Are you under the impression that, thanks to your skin tone, you don’t really need to wear sunscreen? We hate to be the bearers of bad news but the evidence is clear: damaging UV rays can penetrate all skin types and tones.
The biggest misconceptions
Unfortunately, we have been conditioned to believe that this is not the case. For example, when was the last time you saw a dark-skinned family lathering on the sun protection before a beach trip on TV? It is true that darker complexions naturally produce melanin, and that fewer UV rays can penetrate skin tones with more melanin. This is the same logic that has led to the concept of building a base tan to ‘protect’ lighter skin prior to a holiday. However, this is where the biggest misconception lies: rather than a layer of protection, it is actually a layer of sun damage. Additionally, time in the sun will accelerate ageing in all skin tones and types – albeit a little differently depending on your complexion. Over time, sun exposure will make lighter skin tones see more fine lines and wrinkles, and for darker tones, there is often a loss of volume in the skin and changes in pigmentation that lead to dark patches and uneven skin tone.
What should you look for in your sun protection?
Regardless of your complexion, using an SPF 30 or above, at least 15 minutes before going outside, with reapplication every two hours, is recommended. If you are out exercising, swimming or sweating, more frequent reapplication is recommended as well. Always opt for a sunscreen that offers broad-spectrum protection as this will protect you from both UVA and UVB rays, which is a must. As melanin is not consistent throughout the body, make sure you apply it yourself, preferably before getting dressed, and don’t forget delicate areas such as your ears, palms and the soles of your feet!
A sunscreen that does not leave an ashy, white cast!
One challenge which is especially faced by those with darker complexions is finding a sunscreen that does not leave an ashy, white cast. We are all looking for sun protection which sinks into the skin lightly and without a trace. Lastly, while it does seem counter-intuitive to cover up especially in our climate here in the Gulf, clothing is also guaranteed to protect your skin. Regardless of how you choose to keep your skin protected, just remember that the sun’s rays are not selective!