While we celebrate what’s left of summer, there’s no reason to stop protecting your skin.

As a young Black girl with dark skin, the last thing I was thinking about when I was a child was putting on sunscreen. Truth be told, I just assumed I never needed it.

With all the melanin in my skin, I thought I was protected from any damage the sun could do.

Photo: Nancy Meyah

Growing up in Sudan and Egypt, I never heard about sunscreen. It was never really a “thing” for me or anyone around me. Then, I had my first facial at a spa.

I learnt so much about my skin and the microscopic sun damage that occurred over the years. During my chemical peel, I was able to see the tiny moles in my face and the faint freckles that are not visible to the untrained eye.

While looking into some affordable sunscreen products, I enlisted the help of a pharmacist and beautician from my local Shoppers Drug Mart. You can read our conversation below.  

NM: Is my skin tone safe from sun damage?  

Pharmacist: Although having more melanin helps, it does not mean it puts a stop to skin damage overtime.  

NM: What are some things people should know about sunscreen?  

Pharmacist: There are two types of sunscreen: physical and chemical. Physical sunscreens often contain zinc, which creates an actual barrier on the skin. The white or bluish cream-like lotions from some sunscreens is a result of that. Chemical sunscreens are fast-absorbing and do not create a barrier on the skin.

NM: What can you tell me about the different levels of SPF? 

Pharmacist: A higher SPF number does not ensure better coverage on the skin. If you are outside being active and sweating, you will need to reapply your sunscreen regardless. SPF 30 and/or SPF 60 will need to be reapplied once you’ve been outdoors for a long period of time.  

NM: What are the top three SPF brands you would suggest for all skin types, shades and tones?  

Pharmacist: Vichy Idéal Soleil Sport SPF 60 is a lotion sunscreen that is perfect for the whole body. It provides UVA and SPF protection. If you have an oily skin type, it has a matte finish and leaves no white residue. La Roche Posey 30 FPS/SPF provides protection from UVA. This formula is lightweight, goes on dry with a matte finish, and leaves no marks. It’s suitable for sensitive skin type. Bio Derma SPF 40 UVA‘s formula gives off the same effects as the others, but its a spray products with an oily base. It’s great for those with dry skin and leaves no oily residue.

In the end, talk about Black people not needing to protect their skin from the sun needs to end.

Start looking deeper into the overall health of your skin. With the amount of pollutants we take in, we can all benefit from a little TLC. It’s never too late.

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