Cosmopolitan (UK)

The Black girl’s guide to SPF

No matter your skin tone, you still need sun protection every single day


It’s always gone without saying – at least, for me – that BLACK LIVES MATTER. It’s also clear that some folks need to be reminded of this, as they did when the world came together over a year ago to protest against police brutality and racism.

While a story on SPF might seem minor in the fight for equality, it’s important to see self-care as a pretty revolution­ary act of self-preservati­on that shouldn’t be taken lightly. I also know a lot of you are probably thinking, “Do Black people really need SPF?” Absolutely, 100% yes, we do. Let me break down exactly why that is. While it’s true that Black people are less likely to get diagnosed with skin cancer than other racial groups, when they are diagnosed, the outcome is often worse. According to The Skin Cancer Foundation, the five-year melanoma survival rate (AKA the likelihood that you’ll still be alive five years after diagnosis) is 67% for Black patients, versus 92% for white ones.

There are a million frustratin­g factors behind this statistic, but there is one universal and relatively accessible thing that can help us: SPF. Ask any dermatolog­ist (literally any in the entire world) and they’ll tell you that the best way to prevent skin cancer – no matter your skin colour – is by using sunscreen.

Except, according to a recent Cosmo poll,* one in three Black women never, ever wear SPF. So don’t feel ashamed if you don’t have any on – this is a widespread issue. And the idea that we don’t need it – that Black and brown skin is immune to the sun’s harmful rays – is a myth that’s been perpetuate­d for way too long.

Not helping: sunscreen ads and skin-cancer warnings that don’t reflect, or aren’t directed to, people of colour, which further pushes the idea that we don’t need to worry. Also not helping: all the thick, white lotions that don’t even come close to blending into our beautiful brown skin.

Look, I know that it feels like the world is moving at a mile a minute, and it’s easy to get wrapped up in everything going on around us, but using daily SPF is a small (and pretty damn significan­t) way to take care of yourself and show your skin some love. So keep reading to find out why every Black-person SPF myth is BS, how to check your skin for moles and marks at home, and the best sunscreens for melanin-rich faces and bodies. ›


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