Question: I am a 45 year old South Asian women. I now live near Chicago and the weather is usually grey and very cold. My cousin says I still need to use a sunscreen and I think its unnecesary at this time of year. Who is right?
Answer: Umm, I tend to stay out of family arguments, but in this case I have to say your cousin is right. The UV rays are hitting our skin all year round. While your melanin rich complexion provides protection from sun aging and skin cancers, even weak UV rays can provoke unwanted patches of darker pigmentation known as hyperpigmentation or melasma. Brown spots and splotches are an increasing problem for skin of color. Rather than spend a good part of your beauty dollar on products that promise to brighten and even out the skin tones, prevent hyperpigmentation by investing in a sunscreen with at least a 30SPF. In summer a 50SPF is even better.
Virtually every dermatologist I speak to makes sun protection for everyone their main focus– and they dream of the day when its as automatic as brushing your teeth. Because its so essential for skin health and beauty, its key is choosing the right sunscreen for your skin. If you have dry skin, a good sunscreen can boost hydration. However if you have oily or acne prone skin, the wrong sunscreen can increase skin problems. For best results, look for oil free forumulation that provide physical sun protection with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. The chemical sunscreens like avobenzone and Mexoryl are effective but can be irritating– and this irritation can provoke moremelasma and hyperpigmentation in women of color. Not what you are looking for.
Use the sunscreen every day on your face, neck and hands. There has been alot of discussion about how much goo you should put on. I’ve tried out the often quoted recommendation of one tablespoon per face and the results were both funny and disturbing. To keep up sun protection during the day, use a mineral based powder like Brush on Block ( $32, free shipping).