5 Reasons Your Dark Skin Still Needs Sunscreen

Sunscreen is probably the best anti-aging defense available for your skin. This is because it protects the skin from the sun’s ultraviolet (invisible) rays that cause oxidative and DNA damage.

In addition to the visible light we get from the sun, we also get invisible rays UVA and UVB. UVA (think A for Aging) can penetrate deep into the skin and cause premature aging, sun spots, and hyperpigmentation. UVB (think B for Burn) is the invisible ray that causes sunburn and tends to damage the skin's more superficial layers, it also plays a key role in the formation of skin cancer cells.

Here are 5 reasons to wear sunscreen:

  1. To protect from UVA rays that cause premature aging. The skin is made up of a dense matrix of proteins called collagen and elastin, and as we age, this matrix gets thinner, and wrinkles and fine lines emerge. Turns out that this process is dramatically sped up by exposure to the sun. Researchers have found that the effect of ultraviolet (UV) radiation accounts for about 90% of visible skin aging.

  2. To protect form UV rays that cause skin cancer. Skin cancer may not always be a top concern for people with darker skin because we have more melanin. The truth is that melanin does offer some protection from UVB rays, but it is by no means full proof and it does not protect from the sun’s UVA rays.

  3. To prevent post inflammatory hyperpigmentation. These are the dark spots that stay on after acne has healed. When inflamed skin (acne) is exposed to UVA rays, melanin forming cells in the skin are stimulated to produce excess melanin. After the acne has healed, the skin in the afflicted area becomes darker than its surrounding skin. Wearing broad-spectrum sunscreen prevents this hyperpigmentation.

  4. To protect delicate skin if you are using any chemical exfoliants like retinol (vitamin A), alpha hydroxy acids, or vitamin C product. These are ingredients that exfoliate the skin, resulting in the exposure of layers of younger skin. This new skin is more sensitive to sunlight and must be protected. Even if you are using your chemical exfoliant at night, it is essential to use a broad spectrum sunscreen during the day.

  5. To maintain a clear and even skin tone. An uneven complexion can be the outcome of sun exposure as the skin can develop hyperpigmentation after as little as 5-10 minutes in the sun. Wearing sunscreen routinely prevents dark spots from forming.

    Now is the time to establish a routine

    If you are in your 20’s, you are probably not thinking about aging in general. Our advice to you is to start protecting your skin now because sun damage is cumulative.

    If you are in your 30's and can only buy 1 skin care item, buy sunscreen.

    If you are in your 40's or older and are starting to worry about fine line and or wrinkles, there is no time like the present! Get on it. Wear sunscreen every day.

    What to look out for in your sunscreen

    1. Broad spectrum means you get protection from both UVA & UVB
    2. SPF 30 is the sweet spot - an SPF 15 gives you 93% protection, SPF 30 gives you about 97% protection, and SPF 50 gives you about 98% protection from the sun's UVB rays.

    Picking the right sunscreen can be a bit challenging for people of color since not all ingredients work well with our skin tones. Our Brightening Moisturizer SPF 30 is lightweight, goes on clear, and works great with or without makeup.

    Be sure to wear sunscreen all year round even on cloudy days. If you are indoors but sitting by a window, also wear sunscreen because UVA rays go through glass.  Seek shade whenever possible and wear a wide-brimmed hat when you are out in the sun.