May is SKIN CANCER AWARENESS MONTH and the answer to the question above is YES! YES!! YES!!! AND YES!!!!
Your skin is the largest and one of the most visible organs in your body. It enables you to sense cold, heat, pain, and vibration, as well as rough or smooth surfaces. Your skin also plays an important role in the production of vitamin D, which is essential to bone formation. This production of vitamin D takes place with the help of sunlight.
However, there is increasing danger in excessive exposure of the skin to sunlight.
What is Skin cancer and who is at risk of getting affected?
Skin cancer — the abnormal growth of skin cells — most often develops on skin exposed to the sun. But this common form of cancer can also occur on areas of your skin not ordinarily exposed to sunlight. There are three major types of skin cancer — basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma.
Melanoma is the most dangerous form of skin cancer.
Checking your skin for suspicious changes can help detect skin cancer at its earliest stages. You can also reduce your risk of skin cancer by limiting or avoiding exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation and wearing sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30.
On the matter of Sunscreen…
I used to be one of those persons who believed that sunscreen was only for oyinbo people who were out on the beach having the best summer ever. Wrong!
Every skin type and color needs sunscreen. It is true that dark skin people have more melanin – the pigment that gives human skin, hair, and eyes their color, than white people and this helps to protect them from harmful ultraviolet rays however, dark people actually do need extra protection – usher in some SUNSCREEN!
This is because skin cancer in patients with dark skin is often diagnosed in its later stages when it’s more difficult to treat. Hence regular daily use of an SPF 30 or higher sunscreen reduces the risk of developing melanoma and other skin cancers by 50 percent.
What is Sunscreen and how can I choose the right one?
According to Wikipedia:
Sunscreen, also known as sunblock, sun cream or suntan lotion, is a lotion, spray, gel, foam (such as an expanded foam lotion or whipped lotion), stick or other topical product that absorbs or reflects some of the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation and thus helps protect against sunburn.
There are so many sunscreens out in the market and it can be tricky to find the right type for your skin tone and type. We have mineral sunscreens (physical sunscreen) and chemical sunscreens.
Physical sunscreens usually act as a physical barrier between the sun and your skin. It contains minerals — such as zinc oxide or titanium dioxide — that act as UV filters by reflecting the sun’s harmful rays before they are able to penetrate the layers of our skin.
Chemical Sunscreens, on the other hand, absorb the UV filters. If an ingredient list includes octinoxate, homosalate, octocrylene, oxybenzone, octisalate, and/or avobenzone, these are UVA-protecting ingredients, and it’s a chemical sunscreen.
The key is to choose a sunscreen with a high SPF and broad spectrum.
SPF simply means Sun Protection Factor. It is a measure of how well a sunscreen will protect skin from UVB rays, the kind of radiation that causes sunburn, damages skin, and can contribute to skin cancer.
This means that If your skin would normally burn after 10 minutes in the sun, applying an SPF 15 sunscreen would allow you to stay in the sun without burning for approximately 150 minutes (a factor of 15 times longer). This is a rough estimate that depends on skin type, the intensity of sunlight and amount of sunscreen used.
Broad spectrum SPF, on the other hand, refers to sunscreens that protect the skin from both UVA and UVB rays. Even with a high SPF (sun protection factor), if a sunscreen isn’t a broad spectrum, you won’t be protected from all UVA rays.
For best protection, experts recommend using a minimum SPF sunscreen of 15, applying the proper amount (2mg/cm2 of skin, or about one ounce for full body coverage), and reapplying every 2 hours.
What are the best sunscreens for dark skin?
One challenge dark skin people have when it comes to sun protection is that many sunscreens in the market usually leave a white cast.
For this reason, it is a STRUGGLE to find a good sunscreen that is formulated with black people in mind. The good thing is black people are becoming more aware and cosmetic brands have come to realize that dark skin people need proper representation in their market.
Brands like Neutrogena, Aveeno, CosRX, Missha, SEBAMED, Eucerin and a host of others have successfully formulated sunscreens that do not leave a white cast and also offer great protection.
I recently got my hands on the SEBAMED Multi Protect Sun Lotion and I did a mini review on my IGTV Channel. It is a physical sunscreen with a high SPF and broad spectrum. It also doesn’t leave a white cast and it’s pocket-friendly too!
UPDATE (May 2020) : I found way better sunscreens great for dark skin. Check them out here.
I’ll be making a list of the top sunscreens that are great for dark skin people and also reasonably priced. Be sure to look out for that post.
Other ways to protect your skin from melanoma
1. Protect yourself from the sun especially between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., when the sun’s rays are strongest.
2. Even on cloudy days, use a broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects against UVA and UVB rays and that has a sun protection factor of 15 or greater.
3. Reapply sunscreen every two hours when outdoors, especially if you are swimming or perspiring.
4. Wear protective, tightly woven clothing. Dark colors give more protection.
5. Wear a hat with at least a four-inch brim and sunglasses with ultraviolet protective lenses.
6. Stay in the shade whenever possible.
Got any questions? Feel free to drop them in the comments section.
Until next time,
Don’t forget to STAY CONNECTED!