We’ve all heard the saying that “black don’t crack” which is usually said to mean that Black women age gracefully. Some people do however, perceive this to also mean that Black women do not have to worry about what over-exposure to the sun can do to their skin.
While it is true that a Black person can be in the sun for a long time and not get sun burned the way a fairer complexioned person would, it is important to be mindful of overexposure to the sun. Some exposure to the sun is great because it is a much needed source of vitamin D, but again, it must be done mindfully.
When asked the question of whether dark skinned people need sunscreen, Dr Mehmet Oz of the popular Dr Oz Show answered as follows:
It’s true that dark skin is higher in the pigment melanin than light skin, which can provide some protection against skin cancer and aging. This is why fair-skinned people are more likely to get a sunburn, and to get skin cancer, than dark-skinned people. Yet it’s possible for everyone, no matter how dark their skin color, to get both sunburns and skin cancer. African Americans should wear a broad-spectrum, UVA/UVB sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 whenever they go outside. For more information about sun protection, consult a dermatologist.
Use a sunscreen and wear protective clothing to safeguard your skin from the sun’s harmful rays.
Dr Marshelya D. Wilson, M.D., a female African American medical doctor also answered the question and she said,
It has become a misconception that African Americans do not need to use sunscreen. Many believe that African-American skin has melanin which provides adequate protection. This is only partially true. Melanin does provide protection but only minimally, about an SPF 15. Ultraviolet rays still have the potential to damage skin and lead to often-undiagnosed skin cancers. African Americans do need to protect their skin with sunscreen, at least SPF 30.