Guest Author - April Alisa Marquette
Often people with pigmented skin, darker skin, skin of color, believe they don't have to worry about sun damage. True sun worshippers, people with skin of color feel they cannot burn. We love the beach, cruises, our island getaways, our ocean-side motherlands, and our seaside homelands. We are even aware of what some others are not -- that we too 'tan.' Our skin gets darker, but sometimes we mistakenly believe we will not burn, or suffer sun damage to our precious skin.
Well the truth is no skin is exempt from the ravages of the sun. Although the sun in all her glory, offers vitamin D, and aids us to absorb calcium that can strengthen our bones, we must worship and love her with caution. True, darker skin has a higher level of natural sun-protection than fair to white skin. However, the very pigment (melanin, a class of compounds that forms pigment, color) that protects, will not -- if one's skin is damaged, bruised, blemished, or scraped, or if one has a medical condition, or if products and cosmetics are used that caution limited sun exposure; and in many cases we may not immediately feel it, but the sun does affect us.
Let me share a true short story. Years back a male friend and I were going to the beach. I suggested he take sunscreen, along with his towel and all the other stuff that we were carrying. Voice booming, he stated that as a man of color he would not get sunburned. Failing, I tried to explain. Well out there, we frolicked, but often I retreated, to relax beneath my large colorful beach umbrella. While I enjoyed music, the sound of the surf, and the view, Mister remained in the sun, in the water. When our day was done, he admitted to feeling 'funny.' Then after a while he was forced to reveal that his skin was kind of achey -- not his words -- especially on his nose, shoulders, and back. I did not say I told you so, but we both knew. He'd suffered sunburn. Suffice it to say, later on he was in near agony, and later still, he was horrified to find his skin peeling ... and don't you dare laugh. Okay, you can, maybe just a little; but I recounted that to remind you, ethnic beauties, that when the temperatures soar, that is not the time to become lax. You need sun protection. For the face, choose sunblock according to skin type. If you have oily skin, then use a non-comedogenic product that will not clog pores. Suncreen with UVB protection or with an SPF (a sun protection factor) of about 20 or 30 should do nicely. If you can find it, titanium dioxide or zinc oxide should be one of the ingredients in your sun protection. Choose a moisturizing formula for dry or aging skin. And to remain protected, reapply after prolonged periods of time.
I would never advise you to avoid the sun. We have got to play soccer, and bare skin on the beach. We also have to drive and walk out of doors. There are art fairs, or we will attend events like The Zora Neale Hurston or Essence Music Festivals. We all love a fun family barbecue too. Nevertheless, if you're going to the amusement park, or will watch a game of pick-up basketball; if your daughter is the greatest softball pitcher, or maybe youíll putter around in your yard, don't forget the sunblock, the sunscreen, or the sun protection. All Iím saying is simply remember to protect your beautiful ethnic skin. Then by all means go, enjoy the golden glory that we call the sunshine.