Do Black people need to wear sunscreen? It’s an age-old question that has a definite answer; yes!
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the average American spends 93 percent of their life indoors. To clarify, 87 percent of that indoors time is actually indoors and the other 6 percent of that is spent in an automobile. Which means, the average American only spends about 12 hours per week outside!
Wow, that doesn’t seem like a lot of time does it? If you were thinking this then you are absolutely right!
While research shows that we are not spending a lot of time outdoors, the time that we are spending outside can be dangerous if we don’t take the proper precautions. Americans spend the majority of their time outdoors during the summer when the weather is nicer and the sun shines longer. With that, however, comes the overlooked damage to your skin the sun can cause if you are not protecting yourself with sunscreen.
This leads me to my next point: who really needs sunscreen and why do we need it? The simple answer to this question is that everyone does.
Let me repeat that. Everyone needs sunscreen.
There is a myth that African Americans don’t need to use sunscreen. People will argue (I literally had someone argue with me about this) that African Americans a) do not sunburn and b) cannot get skin cancer. These statements are not only ridiculous, but they are extremely false!
There are some factors that may influence people to think these myths are true and it is important to note them. African Americans have a high amount of melanin which gives color to our skin, eyes, and hair. The more melanin, the darker your skin.
People of African descent with higher amounts of melanin have a natural SPF factor which can be up to 13 compared to Caucasians which are about 3-4. The natural SPF of our skin shields us from UV sun rays, and can thus decrease our risk of skin cancer and showing signs of aging. You may have heard the expression, “Black don’t crack” and were either confused or not sure what that meant. Because our skin has a natural protectant from UV rays, we are less likely to show signs of aging caused by the sun such as wrinkles, fine, lines, and age spots.
Although African Americans have a higher SPF than Caucasians which protects us from UV rays and reduces our risk of skin cancer, we still need sunscreen in order to fully protect ourselves. And yes, we can tan when our skin is exposed to sun. We can also burn if exposed for too long. Regardless of your skin color, everyone can sunburn.
Check out the blog from last week written by our intern Colin Shassberger to find out more about sunscreen and what SPF really means.