Disclaimer: Please note that I am not a scientist and by no means a professional in this area so please do not make any health changes based on this article 🙂
If you are a UK resident you’ve probably become accustom to the unpredictable nature that is the normal British weather! A typical summer’s day in London would often consist of spring, summer, winter, and autumn all in one day. Conversations about the weather are common in this part of the world because of the frequent changes.
The recent heat wave that has struke Britain over the last 2 monts has left us feeling overwhelemed. Overwhelmed because we are simply not used to such long periods of heat for this length of time. From moral panics, which often include health risks and wavering transport systems (which quite frankly seems to be wavering during any season of the year); to days out and seaside trips in locations many of us never knew existed.
The media always reminds us of which precautions to take to protect lesser melanated skin. But fail to inform us on if and how the sun affects those of us with darker complexions. A lot of us commonly have the perception that. “Black skin doesn’t need protection”. This holds some truth in the fact that we are descendants of Africans who were biologically made for the sun. But it can go deeper than that.
Black people are more immune to sun rays because our skin is made up of multiple layers of melanin. This subsequently protects us from sun burn, and lowers the risk of skin cancer. To the contrary, those with lower amounts of melanin (namely Europeans) are more prone to skin damage caused by the sun.
So why is Melanin a natural sunscreen?
According to RealMDiety, “The Pineal gland is responsible for producing & secreting the hormones Serotonin & Melatonin. Serotonin is secreted during the daylight hours; Melatonin is secreted in night time hours. These hormones work inversely”
The pineal gland, situated in the centre of the brain (known as the third eye); secretes melanin from sun rays (hence why people tan). This then acts as a defence mechanism against the sun rays.
But what about the effects?
So, we’ve gathered why darker skinned people are less prone to sun damage – but what about the effects surrounding the production of vitamin D. Vitamin D (known as the sun vitamin) absorbs calcium and protects against chronic illnesses such as cancer, arthritis, and heart disease. Studies have shown that those with a higher concentration of melanin naturally produce less vitamin D and can extract up to 95% less vitamin D from sunlight. This means darker skinned people will still need long periods under the sunlight to make up for vitamin D deficiency.
While it is common for us to associate the appliance of sunscreen with “getting a tan” (something we evidently do not need). In an article published on Huffington.com it states, while having more melanin does provide some protection, anyone who’s had prolonged exposure to the sun is at an increased risk of getting a sunburn or even skin cancer, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation.
For those who struggle to find a sunscreen which doesn’t leave their skin looking and feeling ashy. Check out Boldenusa, a skin care range dedicated specifically to darker complexions.
Health care professionals should always be on hand to offer more information on this topic – so if you are unsure about the amount of time you should be spending in the sun, or what to put on your skin please seek further advice.
For further online info you can also check out Healthline.com