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  • Writer's pictureThe Pink Elephant Lady

Who Needs Sunscreen? EVERYONE. (yes, even in winter and even on dark skin!)

Do you use exfoliating skin care products? Or over the counter acne treatments? What about anti-aging skin creams? Many of these products contain the hydroxy acids AHA (alpha hydroxy acid) or BHA (beta hydroxy acid). These ingredients can increase photosensitivity – meaning they can make ANY skin more sensitive to sun damage, no matter what color! Be sure to wear sunscreen when using products with AHAs or BHAs. Salicylic acid is the most common BHA you'll find listed as an ingredient in cosmetics and personal care products; it’s often found in acne treatments. Here’s some other ingredient names to look out for (we’re NOT saying these ingredients are inherently dangerous; we’re just reminding everyone to use sunscreen when using products that contain these ingredients):

Alpha hydroxy acid (AHA)

Azelaic acid

Benzoyl peroxide

Beta hydroxy acids (BHA)

Beta hydroxybutanoic acid

Betaine salicylate

Citric acid

Dicarbonous acid

Glycolic acid

Hydroacetic acid

Hydroxyacetic acid

Hydroxycaproic acid

Lactic acid

Salicylic acid

Trethocanic acid

Tropic acid

'But I have dark skin. I don't need sunscreen, right?'

According to, 'There is a myth that dark skin doesn’t burn, and therefore doesn’t need sunscreen. The reality is that all complexions can burn. Darker skin does provide some protection from the sun’s UV rays – it has more melanin for natural protection — but you can’t count on that alone. '.

“Anyone can get skin cancer, regardless of race,” Dermatologist Maritza I. Perez, MD, a senior vice president of The Skin Cancer Foundation, says. “Remember, ethnicity does not define skin type. It can represent a wide range of skin tones with a wide range of risks.” While incidence of melanoma is higher in the Caucasian population, studies show it is more deadly in people of color (learn more from the Skin Cancer Foundation). African American patients were most likely to be diagnosed with melanoma in its later stages than any other group in studies, and they also had the worst prognosis and the lowest overall survival rate. People who have dark skin are more susceptible to acral lentiginous melanoma (ALM), an especially dangerous form of melanoma that typically appears on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet. (The Jamaican singer and musician Bob Marley died of ALM when he was only 36 - read our blog post about that here.)

But skin cancer and premature aging are not the only problems that can arise from excessive sun exposure on unprotected skin. Dark skin is more likely to develop pigmentation problems, and daily use of sunscreen will keep any hyperpigmented areas from becoming darker. Even minor skin injuries, such as bug bites, can cause a change in skin pigment, allowing hyperpigmentation to occur. In those with lighter skin, skin irritations relating to use of skin care products normally subsides once use is discontinued. But in people of color, the irritations often give way to post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. This can develop within one to two weeks after stopping the product and can linger for several months or longer. Untreated eczema can also lead to hyperpigmentation, as well as acne and many of the medications used to treat acne, and certain oral antibiotics, particularly minocycline. In some people, it can produce a darkening of the skin, which can take months to fade.

But Is Sunscreen REALLY Necessary in the Winter?

YES. UVB rays are weaker in the winter, so sunburn is not as likely, but the sun's UVA rays that cause wrinkles, premature aging and damage are just as strong, no matter what the season!

Sunscreen Products We Offer

We carry safe sunscreen products for babies, children, and adults of all skin tones. We are proud to be the ONLY Michigan retailer of Black Girl Sunscreen, a product from a black-owned company developed specifically for women of color that leaves absolutely no residue at all. BlackGirlSunscreen is a weightless, ultra-sheer, fragrance free, melanin reinforcing SPF 30 sunscreen moisturizer that ‘empowers the everyday women to have fun under the sun’!

  • Leaves no white residue.

  • Rubs in completely clear.

  • Daily moisturizer for face and body.

  • Infused with natural ingredients that are good for skin like carrot seed oil, jojoba oil, almond oil and shea butter

  • Fragrance and Paraben free.

We also carry mineral-based, non-nano zinc oxide sunscreens safe enough to use on babies, and tinted sunscreens made especially for the face – great as a foundation/sun protection combo!

  • Rated a #1 in safety on EWG

  • 80 minutes water and sweat resistant

  • 100% Non-Nano Zinc Oxide Sunscreen

  • Contains skin-soothing certified organic ingredients

  • Hypoallergenic and lightweight

  • Contains exclusive Nutri-Soothe™ Complex rich in vitamins and anti-oxidants

  • Reef safe, and contains no oxybenzone or octinoxate

Learn More: Black Folks Need Sunscreen, Too!

Racial Disparities in Melanoma Survival, Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology

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