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There’s a rumor going around that black don’t crack. People of darker skin tones believe that their skin is more powerful than kryptonite, and can withstand anything. Black women are always the last to sign on when it comes to implementing healthy lifestyle habits, clean diet, and skincare. They wholeheartedly believe that their melanin is enough to withstand anything. But nothing could be further from the truth.
MELANIN, GENETICS, AND ITS ROLE IN ANTI-AGING
Melanin plays a small role in the aging process. First and foremost we must look at the role genetics plays in the anti-aging process, and assess if we were blessed with good genes or not. All DNA was not created equal! That said, having good genes has nothing to do with melanin.
Some people were born with “super genes”. They age slowly, and look extremely youthful for their age. Anyone can possess “super genes” regardless of race and skin tone. Skin tone has absolutely nothing to do with your DNA structure, genetic make up, and how that affects the aging process.
WHAT IS PHOTOAGING?
Photoaging also known as dermatoheliosis is a term used to describe the damage that occurs when the skin is exposed to UVA and UVB rays. Photoaging takes time to show its effects on the skin, but is responsible for 90% of the skin's visible changes. Premature aging is caused by exposure to UV rays, and manifests itself as fine lines and wrinkles. This occurs when we do not protect our skin from sun exposure during our younger years.
Photoaging is the number one cause of accelerating the aging process. In order to prevent premature aging, we should protect ourselves from the sun’s damaging UV rays.
WHAT ABOUT CHRONOLOGICAL AGING?
Everybody starts to age from the minute they are born. It’s a fact of life. Nobody escapes this whether or not you have good genes, and have had limited sun exposure. Chronological aging is accelerated by photoaging, lifestyle habits and diet. So one must make conscious decisions in order to slow down the hands of time. But, keep in mind chronological aging cannot be stopped.
SO WHAT DOES MELANIN HAVE TO DO WITH IT?
MYTH #1: PEOPLE OF DARKER SKIN TONES DON'T NEED TO WEAR SPF
FALSE: Many POC especially Black people have been led to believe that melanin will give you complete protection from UV damage. It was believed that the deeper your skin tone, the more natural protection from UVA and UVB rays. And many Black people prided themselves by basking in the sun without SPF protection.
The most horrible thing about UV damage is that it's hard to see the effects until it's too late. By this time the sun has wreaked havoc on your skin, and the damage is irreversible.
TRUE: While melanin does offer darker complexions some form of sun protection, it’s not enough to ward off harmful UVA and UVB rays.
Some scientists believe that darker skin tones absorb between 50-70% less of UV rays than paler skin tones. Darker skin tones have a natural skin protection factor (SPF) of up to 13, and filter twice as much UV radiation as pale skin tones. While darker skin tones are less susceptible to sunburn, they still suffer the effects of UV damage such as sun spots and wrinkles.
Unfortunately melanin isn’t enough to protect the skin again UV radiation. Scientists recommend a minimum of SPF 30 regardless of skin tone during all outdoor activities. I personally recommend a minimum of SPF 50.
MYTH #2: BLACK DON'T CRACK
FALSE: Yes it does!
People of color, especially black people have been led to believe that melanin and genetics are synonymous. If that were the case then all black people would age at the same rate.
At the age of 46, I’ve seen black people who are younger than me that look a lot older than me. I’ve also seen black people that are same age as me that look old enough to be my grandmother.
What I am trying to point out here, is that there’s much more that goes into the aging process than just melanin. Skin tone isn’t enough to keep you looking youthful.
TRUE: Black don’t crack if properly cared for. With proper diet and healthy lifestyle habits, black skin will age gracefully.
It has been proven that darker skin is thicker, which makes it resilient and able to withstand more. I think this is where the saying “black don’t crack” came from.
But does it need any less care than other skin tones? No. In fact, it needs the same amount.
Analogy: If you purchased a Bentley, would you leave it outside to get weathered by the elements? No, you wouldn’t. It would be kept in a garage (most probably covered), washed every week, and taken for routine maintenance checks. Just because you own a Bentley doesn’t mean that it requires less care than any other car. If you started to neglect your Bentley, rest assured that it would deteriorate just like any other vehicle.
The same thing applies to skin. Just because dark skin has a small amount of SPF protection, may filter out a small percentage of UV rays, and is thicker than other skin tones doesn’t make it any less worthy of proper care.
To Learn more about healthy lifestyle habits, visit the lifestyle resource page.
Visit the Pro-aging resource page to learn more about your skin type and which products work best.
THE BEST SUNSCREENS FOR DARK SKIN
BLACK GIRL SUNSCREEN
SHISEIDO UV CLEAR STICK PROTECTOR SPF 50
CERAVE TINTED SUNSCREEN WITH SPF 30
UNSUN MINERAL TINTED FACE SUNSCREEN SPF 30
ILIA SUPER SERUM SKIN TINT SPF 40
PAULA'S CHOICE ULTRA LIGHT DAILY FLUID SPF 30
LA ROCHE-POSAY ANTHELIOS MINERAL TINTED SUNSCREEN SPF 50