How To Choose The Right Sun Protection For Your Skin Type

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Jul. 5 2023, Published 8:05 a.m. ET

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Summer is here and what better way to enjoy the season than spending time in the great outdoors?  But between festivals, barbeques, and outdoor excursions, it’s essential to be cautious of the sun and the damage it can wreak on your skin. With so much information on finding the right kind of sun protection best suited to your skin type and lifestyle, make sure you enter the skincare aisle equipped with the knowledge you need to make an informed decision. 

Skin cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer found in women ages 25-29, according to the Melanoma Research Alliance, and your risk of developing melanoma increases with age, especially for people who do not use adequate sun protection methods. Contrary to popular belief, researchers have found that people of color are prone to developing melanomas without the use of proper skin protection.

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What To Know About Sunscreen

Dr. Michele Green is a cosmetology-board-certified dermatologist in New York City who has experience in assessing and treating a diverse range of skin tones and types. In her experience, there are no exceptions to sun protection, regardless of race, age, or gender. “I see high levels of skin cancer all across the board, but especially in people who spent a lot of time in the sun in their younger years.” 

Green also points out the cosmetic effects of too much sun, including wrinkles, sun spots, broken blood vessels, and melasma, which are patches of discoloration that appear after prolonged UV exposure. 

According to research published by the British Association of Dermatologists, you can establish what kind of sun protection is best for you based on whether you spend more time indoors or outdoors.

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How To Choose Sunscreen And SPF Level

Medical professionals have found that while mineral (or “physical”) sunscreens, which act as a protective layer on the surface of the skin and usually contain ingredients like zinc oxide or titanium, are more common but oftentimes leave a white film behind on the skin—something women of darker skin tones might not find ideal. Chemical sunscreens contain active ingredients that are absorbed into the skin that inactivate UV rays through chemical reactions.

There are many companies that offer both options including women-owned brands like Black Girl Sunscreen, Bolden Skin Care, and SuperGoop. SPF ratings vary from 15 to 100, and the American Academy of Dermatology Association suggests that people must be sure to look for the words “broad spectrum” when choosing a sunscreen product and use one with an SPF rating of 30 or higher.

How To Further Protect Your Skin

Dr. Green also recommends that people take precautions when spending prolonged periods outdoors in the summer. Hats and light layers can help add an extra layer of protection from UV rays that can penetrate through clothing and cause surface-level sun damage. The American Society of Clinical Oncology recommends avoiding the sun between 10 A.M. and 4 P.M. when the sun’s rays are the strongest. And when it comes to being proactive about your skin’s health or address any newfound discoloration, a rash, or unusually uncomfortable sunburn, stay away from the Google diagnosis. “If you see something that’s new or bleeding or worrisome, I tell people to go get it checked out because you’re not going to know,” Green added. “People can’t diagnose themselves.”

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By: Segen Assefa

Segen Assefa is a journalist and a culture curator who uses her writer to bring light to topics in current events, pop culture, and the all of the spaces in between. She has written for publications including Passport Magazine, The Medium, and MadeInTheURL, as well as curating a personal blog and podcasting page.

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