One common misconception, myth, rumor (whatever you want to call it) I heard growing up was that black people don't need sunscreen because of melanin. Looking back, I never wore it. Which is scary when I think of how many summers as a kid were spent camping, fishing, and by the water.
WHY MELANIN NEEDS SPF...
The truth is, just because you don't burn doesn't mean you aren't experiencing skin damage. The sun emits two types of ultraviolet (UV) radiation: Ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB).
UVA rays penetrate the second layer of the skin, causes wrinkles, skin aging and sun spots. UVB rays affect skin’s top layer, cause sunburns, damages the skin's DNA and causes skin cancer.
Some of you are probably thinking "WeLl My LoTiOn/MoIsTuRiZeR HaS SpF In It" And while that is a great quality to look for in everyday products, the SPF in those are only sufficient for everyday activities lasting a few minutes at a time. For longer sun exposure, a stronger, more water resistant SPF is needed. FYI: Water resistant SPFs stick to the skin preventing the product from seeping from the skin and dripping into the eyes and other unpleasant areas.
You should also be reapplying your sunscreen while you are out. Most bottles have the amount of time the SPF is good before needed another application. If they don't it is generally recommended to reapply every 2 hours and immediately after getting out of the water.
MELANIN FRIENDLY SPF...
I wish I had known all of this when I was in college declining the sunscreen my fairer skinned friends passed around. I figured I didn't need it and wanted to avoid that ghostly white cast. Luckily, for all of us there are now tons of sunscreen options out there for the melanin infused.
Here are a few SPFs that have passed the white cast test and are highly recommended:
Now that you've had a crash course in sunscreen, go forth and enjoy the sun... the safe way!
P.S. One thing you may want to keep in mind when looking for the perfect SPF is whether the product is a Chemical or Physical. Chemical sunscreens use chemical active ingredients that absorb and dissipate UVA/UVB rays, while physical sunscreens use mineral active ingredients like Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide to scatter and reflect UVA/UVB rays.
By Violet Banks