Black night not crack but it can sunburn

June 9, 2022

It’s still common for African Americans to believe that they don’t need sunscreen as much as other ethnicities. However, while the melanin in black skin has some protective elements, it’s not enough to keep your skin from being damaged by the sun’s radiation. With the temperatures ticking up, it’s important to know how to protect your skin this summer from sunburn.

How the sun affects black skin

The melanin in black skin has been shown to offer some protection from the sun, but it’s far from enough. Without additiona lhelp, your skin can still burn if you’ve been in the sun for a while.

It’s not as easy to detect sunburn on darker skin with the naked eye, but there are a few signs to look out for. Your skin may feel hot to the touch, itchy, painful, or irritated. Over time, you might also see some stripping as the skin heals.

Some effects you might not see immediately include sagging, hyperpigmentation, and loss of volume in certain areas of the face. With hyperpigmentation, you can get dark spots in specific areas that have varying sizes. These dark spots can be particularly problematic because of how difficult it can be to effectively treat them in black skin.

Finally, persistent sun damage may significantly increase your risk of developing skin cancer. While people with darker skin are less likely to have skin cancer than those with lighter skin, it’s still a threat.

Statistics show that 1 in 100,000 African Americans gets diagnosed with skin cancer annually. When you consider that it’s more common for black people to be diagnosed at the later stages of the disease, you can see why it pays to protect your skin.

Tips for choosing sunscreen

There are different types of sunscreens and a wide variety of brands, but the question is – What are you supposed to be looking for?

Generally, you need to find one that has broad-spectrum coverage. The sun’s radiation is on both the Ultraviolet A (UVA) and Ultraviolet B (UVB) spectrums. They affect the skin differently, but you need to be protected from both.

When it comes to the level of protection you need, dermatologists recommend going for products that have SPF30 and above. Bear in mind that higher protection doesn’t mean you can just leave it on all day without re-application. If you’ve been in the sun for at least two hours, it’s time to put more sunscreen on.

The final consideration is choosing between a chemical or mineral-based sunscreen. Mineral sunscreens are considered to be physical barriers to the sun’s radiation as they deflect the UVA and UVB rays from the skin. These products usually contain zinc oxide or titanium oxide. The main issue Black people have with mineral sunscreens is the white or purple appearance that it leaves on their skin. Though there are a few options that don’t do this, you might need to search for those that are specifically designed for African Americans.

Chemical sunscreens, on the other hand, tend to be lighter in consistency and appearance – making them ideal for darker skin. There is some question about their longevity, though, so you may need to re-apply them more frequently.

Chemical sunscreens protect you by reacting with the sun’s radiation before they can damage your skin. Typically, the ingredients used include oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate, andoctinoxate. Again, it might be possible to find chemical sunscreens that are meant for people with darker skin.

When to see a dermatologist

If you’ve been going without sunscreen for a little while, it’s a good idea to see a dermatologist for a check-up. Depending on your skin, it can take a special instrument to detect the sun’s damage.

A quick visit to the dermatologist is also recommended if you’ve noticed any abnormalities in your skin or you feel that you’ve become more sensitive to the sun over time. Dermatologists can be great resources for finding your ideal sunscreen as well if you have sensitive skin or want a little more guidance about your options.

Whether you like it or not, black skin can definitely burn. If you spend prolonged periods in the sun without sunscreen, you’ll have an increased risk for skin damage as well as cancer. Even if you’ve been going without protection for years, there’s no time like the present to find the right sunscreen for you.

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