Summer Time Fine: Stop Telling Black People They Don’t Need Sunscreen

As a black girl, I have come across many discoveries about my body. I know that the hair on my head is thick and grows at a rapid pace, and changes color in the sun, which is awesome. I know that my scars and bruises heal easily, especially with cocoa butter, which almost makes me feel like Superwoman. I also know that my melanin protects me from the dangers of the sun (i.e.: skin cancer, sunburn, etc.) which is a great feature especially if I want to get it on and poppin’ during the summer time.

However, before I start rocking that new ten dollar bikini from H&M, I always spray a layer of sunscreen. The looks I get from my peers are always faces of confusion or disapproval.

“Why are you wearing sunscreen, you’re black,” or “Black people don’t wear sunscreen.” The list can go on and on. I’m here to address it today: Yes, black people wear sunscreen. Yes, even though your melanin helps fight sun rays, it does not prevent objection to skin cancer and sunburn. And yes; black people can be sunburned.

My Story

A few summers ago I found myself out and about in the sun and my skin was literally boiling and breaking out in a heat rash. Quite uncomfortable, I started trying products to help soothe my skin. I tried cocoa butter but unfortunately while it made me glow, it clogged my pores and made it worse.

That summer I was working for a summer camp and we were attending a specialized trip. Our camp director, whom was white, demanded that we all bring sunscreen. Though there were only around four black people in the entire room, I still felt obliged to follow that rule. I purchased a bottle from Target and a few days later found myself in the middle of Pennsylvania in 90 degree weather applying the sticky formula. I felt the difference almost instantly after walking outside. Sunscreen acts as a blockage, so you can literally feel the heat bouncing off of your skin. Though still hot, my skin was cool and comfortable; no burning and no heat rash.


It was discovered in a 2016 study by the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology that while melanoma, a common and one of the most serious skin cancers, was more common in Caucasians, it is more deadly to African-Americans.

Nothing is created for a specific race unless you believe it. An unfortunate trend I have seen is rejection or mocking for doing things that are not considered common to the black community. The stigma that sunscreen is only for white people needs to end among the black community. Break that mindset and ignorance and start taking care of yourself. I am not demanding or stating that it is required for all people of color to wear sunscreen, but that it helps, especially if you have sensitive skin and you find the heat to be unsettling.

If you’re interested in trying, you can purchase the same sunscreen lotion from Target here. I personally found that the lotion glided onto my skin better and did not have as much as a sticky residue as the spray, however you can also purchase popular spray bottle brands such as Coppertone at T.J. Maxx or Marshalls for five bucks.

Summer is almost over, so soak up the sun while you can and remember to protect your melanin.

Feature Photo: Melody Jacob

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