Melanin is the skin’s natural SPF: the more, the merrier
Melanin is the primary pigment that gives skin and hair its unique color. It absorbs the radiation from the sun and it is our body’s natural defense system against harmful UV rays. Besides a few exceptions, everyone has melanin, but some have more melanin than others: the darker the skin, the more melanin. Because of their melanin density and efficacy, darker skins don't burn as easily as lighter skin but they also tend to be more vitamin D deficient: melanin blocks the UV-B rays, the rays that are responsible for sunburns but also those who help our body synthesize vitamin D. According to a study led by Dr. Sandy Saintonge from Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City, black teenagers were 20 times more likely to be vitamin D deficient than white teens. An dthis is also true for the older population.
Darker skins are less likely to develop UV induced skin cancer.
Thanks to their rich melanin count, darker skins are not as prone in getting skin cancer than lighter skins. In a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Dr. Martin Weinstock, a professor of dermatology and epidemiology at Brown University, found that there’s no relationship between sun exposure, skin cancer and dark-skinned individuals. According to Dr. Adewole Adamson, a dermatologist and director of the pigmented lesion clinic at The University of Texas at Austin’s Dell School of Medicine, the most skin cancer darker-skinned individuals can get is on “the palms of the hand and the sole of the feet.” These parts of the body are the least exposed from the sun and this suggests that skin cancer is not as related to sun exposure you may think especially in darker skin.
“Blacks don’t crack” … really?
While darker skins have a stronger tolerance against UV in general, they’re not totally off the hook when it comes to nasty UV-A rays and their damages such as photoaging. UV-A rays break down the collagen and proteins in the skin’s matrix (their role is to keep the skin looking youthful and plump), they penetrate deeper in the skin than UV-B rays and cause lines and wrinkles. Lighter skins tend to primarily experience fine lines, wrinkles and dark spots while darker skins tend to see “sagging of the skin, loss of volume from the face, and hyperpigmentation,” says Jeanine Downie, M.D., a dermatologist in Montclair, N.J. Regardless of the color of your skin, time in the sun will accelerate aging and it starts as early as in your 20’s. It might take longer for darker skin to show signs of photoaging, but they’re happening, no matter what.
We cannot reverse or avoid the natural aging process, and why would we? Aging is beautiful! But we can avoid premature aging and other photodamages caused by sunlight. Remember, 80% of our exposure and 90% of the damage to our skin comes from ambient sunlight, it’s passive, it’s 7 days a week, and it’s for all of us. And sunscreen might not be the one size fit all sun care solution…
Our product recommendation: Skinergies Incidental Sun Smart Serum provides a full-antiphotoaging solution for all skin types including dark skins. The serum is a lightweight anti-photoaging ninja featuring all naturally derived ingredients that fight UV-induced damages. It's the go-to daylight defense solution of all skin types, specially formulated to address situations of sporadic, passive sun exposure to ambient sunlight. No white cast, no heavy feeling, and no harmful chemicals. Only a better, younger looking skin.