People of color often believe that they don't need to protect their skin from the dangerous ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun. For this reason, many people of color often don't use sunscreen or practice sun safety habits, and believe that they are not in danger of developing skin cancer or premature aging ("Black don't crack as the saying goes"). According to the skin-care experts, these beliefs are dangerous misconceptions because anyone can develop skin cancer, irregardless of race. UV rays from the sun and other factors such as tanning beds are the #1 cause of skin cancer. It is true that people of color (mainly referring to African Americans) do have more melanin in our skin; however, practicing sun safety tips is a must for all.
Melanin is the term used to describe the natural pigments found in the skin and is what's responsible for our skin color. Melanin is an effective absorbent of light and the pigment does provide some protection against UV radiation; therefore, darker skin individuals do get more protection from the dangers of UV radiation of the sun. However, just because we have more melanin in our skin doesn't mean we shouldn't take care of our skin and take the necessary steps to further protect our skin from the dangers of UV rays from the sun. For example, people of color do get tanned and can develop sunburn from over-exposure to the sun. Although it might take longer for darker-skin people to develop sunburns or to visibly notice the damage being done to the skin, it doesn't mean you're home free and safe from the dangers of the sun.
As we're currently experiencing a heat-wave in NYC this weekend, below are a few wellness sun-safety tips that everyone can practice:
1. Wear sunscreen and limit direct exposure to the sun, irregardless of your skin tone/ color. According to skin-care experts, sunscreen should be used every day and all year round, but especially during the summer--when the sun is stronger and the days are longer. Below are a few sunscreens I had at my house that I decided to use for this post. This is not a sponsored post and there are plenty of options to choose from when trying to decide the best sunscreen to use for your skin type. Do your research and as a general rule pick something with "broad spectrum" protection and make sure it has sun protection factor (SPF) 30 or higher.
2. Protect your eyes by wearing UV-blocking sunglasses.
3. Stay hydrated to prevent dehydration. If you don't like drinking plain water, adding fruits to your water to create flavored-water is a fun way to make sure you're drinking plenty of fluid.
4. Wear light clothing and wear a large-brimmed hat to protect your skin from direct exposure to the sun as much as possible.