The US Census Bureau projects that people with some shade or extra pigmentation will account for approximately 50 percent of the U.S. population by the year 2050. This group, which includes African Americans, Asians, Latinos, and other ethnicities, are more prone to certain skin conditions because of their genetic make-up. It’s especially important to educate these people with rich complexions about defending their skin daily from cancer and maintaining a healthy appearance.
More than one million Americans are diagnosed with skin cancer each year, and many more with pre-cancerous conditions. These numbers continue to increase, not only in the United States, but also worldwide. Despite the alarming increase in skin cancer, especially in the teen and young adult population, people of darker complexions continue to take a cavalier approach because of more melanin in their skin. This attitude is responsible for the belief that sunscreen is not needed or it’s an occasional summer-only accessory.
Perhaps the most important factor in the rise of skin cancer rates is increased exposure to the UVA wavelength. Compared with previous generations, fashion and holiday habits (sun worshipping) mean total exposure to UV is much higher, leaving today’s generation more vulnerable than ever. Previously thought of as harmless, this wavelength is now known to contribute significantly to skin damage, skin cancer, DNA damage and immune system suppression. UVA rays penetrate the skin deeper and, unlike UVB rays (which cause sun burn), damage from UVA rays is not immediately detected. Since UVA rays remain constant throughout the year and during the day, we are always exposed to them.
Many believe that deeper skin tones with melanin are immune to the damaging effects of sunlight like sunburn, skin cancer and premature aging of skin. Although a rich complexion is less sensitive to sunlight and rarely burns, unfortunately, with overexposure throughout your life, sun destroys collagen, can still damage and age your skin, and raises your chances of contracting skin cancer. Also the sun will intensify dark marks, discolorations or uneven skin tone and make them more difficult to get rid of. It is actually more important to avoid sunburn on brown skin, as it is oftentimes much more difficult in the long run to identify and treat skin issues caused by excessive sun exposure.
Overexposure to the sun can accelerate the skin’s aging process. UV rays tend to cause skin of richer complexions to develop pigment irregularities rather than to sag and wrinkle as with fairer complexions. This seemingly lack of obvious damage to pigmented skin can result in a false sense of security but in fact every hour of unprotected time in the sun is cumulative and harmful to all skin types. Every time you take a few minutes to keep your skin secure, it helps. Add a daily defense skin care routine to your life, and over the years, you will be so glad you did. Looking younger without protecting yourself from the sun is simply impossible.