Almost all of us love a tan or at least a little sunkissed glow! Even people with naturally olive, tan or brown skin enjoy the bronzed appearance that some sun can give you.
Unfortunately, the sun’s UV rays are also the biggest risk factor for skin cancers like basal cell cancer, squamous cell cancer and malignant melanoma. These skin cancers are serious but are quite rare (but not non-existent) in those with darker skin.
If skin cancer isn’t a big issue in patients with darker skin, then do they still need sun protection? Yes! Everyone should practice sun protection on a daily basis.
Here are my sun protection tips for people with olive, tan, brown or dark brown skin:
Use a moisturizer with sunscreen every morning.
SPF 30 or above is a must. Apply to the face, hands, neck and other sun-exposed areas.
Use a product that looks good on your skin.
It’s no secret that many popular sunscreens look pasty, bluish or grayish on even the lightest of ethnic skin types. While Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide (physical blockers) are excellent sunblocking agents, oftentimes they just don’t blend into dark skin. There are some good options with physical blockers like Obagi Sun Shield, and EltaMD UV Clear. Multiprotection by Revision does not contain physical blockers and leaves no residue.
I specifically use the term sun-protect instead of sun-avoid. I would never want one of my friends or patients to try to stay away from the beach, little league games, or a run in the park. Instead, run, golf and play tennis in the early morning or early evening. Wear wide-brimmed hats and sun-protective clothing. Wear sunscreen – SPF 50 or above when getting intense sun and re-apply every 2-3 hours.
Don’t be in Denial.
I’ve often heard, “Oh, I don’t get any sun” or “I’m never in the sun.” It’s not just sunbathing and tanning beds that counts though. It’s the everyday sun exposure that adds up over time. We get sun even walking to and from our cars! Just like counting calories when you’re on a diet, they all count and eventually catch up with you.
If you are doing your best with sunscreen and sun protection and still find yourself getting areas of discoloration or sun freckles, you may want to see a dermatologist.