Does everyone need to wear sunscreen? The short answer is yes, but it’s slightly more complex. Let’s look at why.
It all has to do with melanin. Melanin gives skin its colour and offers some sun protection by absorbing UV rays. The more melanin you have, the more protection you have from the sun.
When you tan, your skin gets darker because it’s producing more melanin as a way to protect itself from further sun damage. That being said, tanning is a direct sign of UV damage and a sign you should be paying more attention to sun protection.
People with darker skin tones have enough melanin to provide a natural skin protection factor (SPF) of up to 13. In contrast, those with fair skin have a natural SPF of around 4-5.
This is why people with darker skin tones don’t get sunburns as quickly. However, this doesn’t mean they’re fully protected.
People with dark skin can still get sunburns after long periods out in the sun. Additionally, UVB and UVA rays can still damage darker skin, causing dark spots, wrinkles, and increasing the risk of skin cancer.
People with darker skin are less likely to get skin cancer, but they’re also less likely to wear sunscreen and look for signs of skin cancer. Because of this, when diagnosed, the cancer is usually already in a progressed state and harder to treat.
All that said, it’s important to protect your skin from the sun no matter the colour. Sunscreen is for everyone.