Health & Fitness
A Colored Girls Guide to Smart Summer Skincare
Getting some color this summer? Something that burns me up is the notion that black people or people of color don’t tan. And I mean that literally. It burnt me up because I had that notion myself for a while. I felt that my melanin powers would prevent me from getting a sunburn. I was wrong and I was peeling and looking to treat my sun burned skin one teenaged summer.
With the temperatures soaring this year, we all need to be mindful that sunburn is something that everyone is susceptible to including us moms of color. I used to joke that my melanin powers would prevent me from burning in the sun. Melanin is actually the body's way of protecting skin from burning. Also referred to as pigment, Melanin is what gives color to our skin, hair and even iris. Melanin also provides a natural protection against the harmful effects of the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Darker-skinned people have more melanin and thus have more protection. But protection doesn’t mean prevention when it comes to the harmful effects of too much sun. Individuals with darker skin tones are still at risk from the sun's damaging rays. It may be more difficult for darker skin toned people to burn but it does happen as does skin cancer and other skin problems in people of darker complexions.
Since nearly 80% of Americans feel that they look better with a tan, I’m sure that quite of few of you will be out getting some color this summer.
So here’s a colored girls guide to smart summer skincare and sun safety:
Rule No. 1: Chill out during Midday. The sun’s rays are the strongest at midday between 10am – 4pm. There’s a greater risk for sunburn at this time particularly on the beach which has the added effect of water reflection. So take a break from the hot temperatures during midday and chill inside.
Rule No. 2: Wear protective clothing. Let’s keep it real, you shopped and you’ve got a ton of long summer dresses to show off. It’s best to wear longer lightweight protective clothing in the summer. Protective clothing is the best defense against sun exposure as sunscreen needs to be reapplied every 30 minutes which is often difficult to do. And in terms of style, ever notice the bright colors that you find on sun dresses? Well those bright and dark colors provide more protection than white or light colored clothing.
Rule No. 3: Use Sunblock. Your melanin will appreciate a little help. Use sun block with an SPF of at least 30 when you are planning to be in the sun. Keep that in mind for long drives as well and use sunblock on your face and arms. Don’t forget to get a lip balm with sunscreen protection. You don’t want your pucker to peel.
Rule No. 4 : Get spots on your skin checked out. While melanoma a form of skin cancer isn’t common for many people of color, once detected for groups such Asians, African-Americans and Latinos, it is commonly fatal. This is because of a lack of awareness to what harmful spots look like in these groups. It results in spots being caught much later than on people with fairer complexions generally.