Now that the sun is out and the temperatures are reaching all-time highs, it is important that we all protect ourselves and our skin from damaging effects of the weather. I grew up in Phoenix, Arizona where it was 110 degrees in the shade, and never once did my parents tell me that I needed to wear sunscreen. It was assumed that being a girl of color, I couldn’t get sunburned or sun damage or skin cancer because my skin was darker—but of course I know better now that I am an adult.
I am not sure how I lasted several summers in the Arizona sun without any type of sunscreen or sun protection. We had a pool in my backyard, and I spent entire days being out in the pool swimming with my friends. I was in the sun all day everyday for the majority of the summer.
Two years ago, while being active all day outside, I experienced my first “known” case of sunburn—it was horrible. I had no idea I had sunburn until I consulted my physician. I thought the blisters and small bumps on my arms and face were “heat bumps” caused by me sweating heavily. I was advised that the bumps were my skin’s reaction to sunburn and was told that I needed to protect myself against damaging rays. I also had to wear sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.
Yes, black people do get sunburn!
The sun does not discriminate, even if your skin is of a darker tone. You can still get skin cancer, sunburn, and other sun or heat related conditions. It is important that darker skin toned people wear sunscreen for protection against the sun.
My daughter is attending summer sports camp this year and will be outside for most of the day, so she will not be leaving home without her sunscreen. For her, I have chosen a “clear no-rub” spray that is waterproof and won’t come off in the pool. You just spray it on and it will protect her against sunburn.
Here is a list of the recommended SPF for your skin tone:
Albino.Tan type: none. Red sunburn with pain, swelling and peeling. SPF 50.
White.Tan type: as above. Great risk of freckles. SPF 50.
Fair.Tan type: very light after minor pink or red burns. Some risk of freckles. SPF 30.
Fair.Tan type: light. Slight risk of freckles. SPF 30.
Slightly dark.Tan type: dark. SPF 30.
Slightly dark.Tan type: dark, with less risk of sunburn. SPF 15-20.
Dark.Tan type: very dark. SPF 8-15
Black.Tan type: black. SPF 8.
Read more about this list HERE.
Essence.com also has a wonderful list of sunscreens recommending for people of color.
Summertime is one of my favorite times of the year, but it’s only fun when you are staying healthy and making sure that you are protected against harmful UVA/UVB rays.
Yes, darker skin tones do need sunscreen!