. My family consists of white and black people and we all needed to protect our skin from sun damage. And yes not even my beautiful melanin filled dark skin can withstand damages from the sun.

What about people in Africa?

I grew up in Africa and I have spent all those years underneath the beautiful sunshine without any worries about the damages on my skin. And I have never seen anyone with sun damaged skin except for the albinos, which was understandable because they were very fair. More also, I suspect that skin cancer and sun damage may be under reported as so many other diseases in Africa or the skin may have become so used to the climate.
However in South Africa where there is winter and summer seasons: More cases of skin cancer are coming out of the wood works. Presumably, sun damage may have more effect on dark- skinned people who live in countries with hot and cold season.
Skin changes or damages on fair skinned people are noticeable and you can easily tell by the redness of the skin however it’s very difficult to see such damages on dark skin unless you looked very closely. Therefore people with darker skin must be aware that they are also at risk of skin cancer and must use blockers as well as regular skin checks.

My skin

I started using Sunscreen since I came to England in 2002, during the summer; I noticed that my skin darkened significantly with different shades of brown here and there. I hated the uneven skin tone and I knew straight away that the sun was to blame. I remembered asking my ex husband if the sun was different from the one in Africa because I had never seen such a reaction to sun on my skin when I lived in Nigeria. I believed that the darkening of my skin in the hot summer was the same as redness on a white/ fair skin and an evidence of some damage on my skin. Dark skin may have natural protection but without sun protection, skin will be affected over time.

My sun care.

During summer, I use Sunscreen SPF 30 on my face and SPF 50 on my body. And SPF 30 sensitive ONCE (from Boots) on my children who are also very dark-skinned like myself. There are invisible Sunscreen which are my favourite because they blend into your skin without the horrible white streaks.

The rationale for this post is to create awareness of sun damages/skin cancer on dark skin and encourage people to protect their skin during the hot season.
I hope that the sun comes out soon and shines fabulously for us all. Have a great weekend.

From Jane with ♥

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4 Replies to “The sun and the dark skin.”

  1. Insightful post Jane. I’ve never bothered to use sunscreen on my dark skin because I didn’t think I needed to. But after reading this, I’m going to. Thanks for sharing 🙂


    1. Thanks a lot for your comment Debra. I apologize for approving your comment so late. I have been unwell and very busy soon as I recovered. Gonna visit you soon for what’s new. Glad to be back:-)


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