As a brown girl, I was raised with this misconception that people with darker skin tones do not need to apply a sunscreen. That is, if you have naturally brown or darker skin, you do not get sunburned, therefore, it is not necessary for you to apply a sunscreen.
There is some scientific truth to this belief. And here’s why. Darker skin tones produce more melanin (the pigment that gives your skin color) and the more melanin your skin has, the fewer UV rays penetrate it. Essentially people with a darker skin tones are said to have built-in SPF so it does offer more protection from UV rays than those with a lighter skin tone.
While this may have some truth to it, dermatologists say that UV rays can penetrate all skin types regardless of their color. When the sun rays hit your skin, it produces more melanin to protect itself. The increased melanin production results in the skin turning darker (or tanning). The “tan” is not protecting your skin; it’s basically a sign a sun damage.
Up until recently, I remained naïve about applying sunscreen and protecting my skin against the UV rays. I knew that the sun might be doing some damage to my skin, but I was lazy to dabble sunscreen because I didn’t think that it was that big of a deal. Besides, sunscreen, the ones i vaguely remember using once or twice in the past, were always thick and pasty and made my skin rough and ashy.
I have a darker skin tone, so what’s a teeny tiny sun damage in comparison to the yucky paste that you need to lather on? Right?
After having 2 kids, I had some drastic changes to my skin. You can read more about it in my postpartum skin changes post here. At first, I thought it was melasma or caused by hormonal changes. True, but the hormones just made the it ripe – the problem already existed!
Since I never wore sunscreen, I had a lot of brown spots on my face and arms (I should say HAVE because they aren’t completely gone!!). And, when I finally did learn that these were not just pregnancy masks, but spots caused by sun damage, I took a closer look and got some help.
The ingredients in a sunscreen falls under 2 filters: chemical filters and mineral filters. Chemical filters absorb the UV rays that hit your skin, and mineral filters deflect the rays away from your skin. Mineral sunscreens tend to rate better because the active ingredients in them rate better in the EWG (Environmental Working Group). Also, chemical components in any product can cause skin irritation especially for those with sensitive skin. The 2 most common active ingredients in mineral sunscreens are zinc oxide (the ingredient in Desitin for baby rash), and titanium dioxide, and very few, if any, of these particles penetrate the skin to reach the deeper tissues. Therefore, mineral sunscreens are preferred by many especially by those with sensitive and allergy-prone skin.
The bottom line is, everyone needs to use sunscreen – despite your skin color. Apply it after your moisturizer (unless your sunscreen is also a moisturizer), and before your make up routine. It will protect your skin from premature again, dark spots, wrinkles caused by UV rays, blotchy complexion, and in extreme cases, skin cancer. You can read about the different types of treatments for each of this sun damage here.
Some sunscreen I’ve researched, and/or tried are as follows:
Dermalogica – I received this as a sample with my Sephora order a while back and after much hesitation, I tried it. And I loved it! It goes on effortlessly and blends in perfectly with my moisturizer and make up. It has a soft and creamy texture and does not require any extra rubbing to get absorbed.
Tatcha – I currently use this pore perfecting sunscreen and it’s amazing. It is a pretty expensive, but I have enlarged pores around my nose and this helps to fill it nicely before I apply any make up or concealer etc.
Aveeno – I used to wear Aveeno in my 20s and I am always a fan of it. I have tried Aveeno moisturizers that have sunscreen in them but the sunscreen portion of it was never something I cared much for. Now that I do, and wear it as a separate step in my skin care routine, I would definitely recommend the Aveeno moisturizer with SPF 30. It is also easy on the wallet.
Neutrogena – this hypoallergic, gentle mineral sunscreen is a 100% zinc oxide and works wonderfully for those with sensitive skin.
Coola – this is one of the most light-weight sunscreens you would find out there. It is oil-free and packed with several plant-based ingredients such as aloe, neroli flower, safflower, jasmine, olive and many more. I ordered this one 2 days ago so I am really excited to try it out!
Supergoop – I heard about this sunscreen in Arshia Moorjaani’s skin care videos and immediately looked it up. She swears by it and I can see why. This product is a primer with sunscreen; so basically 2-in-1 combination that works for all skin types. It is a light-weight gel that is invisible when you apply it and the best part about it is that it contains red algae which protects your skin against the blue light emitted by electronic devices.
So there you go guys! I am sure there is a ton of different type of sunscreen products out in the market today. These are just a few that I mentioned; please do your research and patch test any of these before you incorporate it into your daily skin care routine. No matter what brand, type, or combination of sunscreen you use, the most important thing is that you USE IT! Protect your beautiful skin from sun damage because trust me, it takes hell of a lot to fix it after the fact!
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