Halloween szn is over, but you know what’s really scary? Skin cancer, hyperpigmentation and premature aging from sun damage. That’s pretty extreme, but it’s true and I’d lie to dive in a bit on the topic of sunscreen and the importance of SPF.
I was once in a classroom where a presenter asked the audience to raise their hands if they didn’t apply sunscreen daily and the majority of the room slowly lifted their hands. When asked why they chose not to wear it, the responses sounded VERY familiar. Some shouted out were “I don’t think I need it” “I only wear it at the beach” “I don’t like wearing it under my makeup because of the white cast it leaves” “I try to, but I forget.” “I don’t think it helps”
Very interesting responses and I too believed the same. Being black, I believe I was misinformed about who SPF was for. Ultra-violet rays can cause skin burns, skin cancer, skin wrinkling, etc and it’s also a fact that they do not affect black people as they do caucasians or people of lighter complexions --statistically. It wasn’t until I did my research, read posts about hyper-pigmentation from beauty bloggers, and listened to a presentation about skin cancer that I became a believer.
The dedicated SPF life is not for the lazy because it’s recommended use is not the one and done type. I have a different daytime and nighttime routine. Personally, I’ve switched my moisturizers to those with SPF 15 and I also spray an SPF 50 setting spray that I apply every few hours. My desk is next to a window and when I remember, I apply the setting spray about 15-20 minutes before actually going outside. I also use dark spot correcting serums because I have hyperpigmentation from old acne scars so SPF is a must because, without it, chances are I won’t see any improvement.
Aside from the cosmetic benefits, SPF is a tool that helps the prevention of melanoma. The numbers show that the risk of getting melanoma is about 2.5% (1 in 40) for whites, 0.1% (1 in 1,000) for blacks, and 0.5% (1 in 200) for Hispanics. So as a black woman, I am technically at a lower risk, but why not take precautions and start making changes now in my youth?
Skin is the largest organ of the body so we need to preserve and protect it. There are three types of UV rays. UVA rays penetrate deep into the dermis. Unprotected exposure can lead to premature skin aging, photoaging, and suppression of the immune system. UVB rays will usually burn the superficial layers of your skin. (Yes, people of color can get sunburned!)It plays a key role in the development of skin cancer. UVC rays, the most dangerous, has the shortest wavelength and absorbed mostly by the Earth’s ozone layer, but it doesn’t reach the Earth’s surface.
The epidermis is composed of three types of cells keratinocytes (skin cells), melanocytes (pigment-producing cells), and Langerhans cells (immune cells).
Of the three type of skin cancers, melanoma is by far is the most deadly. It occurs when melanocytes become cancerous and begin to rapidly produce. It usually presents itself as a small mole, and if you’re familiar with Grey’s Anatomy, that’s what got Izzy’s attention. Seems harmless, but at that point, the melanocytes have been stuck with UV rays. Sunlight strikes melanocytes, then it makes more of the pigment melanin and darkens the skin. The result is usually benign moles, freckles, or even a tan. Usually, but not always.
Here are some facts about Melanoma that I think are important to know
Melanoma frequently develops in a mole or suddenly appears as a new dark spot on the skin.
Melanoma is more than 20 times more common in whites than in African Americans.
One person dies of melanoma every hour, every day.
Tanning beds increase your risk of melanoma by 75%.
UV rays can penetrate and change the structure of skin cells and cause DNA mutations that cause skin cancer.
Having darkly pigmented skin lowers your risk of melanoma at these more common sites, but anyone can get melanoma on the palms of the hands, soles of the feet, and under the nails. That seems so minor and silly, but did you know that melanomas in those areas make up a much larger portion of melanomas in African Americans than in whites?
The Melanoma Research Alliance suggests that your sunscreen list “Broad Spectrum”, “water resistant” and should have at least SPF30. My Ulta Beauty spray lists all three and it also sets my makeup, thus it’s lit. Remember, SPF is important ALL year ‘round. So as yoou bulk up on moisturizers and serums, don’t forget about SPF.