Do People of Colour Need SPF?

If you are a person of colour, then please stop what you’re doing right now and give this article a little read!

I’d to talk to you today about the stigma surrounding people with colour and SPF! That’s right, sun screen. Most of the big-name companies have acted like POC simply don’t need SPF for years! Like hey, if we did need it then why have I been gifted with more melanin and why does my skin colour originate from hotter, sunnier countries! 

@thebeautyanswers

Do POC need sun lotion? ☀️ Iya is here to discuss the myths of darker skin tones and sun immunity, including different ways POC can get UV damage and how to prevent it with SPF! #spf #spfalways #skinprotection #skincaretiktok

♬ original sound – BeautyAnswers

Why do we believe POC need SPF?

Sadly, there is an enormous myth originally started (believe it or not) by the medical community. Historically, the field of medicine hasn’t given black people adequate medical care specific to our needs, and the field of dermatology is no exception. With a lot of funding and awareness for research on the effect of the sun typically ignoring those with darker skin tones. After doing a little research and reading articles from places such as Healthline, It became obvious where the ideas of black skin and immunity to the harmful rays of the Sun came from. Studies carried out in the last two decades found that a significant percentage of qualified dermatologists and dermatology residents admitted that they hadn’t received specific training on common skin conditions in black people. A 2014 study found that POC were prescribed sunscreen after ER visits approximately 9 times less than white people. Even in cases of pigment-related skin diseases where sun sensitivity is a concern, doctors still routinely advise black people to use sunscreen much less than white people. There’s no wonder why dermatological clinicians were often less suspicious about sun lesions and other alarming dermal conditions found on POC when compared to white! 

Do we have sun immunity or not?  

My white mum and black dad were constantly smothering me in sunscreen as a kid, but when I used to ask my dad why he wasn’t doing the same he would simply say that he doesn’t need it, and would probably say the same if I asked him today!

 The fact is yes, as a person of colour you are less likely to get skin cancer BUT black people who do develop skin cancer may be more likely to receive a late-stage prognosis. Some studies show that black people are, on average, four times more likely to be diagnosed with advanced stage melanoma and tend to succumb at a rate 1.5 times faster than white people with a similar diagnosis. When we know that the majority of skin cancer can be cured and treated when caught early it just seems foolish to not wear SPF!

Not only this, but as a community we have been made aware that black people live with a higher risk of diseases than our white counterparts. Some of these are diseases that are affected by UV light that can greatly increase the risk of developing skin cancer. Diseases such as hypertension, where certain medications and treatments can increase the skin’s sensitivity to light, and Lupus which itself directly increases the skin’s photosensitivity. Both of these are more common in POC and increase the risk of harmful UV damage.

Why are we still not wearing SPF? 

So what is going on? Let’s be honest now, as a community we LOVE creams and body lotions so what is stopping us from simply switching one cream for another if it could prevent us from developing skin cancer? 

I think it’s safe to say it is not just the myth of sun immunity on its own that is stopping us! I believe it’s a mixture of a few things, yes companies and even our own community instilling the myth of sun-immunity into us, but also the fact that no thought of how wearing sun lotion can make a POC look dreadful, especially when one considers that the correct way to wear any SPF cream isn’t to rub it in until it completely disappears, but to leave a film on top of the skin! Considering the fact that a lot of these sun creams tend to be pure white then It definitely has something to do with the fear of looking ashen! If you are a person of colour then please let me know in the comments section below how many times you’ve put on sunscreen and it has made you feel that you look awful? Mineral based sunscreens do this, and it is just another indicator that some companies haven’t given POC the care and research we are due and which we richly deserve!

Fortunately, people in the industry such as dermatologists and skin care companies are waking up to our needs (and our spending power!) and starting to think about people of colour. There are even organisations who are offering grants to study black skin. Some of these companies include Shiseido, La Roche – Posay, and even high street brands such as Garnier Ambre Solaire.   

Shiseido Expert Sun Protector Face And Body Lotion SPF30

La Roche-Posay Anthelios UVMune 400 Invisible Fluid SPF50+ Sun Cream 50ml

Ambre Solaire Super UV Anti Dark Spots & Anti Pollution Face Fluid SPF50+ 40ml

I am on a hunt to find a Sunscreen that helps keep the melanin magical and the skin healthy. Keep your eyes peeled, SPF review incoming.

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