Myths About the Sun for Women of Color
There are many myths about skin care when it comes to women of color, particularly when it comes to the sun and its ultraviolet rays and sun protection. Many people (including those who are of different ethnicities) are under the assumption that because their skin is dark or darker than those with fair complexions they do not need to worry about burns or sun protection. The rationale being that because their skin is melanin-rich they will not tan or burn. However, that is indeed a myth and a false sense of security.
Everyone needs to protect their skin from the harmful effects of the sun. African American, Hispanic and other races who have dark skin can and will still burn and can even potentially be at risk for skin cancer caused from UV rays and other environmental attacks. Darker skin is indeed richer with melanin but that melanin can only protect so much. Additionally, dark skin will tan just like those of Caucasian decent, but perhaps they may be happy with their natural color and do not want to get their skin any darker. But more importantly, even the darkest of skin will burn with too much unprotected sun. After all, melanin may be somewhat of a sun protection factor…but remember spf is only a number. For instance, if we use a sunscreen that provides an SPF of 15 we will still have to reapply at some point in order to maintain the protection so if you look at it that way…there will inevitably come a time in which too much sun is simply too much sun, for anyone.
In addition to the problem at hand (meaning the risks of not using any sun block or sun protection), there are other factors which contribute to health issues related to the sun such as skin cancer. And there are reports that not only suggest that those of dark heritage can indeed burn, the problem becomes exacerbated because many are less likely to have problems such as skin cancer diagnosed early as well as have a lower survival rate if they do indeed get a skin cancer such as melanoma.
I recently read an article about an African American woman who said she always protects her skin from the sun because she has indeed burned her skin in the past. She said she doesn’t like the dry, itchy peeling skin she has gotten in the past and has been an avid sunscreen user for herself as well as her children to keep them safe from the sun’s harmful and damaging rays. She knows first-hand that when it comes to protecting the skin of her family, the harmful summer rays certainly don’t discriminate!