Photo by monkeybusinessimages/iStock / Getty Images

Photo by monkeybusinessimages/iStock / Getty Images

By: Rechelle Dennis

So if your like me you’ve probably been tricked into thinking that highly pigmented skin doesn’t really require sunscreen. Yes, we’ve been duped,decieved, manipulated and bamboozled, because that is far from the truth. Although darker complexions can have a natural SPF of up to 13, health experts suggest that regardless of skin tone we should all be using a minimum of SPF 30 to protect us from the suns harmful rays. Wrinkles, sunspots, loss of skin elasticity and hyper-pigmentation are all by products of improper sun protection but also the least severe. Researchers at the University of Cincinnati found that people with darker complexions were more likely to die from skin cancer then those of a lighter complexion, due to the fact the cancer was often caught far too late. While we can partially blame this phenomenon on inaccurate stereotypes about skin with high counts of melanin, it is time to educate ourselves on the real repercussions of not wearing sunscreen. We are not immune to sunburn or skin cancer just because we have higher pigmented skin. In fact we are putting ourselves at more risk by not protecting ourselves from the suns harmful rays by enabling these misconceptions.

The form of sunscreen you use is your preference as they come in many forms such as gels, creams and sticks. It takes a bit of sunscreen knowledge to find the most efficient product for you!

🌞Below are some key terms that can help you choose the right sunscreen🌞

UVA: Present all day and year-round UVA rays are a long wave light, the most dangerous and accounts for about 95% of UV light that reaches our skin. Known as a silent killer you cannot feel the damage being caused as you would in a UVB ray. Not only does it penetrate the skin further than UVB rays but it destroys the skins elasticity and firmness. It is the leading cause of wrinkles and skin cancer.

UVB: At much shorter wavelengths in comparison to UVA, UVB rays are physically more damaging to the skin. As the main culprit of sunburn and discoloration (hello, hyper-pigmentation and sunspots), UVB rays are present year round, however more present in sunny climates and its peak between the months of April and October.

Sun Protection Factor (SPF): A measure of how a sunscreen will protect you from UVB rays which causes sunburn and other skin complications. Dermatologists recommend everyone regardless of age or skin complexion use a water-resistant sunscreen of SPF 30 or more. Yes, your lips need protection too so make sure to find a bomb lip balm or gloss with SPF 30!

Broad Spectrum: Means the sunscreen has been tested to protect you from both UVA and UVB rays. A broad spectrum sunscreen is highly recommended by dermatologists to help protect you from the suns harmful rays.

Physical Sunscreens: Reflects UVA and UVB Rays preventing them from hitting the skin at all contain the active ingredients zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide. However, some physical sunscreens do tend to leave white residue which can make darker skin tones look ashy.

Chemical Sunscreens: Absorbs UVA and UVB Rays to the skin, but transforms theses rays into non-damaging wavelengths of light and heat. Chemical sunscreens contain one or more of the following active ingredients: oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate and octinoxate. However, many of these chemicals can be hazardous with the most toxic chemical being oxybenzone. Oxybenzone has been cautioned for its ability to cause allergic reactions. This type of sunscreen is not only easier to rub in but also prevents that icky white residue that makes darker complexions look ashy.

*While studies are conducted on more effective and accurate ingredients in sun protection it is important to understand the ingredients present in each product. We have listed some of our references below for you to further research what exactly to look for to stay protected from the sun.