Despite what you've heard, African-Americans can indeed develop skin cancer. VERY dark skin can have a natural SPF of about 13. (Don't be fooled, most of us do not have SPF 13 skin.) But dermatologists say you need an SPF of at least 15 to be protected. They recommend wearing sunscreen daily. But if you're going to spend any significant time outdoors, it's important to not only slather on sunscreen before you leave the house, but also to reapply it after a couple of hours.
So what should you look for when you're ready to buy a sunscreen? First of all, not all sunscreens are created equal. In fact, some barely live up to the name. But here's one thing all the experts agree on - an effective sunscreen must protect against both UVA and UVB rays. That's because while UVB rays get most of the blame for sunburn, both kinds of rays contribute to skin cancer.
I won't lie, we had to go through quite a few tubes of sunscreen before we found ones that didn't mess with our skin - we're all considered "sensitive" in my household - or make us look like the white shadow. Much could be written about the challenge of finding an effective sunscreen for non-pale skin.
Our personal experience is that anyone with sensitive skin should avoid most sunscreens with the ingredients avobenzone or oxybenzone. I wore a sunscreen with these ingredients during a trip to the zoo on Father's Day and I'm still scratching. If you're a Sensitive Sally like me, don't do it. Unfortunately avobenzone and oxybenzone are in most of the broad-spectrum sunscreens found in your neighborhood drugstores. They are damned difficult to avoid unless you're willing to hunt around or purchase your sunscreens online. That's why I'm doing the leg work for you.
Now if you're going to avoid chemical suncreen ingredients like we do, that leaves you with natural/mineral sunscreens. Natural suncreen contains zinc oxide or titanium dioxide (or both), which used to leave a slight white cast to the skin. But now many companies have discovered ways to get those particles very small - not nano sized, but- small enough to wipe-out or dramatically cut down on the ghastly tinge. For now we like and use:
Jason Mineral Based Sun Block SPF 30+
All Terrain KidSport SPF30 Oxybenzone-Free Natural Sunscreen
Trukid Sunny Days SPF 30+ Natural Sunscreen
Aubrey Organics SPF 15 Saving Face
You can find more options on the EWG list and on similar sites on the internet.
But now it's your turn. Please sound off. What is YOUR experience with sun exposure and suncreen? Or lack of??