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There is a widespread misconception that people with olive or dark complexion don’t need sun protection because of their high amounts of melanin. Melanin is a dark brown-black pigment responsible for the color of skin, hair and iris of the eye. Although it is true that people with dark skin tones are more protected from the harmful rays of the sun than people with lighter ski tones, the protection, however, is not sufficient. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, African Americans have natural sun protection of up to SPF 13 compared to a SPF 4 for Caucasians. Below are a few reasons why you should be wearing sunscreen even if you are a person of color.
Skin of color also gets sunburn
Another widespread misconception is that black people don’t get sunburn. Due to this misconception many dark complexion individuals do not use any sun protection. It may be true that a person of color has more melanin but it doesn’t mean he or she will not get sunburn. High levels of melanin only mean that a person of color can stay longer in the sun without getting sun burnt. For example, if a Caucasian person gets sunburn in 10 minutes, a person with dark skin will be able to avoid sunburn for 50-60 minutes. Multiple sunburns over a long time period will also increase the chances of skin cancer. It is therefore prudent to use at least SPF 30 sunscreen before going out in the sun, even if you are a person of color.
People of color are not naturally protected against Skin Cancer
Another reason that you should use sunscreen is because you are not protected against skin cancer. A dark skinned person may be able to stay longer in the sun without getting sunburn but it does not protect you from the damages cause by UV rays. The long wave UV-A rays can penetrate deeper than UV-B rays, even in dark skin and may cause cancerous growth. Researches have shown that the possibility of skin cancer is 1 out of 5 in Caucasians and 1 out of 1000 in people of color. The numbers may look pale in comparison to white people but the bigger picture is still alarming. There are more deaths among people of color due to skin cancer compared to Caucasian people, because skin cancer is diagnosed at later and matured stage. Melanoma was the cause of death of the famous music icon, Bob Marley at the age of 36. You should not take the risk of skin cancer lightly even if you have an olive or a dark complexion. Regular use of sunscreen can lower the chances of skin cancer by 97-98%.
Age Spots, Wrinkles and Rich Complexions
People of color are blessed as the signs of ageing and wrinkles don’t show as early as they show up on the skin of Caucasians. This is because high amounts of melanin absorbs the harmful UV rays and protect our collagen. It results in a thicker skin and better protection against age spots and wrinkles. The melanin and collagen may lose their effectiveness with age and wrinkles may start to appear on skin of color if proper steps are not taken to protect it from sun damage. Wearing sunscreen protects our collagen fibers and keeps them intact. If you desire healthy and great looking skin, it’s important to use a sunscreen of at least SPF-30. It will absorb the harmful UV-A and UV-B rays and thus offering you protection from both skin cancer and photo ageing.
To maintain healthy and great looking complexion, use your broad spectrum sunscreen daily.