The frequently peddled notion that high levels of melanin in the skin make sunscreen redundant is simply untrue. Skin cancer risks aside, it’s a dangerous misconception that black and brown skin doesn’t need protection to stay healthy. Those with darker skin tones also feel the effects of sun damage, with skin still becoming dry and itchy after exposure. The truth is, we all need to be wearing an SPF every day of the year, no matter how dark or pasty our skin tone, whether we’re relaxing on a balmy beach in Cornwall, or clutching our coat and scarf for warmth on our morning commute – SPF should be everyone’s most
faithful skincare companion.
Melanin is found in the skin and is ultimately what gives each of us our own beautifully unique skin colour. The more melanin you have in your skin, the darker it is. The cells that produce this pigment are called melanocytes, and are located at the very bottom of the first layer of our epidermis. You can also find melanocytes in each of our hairs, eyes and even our brains. Although UV damage is less probable in skin with higher levels of melanin, the risk still exists. This can involve anything from very dry, rough or textured skin to fine lines, uneven skin tone, peeling or shedding. These side effects only scratch the surface of the potential long-term harm that omitting SPF from our daily routines could do to our skin.
What really happens when we tan
When our skin is exposed to the sun, it’s absorbing UV radiation. Because melanin protects our skin against this, our melanocytes start to produce more melanin to try and reduce this radiation, which in turn makes us darker and creates sunspots and freckles.
Sun damage and melanoma can affect us all
While melanoma (skin cancer) is not as common in darker skin, it’s by no means immune to it. UV rays damage everyone’s skin, so skipping your SPF protection can cause long-term, irreparable effects on the health and elasticity of the skin – it’s always best to opt for prevention before needing the cure.
Match your sun care to your skin tone
A lot of sun creams leave a chalky residue, which is more prominent on darker skin tones. Historically these kinds of products have been designed primarily for caucasian skin, wrongly omitting an entire demographic who still need SPF protection. However, Tropic’s gloriously translucent new Great Barrier range is formulated with a diverse range of skin tones in mind. The sun lotions absorb easily, effortlessly and invisibly into the skin. This range is also water and sweat-resistant, which is ideal for hazily hot days spent sprawling out by a pool, or equally glamorous hours pegging washing out in the garden.
We should be lathering up for every occasion.
The bottom line
We all need to be wearing an SPF of at least 30 when we’re out in the sun, making sure we re-apply every 2 hours for ongoing protection. High levels of melanin in our skin don’t act as a complete shield, so SPF should be the hottest handbag hero, whatever your skin tone.
Click here to shop our range of broad-spectrum, skin-loving sun protection.