Darker Complexions and the Sun

Darker Complexions and the Sun

Darker complexions and the sun: whether you are a sun-kitten, like a dip in the rays only now and then or even hate the sun, no matter your preference, you should always wear sunscreen, regardless of your complexion.

When it comes to sun exposure, darker complexions have both advantages and disadvantages, for example, one advantage is that dark skin is less likely to get sunburned or develop skin cancer. The reason for this is that dark skin naturally provides protection from the sun’s ultraviolet rays, thus prevents people with darker complexions  from producing the required amount of vitamin D [source: Zelman].

Now, when people with lighter complexions spend time in the sun, their bodies produce melanin, which is the colour pigment in the skin – the reason the skin tans. Melanin is the body’s natural defence against those UV rays, which is why people with darker skin tones don’t need to produce it; they already have it. However, the disadvantage is that does not prevent skin cancer and this is the reason why many people with darker skin seem to have a higher fatality rate when it comes to skin cancer. [source: National Cancer Institute].

While too much sun can be dangerous, everyone, regardless of skin tone need a daily dose of the sun: our bodies need Vitamin D, which helps our bodies to absorb calcium, preventing osteoporosis, diabetes, cancer, rheumatoid arthritis and heart disease [source: Kotz]. However, as people of colour have a higher concentration of melanin this is another disadvantage: the higher level of melanin makes it more difficult for their bodies to produce the required amount of vitamin D. Lighter skinned people need around 10-15minutes sun exposure a few times a week but people of colour need much more, from five to 10 times more sun exposure in order for their body’s to create the same amount needed[source: Zelman].

photo credit: Beautiful Brown Girls

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