Choosing a sunscreen that suits your skin makes sense, as long as this offers UVA and UVB protection, along with an SPF rating of at least 30.
People with darker skin can receive mistaken advice on sunscreen use, from not needing to bother, to how the sun affects their body and existing conditions.
Extra melanin levels in dark skin give a degree of protection but not sufficient to avoid harm. Depending on the colour of your skin, this is likely to be the equivalent of SPF 10 to 15, well below the recommended minimum.
Sunburn may not be prevented, or the possibility of skin cancers in the future and any current pigmentation issues could worsen. Part of an impact the sun’s UV rays are able to have on all areas of our skin.
Melasma is a condition which can appear across a breadth of skin tones, bringing brown, or grey patches. A number of helpful treatments do exist but first on the list in the majority of cases is sunscreen.
Hyperpigmentation and discoloration are prominent amongst issues we see on darker skin. Patients want to achieve an even skin tone and again, whilst there are great treatments available, sun protection will play a part.
The same applies to acne, pimples, moles, scarring and more. They naturally need the right care, yet visual symptoms can be worsened by sun exposure, or the efficacy of treatment you undergo may be reduced.
We could add signs of ageing into the mix, or discomfort from sunburn. This can be less evident in dark skin but the hot feeling on your skin, tightening, tenderness, or peeling may still be there.
If you have an existing condition, your dermatologist is likely to have explained the value of using good quality sunscreen. Protective clothing will also help, along with choosing times to be in the sun.
Even if you are currently healthy, the same plan should apply. Not realising you are becoming sunburnt is easier with darker skin, which could stop you from getting out of the sun, leading to further damage.
Over a period, the sun can cause discoloration in any skin tone. This is unwelcome, as are potential medical issues and to a fair degree, both are preventable.
Why Sunscreen Matters
Post inflammatory hyperpigmentation can be confused with other issues, such as acne scarring. In darker skin, the cells producing melanin tend to be more active and alongside reacting to fading from a lesion, they react to the sun.
Where needed, treating the condition which caused the lesion is important, perhaps any skin tone change this brought. Both aspects will be more successful if the situation is not worsened by sun exposure.
Nobody would suggest the majority of us need to entirely stay away from the sun. This can be truly pleasurable but blotchy skin, worsening conditions, or skin cancer in the life ahead are not a pleasure.
Amidst the sophisticated toolkit science has made available for dermatology on darker skin, sunscreen deserves a high place on the list.