(Fotolia)

One of the biggest myths out there is that black folks don’t need to worry about the sun.

While people with brown skin may not visibly or easily “burn” or need a tan, melanin of all shades needs protection, rejuvenation and general self care.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, your skin is in fact the largest organ on your body and deserves the highest levels of care.

We chatted with a 20-year veteran dermatologist, Dr. Rosemarie Ingleton, about how to prepare our many beautiful shades of brown for summer.  Here are her top tips and insights:

(Courtesy Dr. Ingleton)
  1. Your melanin is an advantage, but it needs support.

“Think of your melanin as a filter. It is not a block,” says Dr. Ingleton.  “The sun still gets through it. It’s just a layer that sun has to get through first, so you have a little protection.  If you don’t use any sunscreen at all, ultimately you are going to tan.  But ultimately you are also destroying your collagen that’s deep in your skin– that’s what we worry about with the sun.”

2. Black folks do get skin cancer.

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States, per the CDC.  While we are in the minority, black people still represent 1 percent of new skin cancer cases. 

“We also worry that [our] skin cells are going to change, and you could get skin cancer too because we do get skin cancer,” says Dr. Ingleton.  “Because we have that filter, that doesn’t mean it’s like a get out of jail free card. We do have to protect it.”

3. A lack of sunscreen can darken acne spots or blemishes.

“The biggest thing that I talk to people about who have skin of color [is that] with sunscreen, you are trying to prevent [spots] that are dark already from getting darker,” says Dr. Ingleton, referring to blemishes and scars.

“Like if you have acne and it left a whole bunch of spots, if you don’t wear sunscreen, those spots are going take their own sweet time going away because you walk out and you don’t have a filter on your skin.”

4. Protecting your skin now, can keep your skin even into your elderly years.

We all know the phrase black don’t crack! But just like anything else, you must make an investment early to see the outcome you want.

“I think as we age, as people of color, we start to get all kinds of colors– You get a brown up here, you get a light color here,” Dr. Ingleton says pointing to different parts of her face.

“I find that that’s better if you filter your skin generally. As you get older, you’ll find out that you don’t have all those dark patches or unevenness.”

5. Wearing SPF 30 can give you maximum coverage you need.

There are a bunch of different SPF ranges at the store– how do you know what’s best to pick?  “The minimum standard right now is 30, even though people who are darker can get away with 15,” says Dr. Ingleton.  “It’s just easy to say 30 is the base line.”

6. Consider cleansers and sunscreen with built-in moisture to help keep your skin flexible.

Dr. Ingleton suggests getting a skin cleanser and sunscreen with moisturizer built into it.  Moisturizer prevents cracking, flaking and splitting, especially in dry environments.

Dr. Ingleton officially partnered with Dove to promote the brand’s Dove Beauty Bar, which has moisturizing cream and cleansers built into it.

But even exfoliation products should shave off dead skin, while keeping you moisturized.  Dove’s Body Polish is made of 25 percent moisturizer and also scrubs skin clean (our favorite-smelling version is Crushed Macadamia and Rice Milk).

At the end of the day no matter how you choose to do it, protect your beautiful skin!

It’s a healthy habit you won’t regret.

Need a sunscreen that won’t leave you ashy?

We sampled Black Girl Sunscreen and absolutely loved it.

Watch the story behind the brand in our #GrioGoodNews Report below.