African Americans Need Sunscreen Too (Dark Skin Tones)

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October 5, 2015

african-americans-need-sunscreen-too-dark-skin-tones

Whoever said black people don’t burn from the sun, obviously haven’t sat in hot heat with dark skin tones. Let me tell you, African Americans turn colors too, and the results from sunburn can be quite long lasting and painful . Why risk it? The use of sunscreen is necessary. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends routine use of a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or greater for all people regardless of skin color.

Skin color is determined by the number, distribution and type of pigment-producing cells (melanocytes) in the skin. Dermatologists refer to the degrees of pigmentation in skin as “skin types.” Skin types range from very little pigment (type 1) to very darkly pigmented (type 6).

It is true that dark skin provides some protection against sun damage. People with light skin types have a much higher incidence of skin cancer than do people with dark skin types. But dark skin is not a guarantee against skin cancer. People with dark skin, hair and eyes can, and do, get skin cancer. Particularly vulnerable areas include under the fingernails and toenails, on the palms of the hands and on the soles of the feet where skin is lighter.

Like those with light skin, people with dark skin are also at risk of premature skin aging from excessive exposure to the sun. This includes wrinkles and mottled or uneven skin pigment.

DETERMINE YOUR SKIN TYPE

Skin Type

I
II
III
IV
V
VI
Hair
Red, Blonde
Blonde, Red, Light Brown
Chestnut, Dark Blonde
Dark Brown
Dark Brown
Black
Eyes
Blue, Gray, Green
Blue, Gray, Green, Hazel
Brown, Blue, Gray, Green, Hazel
Brown
Brown
Brown
Skin
Very Pale, Reddish
Pale
White, Light Brown
Dark Brown
Dark Brown
Black
Tanning Ability
Burns Easily, Never Tans
Burns Easily, Tans Minimally
Sometimes Burns, Gradually Tans
Tans Easily
Tans Easily and Dark
Tans Easily and Gets Darker

Sunscreen should be applied daily to dry skin about 15 to 30 minutes before going outdoors. Products that are most resistant to being washed off by sweating or bathing should be selected. Water-resistant sunscreens protect skin for 40 minutes of water exposure whereas waterproof sunscreens protect for 80 minutes. Gels work well for oily skin or when sweating. Lotions help dry skin and sprays work best on the body. Stick-type sunscreens that are formulated for use on the lips can also be applied around the eyes to avoid the eye irritation that often occurs when other products are applied to this area. Stick-type sunscreens can also be used to gain maximum sun protection to the ears.

HOW DO I KNOW WHICH SUNSCREEN TO USE?

It is said that SPF 15 sunscreen blocks 92% of UVB rays while an SPF 30 product blocks 96% of the UVB rays. The chart below will help you determine your skin type and the SPF sunscreen protection that you need. Take a look at how long you think you will out in the sun. Then match up the columns with your skin type.

Skin Type

I
II
III
IV
V
VI
1 hour in sun
SPF 15 or higher
SPF 8 or higher
SPF 8 or higher
SPF 6 or higher
SPF 4 or higher
SPF 4 or higher
2 hours in sun
SPF 30 or higher
SPF 15 or higher
SPF 15 or higher
SPF 8 or higher
SPF 6 or higher
SPF 4 or higher
3 hours in sun
SPF 30 or higher
SPF 30 or higher
SPF 15 or higher
SPF 15 or higher
SPF 8 or higher
SPF 6 or higher
4 hours in sun
SPF 40 or higher
SPF 30 or higher
SPF 30 or higher
SPF 30 or higher
SPF 15 or higher
SPF 8 or higher
5 or more hours in sun
SPF 50 or higher
SPF 40 or higher
SPF 30 or higher
SPF 30 or higher
SPF 30 or higher
SPF 15 or higher

Keep in mind that everyone’s skin is different. This is only meant to be a general guideline. You should determine your own skin type and choose products accordingly. Use common sense and try products for brief periods of time in the sun to avoid over exposure and/or sunburn.

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