Why Darker Skin Tones Should Never Skip SPF

By August 3, 2017

Here at The Klog we’re all about bursting the bubble on skin care myths and sunscreen myths, and today we’re tackling a pretty dangerous one: The claim that darker skin tones don’t need sun protection. Keep reading to find out the best sunscreen for darker skin and why every skin tone needs to stay protected.

Time and time again, I’ve heard how those with darker skin don’t need to apply SPF since they “don’t burn as easily.” It’s definitely a cultural assumption and something even I have experienced. As a Latina, I grew up getting tanned all of the time and I even remember my sisters putting on sun tanning oil so they could get a darker and quicker tan. Just thinking about it now leaves me horrified.

The second I started to take my skin into consideration (AKA slathering SPF on like my life depended on it), I would always hear people say, “You’re too white,” or “You need to get some sun.” For me, that sunkissed look just wasn’t worth all the dangers that come along with extended sun exposure, like skin cancer and premature aging.

But my friends seem to carry this myth mindset that because they’re darker and they don’t burn like other skin types, they don’t need SPF. Today we’re going to dispel that myth and break down the facts vs the fiction on sun protection for darker skin tones.

UV rays don’t discriminate:

Despite what you may think, UV rays don’t just pick and choose which skin type to damage. While it is true that lighter skin tones are more prone to sunburn and skin cancer, that doesn’t leave darker skin tones exempt. The difference between tones is all about how much melanin the skin has, and those with darker skin have more melanin, which acts like a built in SPF. This means less UV rays can penetrate their skin, since darker skin tones have a natural SPF of 13 to 16, depending on the amount of melanin in the skin.

But even so, extended periods of time in the sun leave you exposed to hours of sun damage and there’s only so many UV rays that your “natural SPF” can protect you from. Remember: Any sign of a tan is a sign of skin damage. Getting that summer tan equates to extended exposure to sun damage, and this is true for everyone regardless of race.

Why you should wear SPF:

You always hear us go on and on about why you should avoid the sun, but do you really know why? When the sun hits the skin without UV protection, it penetrates the layers and damages skin fibers like collagen (which holds our skin together).

This loss of collagen leads to loose sagging skin that doesn’t bounce back and increases the aging process, leaving you with more prominent fine lines and wrinkles. Beyond the aesthetic issues, skin cancer is an extremely serious and life threatening health concern. The sun’s damage can happen to anyone with any kind of skin tone. Any sign of unusual skin growths is a reason to seek out medical advice immediately.

The best sunscreen for darker skin:

We understand that a lot of the time, people with darker skin don’t reach for SPF because traditional sunscreens leave behind a white cast making skin look ashy and greasy. But this is no excuse to skip on the sunscreen; SPF has come a long way and there different types of formulations that specifically avoid the unnecessary white cast.

Check out the Banana Boat SunComfort Clear UltraMist Spray SPF 50+ for your body. It goes on clear without any greasy or oily residue. (For more body recommendations, check out our grease and white cast-free options here.) To protect your face, try using the Neogen Day-Light Protection Sunscreen, which has SPF 50 PA+++ protection and hydrates and balances without the white cast. To reapply over makeup, check out our best tips here so you can stay protected all day long.

Bottom line:

Despite what you grew up believing, skin protection is vital and something that everyone should take seriously. Some myths aren’t worth your health. So, load up on sunscreen and remember to reapply every one to two hours!

+ What’s your favorite sunscreen for darker skin? Share your recommendations below!
Photo credit: @cto.visuals (photographer), @ied.x (model)

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