Friday, May 31, 2013

Skin Care || Black Women, The Sun, and Our Skin

Can we get sunburn?
Yes.  Whether you are fair or dark, you can get sunburned though the lighter you are the more susceptible you are.  (I'm medium-dark and have been sunburned a couple of times.)

Can we develop melanoma (a rare but dangerous skin cancer)?
Yes.  Though rare, black people can develop melanoma.  The root of Bob Marley's death was acral lentiginous melanoma (that originated under his toenail) and ultimately spread to other parts of his body.  As a matter of fact, "acral lentiginous melanoma makes up approximately 50% of diagnosed melanomas in Asians and individuals with dark skin."[1]

Should we take protective measures against sun exposure?
Yes.  Exposure to the sun can increase any risk of developing sunburn or melanoma.  Additionally, it can hasten the signs of aging in our skin.



Anonymous said...

Yes, it's important for everyone to protect themselves from overexposure to the sun. However, I think that sunburn and melanoma risk for most black people is grossly overblown and is really just a fear campaign to line the pockets of the sunscreen industry.

Bob Marley is a bad example because, even though he is commonly viewed as black he was actually biracial (his father was white).

According to Dr. Oz and several articles that I've read, most black people naturally have SPF 30 so what's the point of spending your hard-earned money to buy what God's given you for free?

In my opinion, don't worry about incidental sun exposure (such as when running errands)--it's a good time to work on making some vitamin D (which many black people outside of tropical regions lack). And be smart about being in the sun for long periods of time. I have been to sunny regions (Africa and the Caribbean) where black people have lived for hundreds of years without having melanoma as a concern. In these regions, you won't find people sitting out in the sun for long periods of time--they wear hats, scarves and take shade whenever they can.

Loo said...

I agree with the part in your last paragraph in reference to blacks who live in Africa: You won't find people there sitting out in the sun. During my visits to Nigeria, I did not get a single sunburn. However, my few instances of sunburn ever have all been in North America. The difference? I was sitting in the sun at the beach in the latter cases whereas in Nigeria, I was always running for shade (more so to stay cool than to avoid direct sun).

Additionally, blacks in certain parts of Africa are not as "mixed" as here in the United States. Hence, some black people here may be predisposed to a risk of developing melanoma due to lineage traced to the Irish, etc.

While melanoma is rare, we are not exempt from developing it. I read a couple of sad stories yesterday, including one involving a 22-year-old black woman who had to have her nose removed because of melanoma. All she did was run daily (or every other day) for 2 hours. The sun exposure was apparently too much.


akainatsu said...

We should all be careful, no matter where we live. I know I'm on the darker end of the black scale, and I use oils as my SPF. Wheatgerm has a natural SPF of 20, and carrotseed oil has a natural SPF of 38-40. Many suncreens, the two top ingredients that block the UV rays are carrotseed oil and zinc oxide. Both of which are natural, one an oil, the other a mineral.

Both work to block out the rays, now oils help to create a barrier on your skin and hair, and I am much happier putting an oil on my hair over commercial sunscreen. So I use a combo of carrotseed oil, wheatgerm oil, grapeseed, jojoba, coconut, and castor oil. All of these oils get used from top to bottom of my body, excluding my face.

For my face I use jojoba, grapeseed and carrotseed oil. It has worked wonders and I have had less damage last year than the year before, and this year looks like a really hot year! So I hope that this will continue to work.

Loo said...

Agree ... at the end of the day, we should all be careful.


Loo said...

predisposed to a *higher* risk. (second paragraph)

Anonymous said...

i'm african (born and raised and have only african ancestors as far back as I know) living in the states and had a mole removed that had potential to become melanoma. I also had a growth between my toes that thankfully turned out to be nothing. I'm now watching a mole that is getting bigger by the month on the bottom of my body and have to get that checked out. Always better to be safe than sorry because you or your loved ones could be the "exception".