Despite the old and highly deceiving adage, no matter your shade – Black people need to use sunscreen too!! Don’t let the “Black Don’t Crack” philosophy fool you; premature aging from sun exposure is real and can happen to us too. The absolute worst thing you can do to your skin in sunny weather is not protect it with sunscreen but, choosing the wrong sunscreen can also cause problems of its own.
Depending on your skin type and other specific desires, you need to be very particular about what product you choose to protect your skin. To avoid the trial (and unfortunately error) process that I experienced, after thorough research, I’ve picked a few products to get you started in the right direction. But first, skincare class is in session:
Higher SPF, More Protection?
For most people, a higher SPF (sun protection factor) doesn’t necessarily equate to better protection from sun damage. Despite what many believe, higher SPF doesn’t equal longer protection without reapplication, and can actually overexpose your skin to harmful rays. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, it is recommended to use a minimum SPF of 30 but no more than 60. While no SPF offers 100% protection from UV rays, proper application will save your life (literally)!! If you’re expecting to be in the sun for an extended period of time. Be sure to reapply your sunscreen every 2 hours and—if you’re extra like me–bring along a hat for added protection.
Where you Need Sunscreen
I can’t stress this enough; sunscreen, especially during summer months, is necessary for black people too! While melanin is the Queen of all Queens in natural skin protection, it doesn’t make us invincible! Overtime, excess exposure to UV rays can cause sunburn, premature aging and more serious conditions like actinic keratosis and full blown skin cancer.
While this may seem like a no-brainer, many people aren’t sure of exactly where they should apply their sunscreen. Hint: it’s not just made for your face. When necessary, sunscreen should be applied to any part of the body (lips included. Yes lips) that is being exposed to the sun and ANY other form of UV radiation.
So, for my girls that love a good gel full-set or mani and pedi, the curing light used to set your polish emits those same damaging UV rays. Before your next nail appointment, consider purchasing a pair of UV nail gloves to protect your hands. They’re an inexpensive beauty product with mighty protection.
Face VS. Body Sunscreen
A question that we all have had; what’s the difference between sunscreen formulated for your face and sunscreen used on the body? The skin on your face is not only more sensitive but naturally spends more time exposed to the sun than other parts of your body. The main difference between these two is that facial sunscreen is made with less oil to prevent acne and comes in more specific formulas for different skin types and conditions.
Sunscreen for the body is usually packed with moisturizing oils and many even contain alcohol. If you’re swimming or participating in an activity that causes heavy sweating, be sure to reapply your sunscreen as soon as you are able to dry off.
5 Black-owned Sunscreen Brands You Need to Know:
Note (because I’m a writer not a doctor): If you are someone that suffers from a medical skin condition or are unsure of your skintolerance (yes, I made up that word), consult with a dermatologist about what formula is best for you. Now that our little chemistry lesson is complete; on to what you really came here for!
To avoid the ashy look
This is hands down the worst thing Black women and girls run into when searching for the perfect sunscreen. While some researchers recommend mineral sunscreens over their chemical-based opponents, mineral sunscreens are the culprits of that white cast we all know and hate. Thankfully though, Black owned skincare brands have worked nonstop with us in mind to create sunscreen formulas that rid us of the ash attack without compromising protection and avoiding harsh chemical additions.
For sensitive skin
For my girls with extra sensitive skin or a skin condition that puts you at risk when exposed to certain chemicals, you may have been told that mineral sunscreens are the best option and—they are. Mineral sunscreens (used interchangeably with physical sunscreen) are made using more natural formulas to prevent their users from exposing their skin to any unnecessary chemicals. Have no fear though, they aren’t all created equally and the dreadful cast can be avoided.
For dry skin
– Sunscreen can be extremely drying on the skin, especially for those that already have a dryer skin type. Chemicals, such as zinc oxide, are often found in mineral sunscreens and while they may be easier on the skin for those with sensitivities, this chemical is naturally drying. If you’re someone that falls into this category, be sure to look for sunscreens that contain hydrating ingredients like oils and butters.
For oily skin
Nothing is worse than oily skin and sweat, especially if you plan to wear makeup. While primers and setting sprays can offer you a matte finish, they don’t protect your skin like sunscreen does. Look for sunscreens that offer you a matte like finish without diminishing your hydration.
Minimize Dark Spots
Ahh dark spots. Every black girl’s biggest enemy and worst skincare fear. We’ve all had them and work tirelessly to prevent them from ruining a flawless complexion. The key? Vitamin C in your sunscreen! Who doesn’t love a product that offers two major benefits in one dose? I know I do! Not to mention this brand has an array of products to work alongside their beloved sunscreen to give you that ultimate, seamless glow.
If you remember to implement these rules when shopping for and applying sunscreen, your skin will definitely thank you for it. Protect that melanin sis! It’s too precious not to.