Growing up, I always heard the phrase “Black don’t crack!” in reference to black women and their skin as they got older. Over the years I believed that phrase to be true. For example, my mother is well over 50 years old, yet she looks like she is in her prime! However, with years comes wisdom, and while I do believe that women of color age gracefully, I also know the importance of taking preventative measures.
One of the easiest ways to treat and prevent aging is through sunscreen. I never really understood the concept of sunscreen until recently, and I feel horrible for not protecting my skin sooner. While good genes are one part of the aging process, the sun plays a big part in in too. Sun exposure will activate the first signs of aging and can also cause skin cancer. Knowing this, it is important to incorporate sunscreen in your daily skincare and or makeup routine.
1. Pick a brand! A lot of your favorite makeup brands have products with sunscreen in them! Clinique is one of my favorites because its gentle on the skin and does the job well. However, other brands like M.A.C., Lancome, Bobbi Brown, even Maybelline, all have makeup and or skincare products that will satisfy your sunscreen needs. All you have to do is pick one!
2. Understand the label. One of the reasons why I didn’t wear sunscreen is because I didn’t understand the label. SPF is a common acronym that you will see on most, if not all sunscreen related products. SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor, and it indicates how much protection you will receive from UVB rays. UVB is another common acronym used with sunscreen products. UV stands for ultraviolet, and the B stands for burn. So UVB are the ultraviolet rays that can cause the skin to burn. UVA, are ultraviolet rays that can cause aging. A good sunscreen product will use the term “broad spectrum” which means that it has been proven to protect the skin from both UVB and UVA rays. Products that are labeled “broad spectrum” are the ones you want to lean towards. Two birds, one stone!
The numbers on the sunscreen products are also very important. You will often see SPF 15 or 25. These numbers indicate how long the sunscreen product will protect your skin. For example, women with a darker skin tone may start to feel a burn after 20 minutes of sun exposure. An SPF of 15, would protect your skin for 300 minutes which is equal to 5 hours. You want to multiply 20 (amount of minutes it takes to feel a burn) times the SPF 15, to get the total amount of hours you’ll receive sun protection. If you’re not good at math (I suck at it!), just know that most doctor’s recommend an SPF of 15 or 30.
3. Last, but not least, choose a target area. For instance, the Clinique product shown above is specifically for the face. For some people that may be perfect because their bodies may not be exposed to the sun much. However, if you stay in warmer climates you might want to consider getting sunscreen for your body. The goal is to protect your skin at all times, so pay close attention to the areas that you want to protect!
At the end of the day, the skin you have now, is the only skin you will ever have. Invest in you! Ignore the myths about women of color and sunscreen, and start protecting yourself now, so that you can look like Angela Bassett later!
P.S. makeup has sunscreen in it too! The next time you purchase your favorite foundation or BB Cream, check the label!
by Kimberly Wyms