Jul 23, 2019

Why Sunscreen is Important for Skin of Color

By Carolynn Grimes

Breaking the Myth: Dark Skin and Sunscreen

It’s a common myth that needs to be dispelled once and for all- those with darker skin do not need sunscreen

Dr. DiAnne Davis, a board-certified dermatologist in Salt Lake City, Utah was influential in coordinating the first Skin of Color Symposium, helping to promote awareness of the unique features of skin of color from both a medical and cosmetic dermatologic viewpoint.

The Facts about Sunscreen

“We have so many studies showing us that if we start to protect the skin at an early age, then we can help protect patients from collagen breakdown, possible precancerous lesions, and even skin cancers. And yes, that's even for skin of color,” states Davis.

For Davis' skin of color patients, she recommends a physical sunblock with an SPF of at least 30, or higher. Davis says a good sunscreen will protect you from the harmful rays and also from some of the oxidants and pollutants in the air.

SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor, and the number tells you how well a sunsceen will protect against ultraviolet B rays. It’s also essential to find a sunscreen with the words, ‘broad-spectrum,’ to protect you from both UVB and UVA rays.

Your Grandmother’s Skin

“I also like to talk to my patients of color, because a lot of us will collect these tiny little moles on our face, called DPN’s or dermatosis papulosa nigra.” Davis says many patients will notice they have more DPN’s on the left side of their face than the right side. She says that's because it's our driving side, and it's getting more sun exposure. 

“For a lot of my patients, who think well, ‘I don't really need to wear sunscreen because I have more melanin in my skin that should protect me.’ I explain to them that they are also at risk of developing these kinds of small epidermal lesions that happen as a result of exposure.”

The Link Between Sunscreen and Prejuvenation

Sunscreen is a good prejuvenation tool for all skin types. “When I tell patients about either the tiny little moles or fine lines and wrinkles, that's a game-changer to get them to understand that the SPF is going to prevent the sun from breaking down your collagen, which leads to the fine lines and wrinkles we begin to see in our late 20s and early 30s.