Yes, Brown Skin Humans Still Have to Wear Sunscreen - Here’s My Favourite No White Cast SPF

Sadaf Razi sunscreenSadaf Razi sunscreen

Serious question: raise your hand if you’re a melanin-rich human who thinks they don’t have to wear sunscreen because of their skin tone?  

A year ago, I would have raised my hand. 

You see, I grew up believing the myth that brown skin people don’t have to wear sunscreen because we don’t really burn. Ohhhhh my goodness, was I wrongity wrong wrong wrong.

They say it often takes something happening close to home for a message to sink in, and this is what happened with some of my family members.

Many of us shared the same nonchalant attitude towards sun protection, until one of our loved ones developed a melanoma under his full head of thick, black hair. 

Now, wearing sunscreen for me is a non-negotiable. When it comes to skin care, there’s nothing more important than sunscreen to truly care for and protect your skin, no matter its tone.

But if you're still confused about whether melanated skin needs sunscreen, I asked Melbourne-based dermatologist Dr Shyamalar Gunatheesan to debunk the myths surrounding darker skin tones and sun damage.

Dark Skin and Sunscreen - Do You Need to Wear It?

Perhaps one of the biggest misconceptions around dark skin is that if you have it, you don’t need to wear sunscreen.

Dr Gunatheesan says this is simply not true.

"None of us are immune to the harmful effects of the sun," she tells me.

Sure, it can be said those of us with a darker skin tone are less susceptible to sunburn and skin cancer, but based on the 6 Fitzpatrick types of skin that show melanin quality and its reaction to sun exposure, Dr Gunatheesan explains dark skin is actually more prone to the common signs of sun damage when exposed to the sun, like hyperpigmentation, age spots and melasma.

You can listen to Natalie Fornasier's experience of living with melanoma in this episode of the Beauty IQ Uncensored podcast below.

Is Dark Skin Naturally Protected From the Sun? What About Dark Skin and Skin Cancer?

Melanin and pigment offer some natural protection (up to 13.4 SPF in darker skin) but let's be clear - you still need to be diligent about sun protection.

The role of sun exposure in causing skin cancers in darker skin has yet to be proven, but Dr Gunatheesan says we shouldn't rely on our "endogenous melanin" to protect our skin.

Another important fact: Yes, skin cancer is less common in darkly pigmented persons than in light-skinned Caucasians, but it is often associated with increased morbidity and mortality.

In other words, applying sunscreen is the smartest decision you can make for your skin and your health.

Sun Damage and Dark Skin.

We know sun damage is the number one thing that ages our skin, but does this apply to those of us with dark skin?

"Yes, even in dark skin types, 17.5 per cent of UVA rays (the rays that cause ageing) pass through the skin," Dr Gunatheesan says.

So, if you want to delay premature ageing, lather your sunscreen on every day. I got carded at the bottle-o last week and I’m mostly crediting this to my sunscreen.

What Is the Best Sunscreen For Dark Skin?

Sadaf Razi applying La Roche Posay sunscreenSadaf Razi applying La Roche Posay sunscreen

The best sunscreen, no matter your skin tone, is the one you'll wear every day.

That said, an SPF 50+ will give you your best protection against sun damage and skin cancer.

In my experience so far, La Roche-Posay Anthelios Invisible Fluid Facial Sunscreen SPF 50+ is the best sunscreen for dark skin in Australia.

My La Roche Posay Sunscreen Review.

Sadaf Razi applying La Roche Posay sunscreenSadaf Razi applying La Roche Posay sunscreen

Packed in a sleek, thin bottle, this mighty protector is the hero of my skincare arsenal and here’s why. 

First of all, my brown skin is overjoyed the days of sunscreen leaving a white cast are gone - sunscreens have come a long way with both their formulas and their finishes.

I absolutely love this sunscreen's lightweight, moisturiser-like consistency that genuinely does look 'barely there'. Look how seamlessly it glides on! 

La Roche-Posay Anthelios Invisible Fluid Facial Sunscreen SPF 50+ doesn't just look good. It also works really hard to protect you under your hat and sunnies with its broad spectrum SPF 50+ protection.

Honestly, we could all use this kind of support in 2020, no?

This formula is great for sensitive skin types, too. It's fragrance-free and dermatologically tested.

The thin fluid texture absorbs beautifully into the skin, doesn’t leave behind a white veil and never dries greasy.

These are the reasons why it’s my sunscreen of choice to wear under makeup. Exhibit A below.

Sadaf Razi applying La Roche Posay sunscreenSadaf Razi applying La Roche Posay sunscreen

A final note on sunscreen for darker skin tones:

If this article hasn't convinced you to wear your sunscreen all year round, let these wise words from Rihanna sink in...

"You gon have wrinkles if you think SPF is seasonal!"

You heard the woman.