Melanin and Sunscreen: What You Need To Know

Melanin and Sunscreen: What You Need to Know:

“No thanks, I don’t burn,” is something we hear or say way too often when offered sunscreen. But is it really true that some people just don’t burn? Although many people believe it to be true, no matter what your gender, ethnicity, or color, the sun’s UV rays can harm your skin.

The Myth

Dermatologist, Dr. Jeanie Downie, explained “many people believe that because they have melanin in their skin, it completely protects them from the sun.” These individuals believe that if they can’t see redness on the skin, they can’t be hurt by the sun. And while there is some truth behind this myth, full protection from the sun is not possible.

Yes, you read that right. There is some truth behind this myth. This is because people with darker skin tones naturally produce more melanin, which allows fewer UV rays to penetrate their skin. Medium dark skin actually blocks out nearly twice as many UV rays as white skin. But while this added melanin can block UV rays and protect your body from quick burns, it can also be harmful to your body. As more melanin is added to your body to achieve your new color, this “tan” is actually a sign of sun damage to your body and to your skin cells, which can cause premature aging, burns, and even cancer.

Melanin and Sunscreen: What You Need to Know:

The Risks

Skin Cancer

Because of the skin cell damage the sun causes, one of the major risks of not wearing sunscreen is skin cancer. In 2016 there were 4.2 million cases of skin cancer. And although the chances of getting skin cancer are much lower in people of color, it can be even more dangerous since it is harder to find and identify. However, this changes drastically in those that use bleaching agents to bleach their skin.

Since skin cancer is less prevalent in people of color, dermatology appointments tend to be scheduled less frequently. This means that the early signs of skin cancer such as freckles, scabs, or skin discoloration go unnoticed. Along with this, African-Americans tend to develop skin cancer in places that get little sun exposure such as the bottoms of feet and palms. This again makes the cancer more difficult to find, which leads to people with more melanin being diagnosed at a later stage, leading to a greater chance of mortality for people of color with this disease.

Make sure you use sunscreen and check your whole body for new freckles, even under your nails, to make sure you stay safe and healthy!

Early Aging

Another way the skin cell damage will affect you is through early aging. Sun damage can lead to wrinkles, skin sagging, loss of volume in the face, and hyperpigmentation, leading to dark patches and uneven skin. Make sure you wear your sunscreen in the summer sun to keep your picture perfect look.

Melanin and Sunscreen: What You Need to Know:

Benefits of Sunscreen

While avoiding premature aging, dark spots, burns, and skin cancer are all very strong arguments for using sunscreen daily, there seem to be endless benefits to using this magic liquid.

Healthy Skin

Applying sunscreen every day not only helps to avoid harming your skin, but also nourishes your skin. We have many essential proteins in our skin such as collagen, keratin, and elastin, which are all protected by sunscreen. This allows our skin to feel smooth, nourished, and healthy.

Better Protection

Sunscreen can actually protect your skin more than long sleeves and long pants. A cotton dress offers your body virtually no protection from the sun and its strong UV rays. Make sure to apply sunscreen under your clothes too!

Melanin and Sunscreen: What You Need to Know:

Best Sun-Protection Methods

Your Number

The American Academy of Dermatology recommends that everyone, regardless of his or her skin color, apply sunscreen with an SPF 30 or higher, and make sure to reapply every two hours or after swimming or working out. Skin Cancer Foundation makes it easy to find exactly what you number should be.

Pretty and Perfect

We know that many people avoid sunscreen for beauty reasons. Maybe you don’t want the white liquid to show up against your skin? Maybe you don’t like the smell? Or maybe you already applied your makeup and don’t want to ruin it by applying your sunscreen after. While these might have worked as an excuse years ago, this is no longer and excuse today.

Sunblock comes in a huge variety of shapes, sizes, colors, and formulas. If you want to avoid the white or ashy look, try a colored sunscreen or an oil- or water-based sunscreen that will blend perfectly into your skin tone. If time is your problem, opt for a moisturizer or foundation with SPF to eliminate an extra step in the morning. It is quite wise to incorporate hair and skin care products that are made with natural sun protection for year-round protection. And if you don’t want to ruin your perfect makeup, try out a powdered sunscreen to leave you looking flawless all day.

Melanin and Sunscreen: What You Need to Know: