When I saw the episode of Insecure when Molly asked, "You got my sunscreen? I know I'm black, but cancer don't care". I knew I needed to write a post about the importance of sunscreen. As a black woman, you might question whether you should use an SPF on a daily basis. You may even believe that you can't get skin cancer. But you’d be surprised. "Anyone can get skin cancer," says, Jeanine B. Downie MD, director of Image Dermatology. While It is less common in people of color, it’s often more severe. That's because it's usually found later when it's harder to treat.
I admit until I was in my 30s, I like most black people were unaware of the damage caused by the sun. I used baby oil to sunbathe so I could get a deep chocolate tan. The first person to tell me how harmful that was, was Doctor Downie. She advised me to wear a sunscreen every day rain or shine, in winter and summer. Thankfully, the damage I caused to my skin did not have a fatal result. But let me be clear, our melanin will not protect us against sunburn or melasma.
Now, I know most of us still believe that "black don't crack," but it does age, and 70% of all aging is caused by the sun. Unlike hair, after it is damaged, you can't cut it all off and start again. So here are a few tips to take care of your skin and maybe save your life.
Sunscreen Fit Tips: (According to the Skin Cancer Foundation)
1. Use sunscreen daily, and throughout the year. Remember, sun exposure happens year round – whether summer or winter – so at the very least it’s wise to use a facial moisturizer with sunscreen when you’re going about your regular day to day.
2. Use sunscreens that provide “broad-spectrum protection.” Board spectrum protection is something that will be advertised on the product label, and this means that the sunscreen will protect against both UVA and UVB rays – which are linked to skin cancer and sunburn, respectively.
3. In cases of minimal sun exposure (i.e., sun exposure for just a few minutes at a time) it’s safe to stick with an SPF (sun protection factor) of 15, which will filter out about 93 percent of UV radiation. In cases of more extended, intense sun exposure, you should go with SPF 30 or higher.
4. Last but not least, when applying sunscreen keep in mind that you need to use an adequate amount and you may also need to reapply depending on how long you’re outdoors. The basic rule of thumb: You should reapply sunscreen every 2-3 hours, and if you go swimming or get in the water, you should also reapply more sunscreen after exiting the water.