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Let’s Talk SPF

SPF should be a skincare routine staple for black women, yet many women completely skip the step. Growing up, black kids have heard their parents reassure them that their melanin protects them from the sun’s harmful UV rays, reducing sunscreen to an occasional beach vacation commodity. However, the blame does not fall entirely on black parenting; the medical field has not properly researched and trained medical professionals on how to manage black skin, which has been the root of many misconceptions and preventable skin diseases. Furthermore, by the time black people are diagnosed with skin cancer, the cancer is usually in an advanced stage due to years of neglect.


Better information is becoming more accessible due to the increasing popularity of skincare on Twitter. Among the most popular estheticians are users Tiara Willis (@MakeupForWOC) and Nayamka Roberts-Smith (@LABeautyologist), two licensed black women who make professional skincare knowledge tangible to the everyday woman.


According to both Willis and Roberts-Smith, daily sunscreen application has both aesthetic and health benefits. Contrary to what many people believe due to decades of overstating melanin’s role in sun protection, Black people are not exempt from sunburn, photo-aging, and hyperpigmentation. Although melanin does protect the skin from harmful rays, melanin is not enough on its own. Applying sunscreen on the face daily not only helps prevent skin discoloration and hyperpigmentation that is worsened by the sun, but it defends against skin cancer.


For black women, deciding to incorporate sunscreen into the skincare is only half of the battle. Even the word sunscreen can trigger distinct memories of having white/purple casts post-sunscreen application. However, sunscreen does not have to be synonymous with ashy. There are many sunscreens on the market that blend into the skin properly, including Black Girl Sunscreen SPF 30, Supergoop Unseen Sunscreen, and PURITO Centella Green Level Safe Sun.


It is important to apply sunscreen even when indoors because the sun’s UV rays can travel through windows. When applying the sunscreen, use the “two finger” rule, meaning apply sunscreen along the length of your index and middle fingers and rub into the skin. The saying “Black Don’t Crack” can only carry the skin so far. SPF is a mandatory step in establishing a holistic and protective skincare routine.

Kyndall Dunn is a junior honors media management, business administration minor at Howard University from Atlanta, GA. She is a content contributor and topic editor for Howard University's Her Campus chapter. Instagram: @kyndunn
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