Black skin has an inbuilt SPF so sunscreen is not necessary.
How many times have you heard that? Too many, unfortunately. It’d be great if that were true, but sadly, it’s just a myth. One that, if believed, could be deadly. So, why is it so widespread? Well, like all believable myths, it has some true in it.
Inbuilt SPF doesn’t provide adequate sun protection
Black skin really has an inbuilt SPF of between 8 and 16 (depending on how dark it is), which protects it from some of the damage caused by UV rays. The problem is that SPF 15 only filters about 92% of UVB rays. That’s a high percentage and it may seem enough to provide adequate protection, but it’s not. The rays that get through and hit the skin will, overtime, cause dark spots, premature aging, and even cancer. However, the inbuilt SPF does mean that you can use a sunscreen with a lower SPF, such as 15 or 30 rather than 35 or 50. It also means that you may reapply it less often than the recommended two hours (but don’t leave it too long, of course!). But you still need to use sunscreen everyday.
Black skin isn’t immune to sunburn
A sunburn conjures up images of pale skin, all red and peeling. But dark skin can get sunburned too. It’s a bit trickier to detect, because dark skin doesn’t become red. But it does experiences all the other symptoms: it is hot to the touch, painful, feels tight and peels. Sure, it is more difficult for black people to get a sunburn, but the risk, especially if you spend a lot of time outdoors when the sun is burning hot in the sky, is there. And even just a sunburn can increase your chances of developing skin cancer.
Skin cancer is rarer, but more deadly in dark-skinned people
Did you know that there are many types of skin cancer? Dark-skinned people are less likely to develop some of them, but are not immune to skin cancer. And when they do develop melanoma, they are more likely to die from it. Why? In black people, melanoma tends to show up on more lightly pigmented areas, such as the palms of the hands, the soles of the feet, and even the fingernail bed. Because not many people are aware of this, they tend to be diagnosed later, when the cancer has already spread to other areas, and is so much more difficult to cure. So, be sure to wear sunscreen on all areas of your body exposed to the sun and, once a year, go to your dermatologist for a skin cancer screening.
The Bottom Line
Although dark skin has inbuilt SPF, it is not high enough to offer adequate protection against premature aging, sun spots, sunburns and cancer. So, wear sunscreen daily. Be safe, not sorry!
Do you have dark skin? If so, do you wear sunscreen every day?