In honor of Skin Cancer Awareness Month, Black dermatologists explain why POC are dying from melanoma at higher rates.
According to a recent study by the CDC, Black populations are the least likely to be diagnosed with skin cancer and three times more likely to die from the disease than any other population. Typically, those with melanin-rich skin do not receive a skin cancer diagnosis until it is in an advanced stage, leaving them more vulnerable to the disease. One of the most common and fatal skin cancers in the United States is melanoma which is more difficult to spot on darker skin tones, often leading to a delayed diagnosis.
When it comes to prevention, dispelling the myth that Black people do not need sunscreen is crucial. In fact, wearing sunscreen daily, all-year round, is the most recommended method to prevent skin damage. Dr. Naana Boakye, the Director of Dermatology at A-Frame, scientist behind Naomi Osaka’s suncare brand KINLÒ, explains, “Sunlight is composed of ultraviolet, visible and infrared light. Ultraviolet causes skin cancer, skin aging and sunburns. Visible light causes hyperpigmentation in people of color. Therefore, we should constantly have a layer of protection between our skin and things like the air and general environment around us, including our everyday exposure to blue light (the rays emitted by computer, smartphone, and tablet screens)."
She advises "It is imperative to wear sunscreen daily regardless of the weather. Apply two finger lengths of sunscreen to your face, neck, and ears every two hours when outdoors to any sun exposed areas. Also, wear large brim hats, sunglasses, seek shade from 10-4pm and wear sun protective clothing."
Another essential prevention tool is learning how to identify the deadly disease at home, especially since doctors may have trouble spotting it. Dr. Valencia Thomas, professor of Dermatology at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center recommends performing self-examination tests monthly "by looking at the skin of the head, neck, back, chest, abdomen, arms and legs using a mirror" and learning the signs of an abnormal mole or aggressive skin lesion. In general, melanomas appear as a new, or changing mole. Dr. Thomas explains to lookout for, “visual characteristics that exhibit "ABCDEs" of melanoma: "A" for asymmetry, "B" for border irregularity, "C" for multiple colors, "D" for diameter greater than a pencil eraser, and "E" for evolution or change. In melanated skin, melanomas appear most commonly on the hands or feet and may appear as a stripe in the nail that is new, darkening, or widening. If a lesion demonstrates any of these classic signs or bleeding, skin breakdown, rapid growth, and pain it should be immediately evaluated by a trained health professional.”
Read on for our top-rated, Black-owned sunscreen formulas, specially designed to blend invisibly on melanin-rich skin tones, without any white residue, and are guaranteed to keep you and your family safe.
MELÉ Dew The Most SPF 30, $10 for 1 oz, amazon.com
This sheer face moisturizer absorbs quickly without any white residue to deliver 24 hours of hydration and SPF 30 Broad Spectrum protection from UV and blue light. The product is co-created with Black dermatologists to address our unique skin needs to protects against UV damage, hyperpigmentation and signs of aging.
Buttah Tinted Mineral Facial Sunscreen SPF 30 $24 for 2 oz., buttahskin.com
With natural skincare top of mind, this lightweight lotion is free of chemicals, parabens and flavorings for a gentle way to protect your face, neck and chest from the harmful rays of the sun. The mineral sunscreen is designed to work as a barrier against the sun and deflects light instead of absorbing it. Best of all, the formula goes on clear and vanishes to a matte finish.
Black Girl Sunscreen BGS Kids SPF 50 Sunscreen $10 for 3 oz., blackgirlsunscreen.com
Soothe, moisturize, protect, hydrate and heal your child’s skin with this everyday SPF 50 moisturizing sunscreen lotion for face and body. It protects against harmful UVA/UVB rays and has eliminated all sticky white residue. Come summertime, bring it to the beach or pool. The formula is water resistant for 80 minutes, hypoallergenic, and fragrance, paraben, silicone, and aluminum free.
KINLÒ Golden Rays Tinted Sunscreen SPF 50 $12 for 0.95 oz, walmart.com
This active mineral sunscreen, is sweat proof, water-resistant and chemical free. Designed for melanated skin tones, it comes in three shades: Light (Ivory to Beige Skin Tones), Medium (Olive to Chestnut Skin Tones), or Deep (Mahogany to Espresso Skin Tones so you're guaranteed to find your perfect match. Tennis superstar Naomi Osaka created KINLÒ after learning the damaging effects the sun can have on melanated skin and wanting to educate others about proper sun protection.
Fenty Skin Hydra Vizor Invisible Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 30 Sunscreen $38 for 1.7 oz., sephora.com
This refillable two-in-one sunscreen moisturizer is lightweight, oil free, noncomedogenic, and invisible. The formula provides hydration and protection all at once. It also targets dark spots and is makeup-friendly.