This story is a part of The Melanin Edit, a platform in which Allure will explore every facet of a melanin-rich life — from the most innovative treatments for hyperpigmentation to the social and emotional realities — all while spreading Black pride.
A deeply harmful skin-care misconception that just won’t die is that those with darker complexions don’t need to wear daily sun protection. Now melanin may be magical, but it isn’t sun-resistant. No matter your skin tone, you should be wearing sunscreen every day — even when it’s cloudy or you’re staying indoors.
Frequently skipping sunscreen increases your risk for skin cancer. Michelle Henry, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City, says that even though darker skin types have some natural protection against UV light, the highest possible level is SPF 13, which is below the recommended level of SPF 30. People with darker skin may be less susceptible to skin cancer, but, Henry says, “when those with darker skin are diagnosed with skin cancer the outcomes are typically worse, likely because they are found at later stages.”
In addition to increasing the risk for skin cancer, foregoing sunscreen can also worsen any existing hyperpigmentation. If you’re trying to even your skin tone through treatments, what’s the point if you aren’t using sunscreen? You’re ultimately reversing any of the dark spot-diminishing you want to happen.
Public service announcement aside, let’s face it: Not all sunscreens are made the same. A lot of options on the market are not formulated with darker skin tones in mind, so they end up looking chalky. And who wants to look ghostly? Many formulas also make skin look greasy, which is also not ideal.
“One of the protective characteristics of darker skin — and the reason why we don’t get that crinkly skin — is because our skin’s thicker and oil-producing, [which] is going to stay younger for longer,” says board-certified dermatologist Corey Hartman.
More sunscreens that blend seamlessly on darker complexions are cropping up on the market, so try one of these formulas to keep your skin protected from the sun’s rays — without any white residue in sight.