Wednesday, 21 April 2021 09:33

Melanin Must: Sun Protection & People of Color

Written by   Nichelle Mosley

Warming weather means one is likely to be spending more time outdoors. Caring forskin properly in sunny weather often means pushing past preconceived notions and unclear science to make solid recommendations toclients.



A very common misconception is that people with darker skin do not need to use sunscreen. While it is true that darker skin does not react to the sun the same way that lighter skin tends to, preventingasunburniscertainlynottheonlyreasontowearsunprotectionproducts.Transepidermalwater loss (TEWL), uneven pigmentation, and photoaging are all plenty of reasons for people of color to wear sun protection. 

In addition to topical sun protection products, it is recommendedthat clients invest in a few pieces of clothing with ultraviolet protectionin them.Clothing with an ultraviolet protection factor of 50 allows 1/50th of rays to pass through it, blocking 49 out of 50 of the rays. Clothing and hats with built-in ultraviolet protection are great for ball games, family reunions, or any outdoor event.

If working with a client of any ethnicity tryingto manage the effects of acne, aging, scarring, wrinkling, pigmentation, rosacea, eczema, or skin sensitivity, the client must be using sunscreen daily. Not wearing sun protection topical while attempting to correct these issues is working against the grain.



With the need for sun protection established, how does one know which to choose? There are dozens, maybe hundreds of products out there to choose from.Always go to the ingredient declarations. Be more familiar with the ingredientsa product has than the social media account it was seen on

Forclients, the topicals recommended havezinc oxide or titanium dioxide. These ingredients act by blockingultraviolet rays from entering the skin’s structures. Since ultraviolet A andB rays cannot enter the skin, there isnosignaling for pigmentation or inflammation from heat absorbing chemicals, and there is a much lower risk fortransepidermal water loss in skin. Sensitive skin usually fares better with these active sunscreen ingredients as well.

What makes zinc oxide and titanium dioxide differentfrom other sun protection actives is that they do not work asultraviolet absorbers. Ultraviolet absorbersreceive ultraviolet rays and disperseheat. While that may be helpful for ultraviolet signaling, the heat that is absorbed and dispersed can cause post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. Heat inskin is considered inflammation. Clients concerned with post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, aging, acne, transepidermal water losscouperose skin, or eczema shouldlean towardszinc oxide or titanium dioxide.



Understanding the need for sun protection andwhat to look for in the active ingredients section isimportant. In addition to the active ingredients, there are a few other ingredients to look for as well. Hyaluronic acid (hydrator), green tea (anti-inflammatory agent), and squalene (emollient) are great for soothing skin. The sun protection used and recommended should have skin-soothing ingredients in it, whether they are listed above or not.Antioxidants like vitamins C and vitamin B3are always welcomed additions to a sun protection topical as well. Thesecreate a more well-rounded product. 


Whether assisting a client regarding a course of treatments, considering personally using sun protection topicals, or having a client that thinks their skin does not need sunscreen, the correct decision is always a high-quality sun protection product.




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August 2022

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