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Friday, July 11, 2014

Ethnic Skin: Tips for the Summer Sun

We spend a lot of time talking about protecting your skin from the sun, but it’s easy to ignore some of these tips if you don’t have white skin that is prone to sunburn. You shouldn’t! One of the most important, yet least understood, parts of caring for ethnic skin is sun prevention. For years, many people have believed the myth that it is impossible for people with dark skin to get skin cancer. But the truth, according to, is just the opposite. Individuals with dark skin have more melanin and therefore ought to actually be MORE cautious when dealing with the sun. Otherwise, damage can easily be overlooked, leading to later detection and increased risk of cancer and other issues. It is very important to take great care of your skin in order to not only keep it looking beautiful, but also to avoid the more serious problem of skin cancer.

Now that summer is in full swing, let’s brush up on some sunscreen myths and facts for dark-skinned people and learn about new advances in technology that can benefit all of us.

Myth: Sunscreen is unnecessary
For some time, it was a common belief that African-Americans do not need to use sunscreen as much as Caucasians do. Do not fall for this! Interestingly, brown skin does have a built-in SPF of 13.4, while light skin has a built-in SPF of just .4. However, daily use of sunscreen is still necessary to fully protect yourself from sunspots, wrinkles and other sun damage.

Sunscreen: The basics and the “residue” issue
We recommend a sunscreen with SPF 30 or for daily use. Apply it daily at least 20 minutes before going outside. These are a few things to look out for when choosing your sunscreen:

  • Only use sunscreen that protects you from both UVA and UVB rays. It is commonly called “broad-spectrum”
  • While SPF 30 or above is recommended, SPF 15 is the absolute lowest that can reduce risk of skin cancer and early aging.
  • Don’t forget to REAPPLY. Sunscreens cannot advertise as sweat-proof or waterproof, but they can be resistant to both. Since sunblock doesn’t completely withstand water and sweat, you should reapply after 40 to 80 minutes of swimming or sweating.

The Residue
A common issue with sunscreen is the whitish-gray residue that the product can leave behind. While this has been a problem in the past, new technology has essentially eliminated the issue. Here are some tips for avoiding this annoying problem:

  • Use micronized formulas that have made sunscreen more cosmetically acceptable and less likely to leave residue.
  • Try quick-absorbing formulas that contain chemical ingredients that sink into your skin. Some of ingredients to look out for include Mexoryl SX, Helioplex, and AvoTriple. These are the chemicals that will keep you safe without the frustrating white film!
  • Clear zinc formula is a great alternative to regular sunblock, and it is much less visible when applied.

Enjoy the beautiful outdoors this summer, but don’t forget to use these tips to protect yourself and your family from the sun’s harmful rays!

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