Arjun is a 32-year-old, Indian male. He was open enough to share a story that a lot of people are nervously asking – is sunscreen necessary for all skin types? Does everyone of all color types – dark-skin, light-skin, black-skin, brown-skin, white-skin need sunscreen? There has been a long-standing myth that darker skin tones do not need sunscreen, but here is a real story that can help debunk that myth.
Does Everyone Need To Wear Sunscreen?
Growing up, I was always under the impression that I didn’t need sunscreen as a brown-skinned person. I thought only skin colors with lighter pigmentation would need sunscreen. I also thought the point of wearing sunscreen was only to prevent you from burning and I never burned like some of my other friends.
Whenever I’d go out and play outside as a kid, my white-skin friends would be applying sunscreen, or their parents would make them put it on. As an example, during recess throughout elementary and junior high, if my “white” friends forgot to put on sunscreen they would always get burned after playing football. I on the other hand, never got burned, and looked the same.
This narrative continued to influence my belief until I was an adult. I never learned about the benefits of sunscreen, my parents never suggested I wear some and no one ever told me to wear sunscreen when I would go outside. The importance of sunscreen never hit me to until my first burn.
Brown People Can Get Sun Burns
When I was 29, I was in California on a work trip and I had a day off. I went for a long walk to explore and was out in the sun from 10 am until 6 pm. I wasn’t wearing a hat, sunscreen or protection. The next morning, I realized my scalp got burned even with a full head of hair. My skin was peeling, and it hurt whenever anything touched it!
Sunscreen Is for All Skin Types -I Finally Started Wearing Sunscreen
So, I finally started wearing sunscreen at 29, but I would only use a little bit (even after the burn). I happened to have an 8 year-old bottle of sunscreen in my medicine cabinet and would occasionally wear that. But that has also changed – due to climate change and changes to the ozone layer, the sun is a lot harsher. As an example, if I am golfing and in the sun for half day and don’t wear a good sunscreen, I definitely burn. Having a girlfriend who forced me to wear sunscreen also helped (not going to lie!). She would encourage me to wear it every time I went out.
Finally, at 32 I’m a lot more knowledgeable about wearing sunscreen from articles I’ve read in major news media outlets and also check the expiry date. I’m more aware about the risks of the sun’s UV rays and the links to cancer. I also know the protective effects of sunscreen are necessary for every skin color and skin types. Even if it does take longer for some people to burn, sunscreen is one of the most important measures against skin cancer. UV rays don’t discriminate against skin color.