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Darker Skins Can Get Too Much Sun

July 2, 2012
Plain English Version

blackhealthzone.com

Dermatologists say dark skin offers more natural protection from the sun’s harmful rays than light skin. However, no one is immune to damage from the sun.

Blacks, Hispanics, Asians, and Native Americans naturally produce more of a chemical called melanin. This chemical affects skin color and absorbs damaging ultraviolet (UV) rays. Very dark-skinned people have a natural skin protection factor (SPF) of up to 13. That is twice as much UV radiation protection as fair-skinned people.

Health experts advise everyone to use sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15. Dark-skinned people are still susceptible to damage from the sun. They get sunspots, wrinkles—and cancer.

Companies make a variety of products in addition to sun screen to shield people from the sun’s rays, including clothing, shoes, makeup, umbrellas, and even some detergents.

Many products do what they are supposed to do – protect people from  absorbing UV rays. But experts say, “When it comes to sun protection, you cannot beat a dark shirt with a tight weave and a good hat. There is a lot you can do and not spend a lot of money.”

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