Beauty education

Do all skin types need sunscreen?

Elise Deylgat

Are you a person who loves to tan? If so, you are not alone! We live in a culture in which a tanned skin is considered attractive. If you tan easily or have naturally dark skin, you might think you are not at risk to get skin cancer. However, think again… Damaging UV rays can penetrate all types of skin, regardless of your ethnicity, so even people with dark skin need sunscreen.

Different skin types

Skin types can be classified according to the Fitzpatrick skin type (or photo type), depending on the amount of melanin pigment in the skin. The skin type is determined by the color (white, brown or black skin) and the result of exposure to ultraviolet radiation (tanning).

                                                             

 

How is your skin type determined

The most important substance determining your skin colour is melanin. Melanin is produced by cells called melanocytes in a process called melanogenesis. The amount of melanin and the resulting skin pigmentation of a person is the result of genetics and sun exposure. Moreover, there are two types of melanin, which have visibly different effects on skin pigmentation. Eumelanin gives skin a brown colour (tan), and pheomelanin gives the skin a red colour (burn). Eumelanin offers better protection from the sun’s UV rays compared to pheomelanin.

Genetics

Levels of melanin are primarily determined by genetics; individuals born to fair skinned parents will inherit their parent’s fair skin, as individuals born to dark skinned parents will inherit dark skin. People with a dark skin have larger sizes and numbers of melanosomes (melanin containing organelles). Moreover, they have more eumelanin, the good form of melanin in the skin. Moreover, they have a better distribution of melanin in the keratinocytes (epidermal skin cells) than people with a light skin. Melanin absorbs UV-rays from the sun and therefore serves as a physical barrier that scatters UV radiation. Resulting is a better natural protection for damaging UV-rays

Extrinsic factors

Exposure to UV-radiation from the sun is the most important extrinsic factor. Immediate pigmentation (=redness), visible within 5-10 minutes and lasting for minutes to days, is induced by UV-A radiation. There is a redistribution of melanin in the upper layers of the skin. Delayed pigmentation (= tanning), which occurs several days after sun exposure, is induced mainly by UV-B. These changes occur due to increasing production of melanin. Tanning is a natural defense mechanism of the body. Sun damage is irreversible -the upper skin layer replaces itself approximately every three weeks but the deeper skin layers remain damaged- which can lead to premature skin aging and skin cancer.

Why is skin protection important to everyone?

People with a dark skin have a higher natural protection barrier but it is a common misconception that a melanin infused skin eliminates the need for sunscreen as protection. Damaging UV rays can penetrate all skin types! People with a dark skin have a natural SPF (sun protection factor) around 13. They are better protected than people with a pale skin but the melanin does not block all the damaging UV-rays.

People with a tanned skin have an increased amount of melanin in response to sun exposure. A tan is is equivalent to wearing a sunscreen with a SPF of 3 to 4. We like having a tanned skin but it is actually a sign of cell damage because of the sun. Exposure to UV light increases the risk for premature skin aging, skin damage, and skin cancer. The risk rises if tanning leads to a sunburn. A single blistering sunburn can nearly double one’s lifetime risk of melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer. Therefore, it is ironic that one of the reasons people tan is to look better and healthier.

Day cream with SPF

The amount of UV radiation is higher during the summer. Therefore, it is advised to always use a day cream with SPF during the summer months! Nomige has chosen to add a low sun protection factor to all of its Lifestyle day creams. This way your skin is protected against UVA and UVB radiation on a daily basis. However, don’t forget to reapply sunscreen during the day because after a few hours the sunscreen is no longer effective.

If you are exposed to the sun for a longer period of time (eg. sunbathing, a long walk…) it is wise to choose a sunscreen with higher protection factor, for example SPF 30 or 50. Nomige has developed the 'UV Protect' cream for the face with a medium protection sunscreen. It can be used as a daycream due to its pleasant skin feel.

Would you like to read more about sunscreen? Check our previous blog about sun protection