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3 Reasons Why SPF is the Holy Grail of Perfecting Your Skin

by Tamika Morrison Okeleke 6 months ago in face
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Whoever made up the phrase "Black Don't Crack" wasn't telling the whole truth. In fact, Black, Brown and White and any other color will crack if SPF isn't part of a skincare regimen.

3 Reasons Why SPF is the Holy Grail of Perfecting Your Skin
Photo by Audrey Fretz on Unsplash

Whoever made up the phrase "Black Don't Crack" wasn't telling the whole truth. In fact, Black, Brown and White and any other color will crack if SPF isn't part of a skincare regimen. This misleading mantra that Black and Brown people have been following can lead to serious yet preventable skin issues down the line.

Sun Protection Factor or SPF is a well-known ingredient used to protect against the three ultraviolet (UV) rays emitted from the sun that causes harm. It's the 'holy grail' of protecting skin from UVA, UVB, and UVC rays. UVA oversees aging, UVB causes burning or skin burns and UVC causes cancer.

The role of melanin in the skin is to absorb and scatter energy from the sun's UV rays. Having a dark complexion reduces the risk of sun damage, particularly as it pertains to skin aging and skin cancer formation but it's not enough to give Melanated people immunity. People with white or pale skin have the least melanin and culturally use SPF for these protections.

SPF Protects Against Skin Cancer

When we think of skin cancer, we typically think of those with white or pale skin being more susceptible to developing skin cancer. But people with melanated skin are also prone to getting skin cancer which is hard to diagnose in dark skin. For them, skin cancer is often not detected until it’s too late. You can thank overexposure to UVB and UVC rays for this.

"Skin burning shows up in black skin as flaking or darkening on the skin," explains Nzinga Braswell, a licensed esthetician in Atlanta and CEO of Her Face Beauty. "If you have a dark complexion and you're constantly allowing your skin to be sunburned it can result in a dark cast near your cheekbones, along your contour line, on the forehead or along the jawline."

Braswell highly suggests SPF of 30 and up to her clients who are majority African American or Latinx. "SPF blocks all the UVA rays from the sun and its damaging effects shows up in different ways." As an esthetician, Braswell is unable to diagnose, but she can detect and recommend clients seek out a dermatologist or other healthcare professional if she notices something that causes concern.

SPF is Effective in Treating Hyperpigmentation

SPF is an essential ingredient to lessen the effects of dark spots or hyperpigmentation which is specific to black skin. These areas of hyperpigmentation occur as the result of sun exposure, tanning or develop because of inflammation of the skin.

When it comes to pigmentation, SPF acts as a barrier by preventing or slowing down the tanning process which will darken any pigmentation issues. "SPF is a protective layer to the skin, specifically, it enhances the effectiveness of hyperpigmentation medication," Braswell explains most of her clients seek out aesthetic services to treat hyperpigmentation and other skin issues but are not aware of the benefits that a regimen of SPF can provide in preventing and treating common skin issues unique to black and brown skin.

"Clients that have hyperpigmentation issues often use products to help lessen the appearance, however, these products often thin out the skin. Not only does SPF aid in making these products more effective, but it also adds a protective layer against thinning of the skin."

SPF Slows Down Premature Aging

UVA causes almost all forms of skin aging on all skin types; it damages the collagen and elastin in the skin and generates free radicals. SPF is one of the main ingredients needed to effectively slow down premature aging and protect against wrinkles and fine lines.

According to Braswell, UVA rays speed up aging in everyone. "SPF slows down this [aging] process. Our skin is more resistant to the sun but not immune from its powerful rays."

Evidence shows that using sunscreen every day helps slow down the skin’s aging process and when used with a skin moisturizer, it's a powerful anti-aging mechanism. A study by the Influential Annals of Internal Medicine that followed more than 900 people over a four-year period suggests people who use broad-spectrum sunscreen on a daily basis experience 24 percent less skin aging than those who use sunscreen intermittently. It also found participants in their 40s and 50s who started regular sunscreen applications showed reduced signs of skin aging.

Don't get us wrong, we love the Sun -- it provides the best source of Vitamin D needed for optimal health but if we want to keep our melanin magical, SPF proves to be the holy grail to keep it all intact.

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About the author

Tamika Morrison Okeleke

Writing w/a passion for innovation, imagination and wanderlust focused on self-help/relationships, health, and wellness, yoga, food + wine. Feeling inspired and generous? Support my work with a tip and follow @1stLadyofPR on IG & Twitter.

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