It is a common myth that Black women don't need to wear sunscreen. "Black doesn't crack!"; "My skin doesn't burn, so why would I wear sunscreen?" is what is usually heard. But all skin can burn. Granted, if you have darker brown skin, you may not need as high of a SPF, than someone with fairer skin because you have more melanin in your skin for natural protection. Still the extra melanin doesn't guard against UV damage that deepens dark spots, accelerates aging and causes cancer.
Therefore here is our guide to all things sunscreen:
30 is the magic number. For everyday sunscreen, a SPF 30 that is broad-spectrum is recommended. It will guarantee really good coverage. There is very little difference between SPF 30 and SPF 100, but the percentage of coverage starts to drop off once you go below SPF 30.
UVA & UVB rays. There are several different types of rays that come out of the sun. The ones that affect us the most are Ultraviolet A (UVA) and Ultraviolet B (UVB). UVB are the classic sun rays that burn the skin and are well blocked by sunscreen. UVA rays don't burn the skin, but if you have dark spots, it causes them to deepen more and these rays also cause skin cancer. Sunscreen alone blocks partial UVA rays. For full protection, you should wear a hat, sunglasses, and sit under the shade.
Hats, head scarves, or sunglasses are essential. Wearing a scarf is not only stylish, but it protects your scalp. While hats protect your scalp, face, neck and chest. Hats also protect from UVA rays. For the eyes, the best protection is a pair of sunglasses.
Reapply. If you're at the beach, pool, doing outdoor activities and sweating, you should reapply every 2-3 hours. If you're out during the day, say just running errands, then you should apply once in the morning and again in the afternoon. And don't forget often forgotten places, like ears, chest and neck. These areas get a lot of exposure.
Protect your lips. Make sure you are putting something on your lips with sunscreen. Lips get a lot of sun exposure and are a high risk area for skin cancer.
Formula. A cream based formula is a go-to for your face and body, but sunscreen sprays are very convenient for the body. Make sure you apply it indoors or risk it blowing away in the breeze.
Sensitive Skin. Those with sensitive skin should look for products that either have zinc or titanium, or both. Check the label under active ingredients to see if it says zinc or titanium, or both. If these aren't mentioned, put it back on the shelf, even if it says it's for sensitive skin.
Treating sunburn. For our fairer skin women, you have a higher chance of getting a sunburn. Your skin is going to be hot and painful, so the key is too cool it down. Take a cool bath and use a pure aloe gel which cools the skin and acts as an anti-inflammatory. Also drink a lot of water because sunburns can be dehydrating. For peeling, use a light, non-fragrant moisturizer to help treat it gingerly.
Products to Try:
UNSUN Everyday Mineral Tinted Face Sunscreen
Black Girl Sunscreen SPF 30