Do You Know the Facts About Sunburn on Brown Skin?

Sun Damaged SkinFrom person to person, the amount of sun exposure it takes to burn us varies, mainly depending on skin type and color. Dermatologists often refer to the amount of pigmentation in the skin by categorizing skin by ‘type’ number, which ranges from Type 1, up to Type 6. Type one is fair skin – white to very light brown, and Type 6 is deeply pigmented dark brown. These types also determine how easily you burn when out in the sun.

A lot of people these days are under the impression that when you have brown skin, you won’t burn. Although a nice thought, it’s not necessarily true… However, darker skin does have very minimal sensitivity, and rarely burns… The key word being rarely. Unfortunately,  with overexposure throughout your life, sun damaged skin results, it ages your skin, and raises your chances of contracting skin cancer.

Contrary to popular belief, no skin type is entirely safe. Regardless of skin type, the energy from the sun will still penetrate deeply into the skin and cause damage to the DNA of the skin cells. The amount of exposure to the sun's harmful rays that’s actually required to cause sunburn varies greatly from person-to-person and, in the summer, if you are fair skinned you may burn in as little as 15 minutes, whereas if you are dark skinned you might not even burn at all. However, sunburn is a radiation burn, and your skin could turn red, or darker, within 6 hours, and then continue to develop for the next 3 to 4 days.

The main reason that dark skinned people rarely burn is because of an increased presence of a substance in the skin called Melanin. Everybody has Melanin in their skin, but people with type 5 or type 6 skin have a larger amount of this in their skin than someone with type 1 or 2 skin. Melanin absorbs sunlight, so the more of it there is in the body, the less of it that is actually absorbed, so in a sense it’s a type of natural sunscreen. However, this absolutely does not mean that you shouldn’t use sunscreen. Melanin will only absorb a certain amount of sun, so it will only protect you to a certain degree, and you still need added protection in the form of sunscreen.

The amount of melanin that is in your skin will be genetically passed down, which explains why the same skin types can sometimes differ when it comes to sunburn, but regardless of whether you feel you need it or not, sunscreen is always worth applying because it can keep wrinkles, caused by the rays, at bay, as well as reduce your risk of skin cancer.

So, always remember to apply sunscreen when spending long periods of time in the sun, to avoid the pain of sun damaged skin!

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