Do African Americans and people with dark skin need to use sunscreen?

Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine

African-Americans and people with dark skin have a natural SPF 16 UV protection, although dark skin blocks vitamin D3 production even more. So darker-skinned people require 10 to 20 times the sun exposure length (which equates to about two hours of exposure) than lighter-skinned people to build up the same amount of vitamin D. While dark skin does offer this SPF protection, it's not enough to protect the skin fully so African Americans and people with dark skin should still use sunscreens when they'll be in the sun for prolonged periods.

YOU: Being Beautiful: The Owner's Manual to Inner and Outer Beauty

More About this Book

YOU: Being Beautiful: The Owner's Manual to Inner and Outer Beauty

Most people think that beauty revolves around such things as lipstick, sweet eyes, or skinny jeans -- all those things that we can see (and obsess over) in the mirror. But the fact is that beauty...
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)

It's true that dark skin is higher in the pigment melanin than light skin, which can provide some protection against skin cancer and aging. This is why fair-skinned people are more likely to get a sunburn, and to get skin cancer, than dark-skinned people. Yet it's possible for everyone, no matter how dark their skin color, to get both sunburns and skin cancer. African Americans should wear a broad-spectrum, UVA/UVB sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 whenever they go outside. For more information about sun protection, consult a dermatologist.

Use a sunscreen and wear protective clothing to safeguard your skin from the sun’s harmful rays.

Marshelya D. Wilson, MD
Family Medicine

It has become a misconception that African Americans do not need to use sunscreen. Many believe that African-American skin has melanin which provides adequate protection. This is only partially true. Melanin does provide protection but only minimally, about an SPF 15. Ultraviolet rays still have the potential to damage skin and lead to often-undiagnosed skin cancers. African Americans do need to protect their skin with sunscreen, at least SPF 30.

Continue Learning about Sun Care

Sun Care

Sun Care

Proper sun care is essential because of wrinkles and dangers like melanoma. Experts estimate that more than 90 percent of skin cancers stem from overexposure to tanning beds and the suns ultraviolet radiation. Wear protective clot...

hing and sunscreen outdoors, especially between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the suns rays are strongest. Choose a sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB rays with an SPF of 15 or higher. Apply about 15 to 30 minutes before going outside, then reapply every two hours.
More

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.