That freak trial period of summer in April 2018 had us thinking of evening and weekend motives, outfits and getaways. But did sun protection cross your mind? Probably not.
When you think of sunburn, you may conjure up images of flushed skin of a paler hue.
Advertising doesn’t help. As with countless instances in mainstream media, most sun cream adverts often centre white people lathering the protective balm onto their skin while frolicking on a beach somewhere. A simple Google image search for ‘sun cream advert’ confirms this. This narrative usually erases black and brown people, feeding into the misconception that people with darker skin do not need the same protection from the sun’s harmful rays. Wrong!
Yes, black and brown skin’s high levels of melanin offer some protection, but all our resplendent melanin may not protect us from carcinogenic UV rays that can increase the risk of developing skin cancer. Although research says dark skin carries a natural skin protection factor of around 13 and we may not burn as easily as those with fair skin, we are still at risk of our skin getting damaged.
Sunburn on dark skin reads differently to that of fairer skin. If you’ve over-exposed yourself, you might feel tingly, itchiness or peeling, rather than the pain, redness or blistering that is so often associated with sunburn on white skin.
‘But sun cream leaves me ashy!’ I hear that. But hear this, too: gone are the days of dodging chalky-casting sunblock. There are actually some great SPFs out there that don’t leave that weird grey-tinge on our skin. Tip: try not to wear the same sunblock as the one you take on holiday – I can attest that smelling like holiday on your commute to work is not the one.
Now you don’t need to cancel all sun exposure completely. Everything in moderation. Direct exposure to the sun for a short period of time daily can generate some vitamin D, which is crucial for keeping bones, teeth and teeth healthy. However, specific recommendations are not easy to make, as factors including skin type, time of day, where you live and even how much skin you expose come into play. You can find vitamin D in foods such as oily fish, fortified foods, red meat and eggs. To boost your vitamin D intake, you might consider taking a food supplement if you’re worried about over-exposing the skin to UV rays (or lack thereof, as we have come to understand about British weather).
So there you have it. Summer is coming and sun protection is still important regardless of your naturally-occurring SPF.
I leave you with this: be carefree, not careless in the sun. Get into that SPF!
*Disclaimer: this article is intended for general health information and is not to be used as a substitute for medical advice. If you require more information, please consult your GP.*