Spending time in the sun, whether you’re at the beach or in your backyard, is one of life’s pleasures. However, the sun’s harmful rays can cause a lot of damage to your skin like dark spots. Wearing sunscreen every day, and topping it up regularly, is one of the best ways to protect you and your child’s skin.
Unfortunately, a lot of the advice about sun protection is aimed at people with light skin; how does sunscreen work best for your child’s melanin-rich skin?
Don’t Fall for the Myth that Melanin-Rich Skin Doesn’t Need Sunscreen
Melanin is a complex polymer responsible for the color of your skin, hair, and eyes in tiny cells known as melanocytes. The higher the percentage of melanin you have in certain parts of your body, the darker your skin, hair, and eyes.
In addition to affecting your skin tone, melanin absorbs UV rays, protecting the skin cells from UV damage. The more melanin in the skin, the more UV rays it can potentially absorb. However, although a high presence of melanin in your skin may delay the signs of aging caused by sun exposure, it does not protect your skin from UV damage or medical conditions such as skin cancer. Children’s sensitive skin is particularly vulnerable to sun damage.
The idea that people with melanin-rich skin do not need to protect themselves from the sun is a dangerous myth that causes people with darker skin tones to take risks with their health when spending time in the sun. Because darker skin does not tend to show the tell-tale signs of sun damage as clearly as pale skin, people of color often don’t get diagnosed with conditions like skin cancer until it is in its later stages.
Build Sunscreen Application into Your Daily Routine
You can protect your child’s melanin-rich skin from UV damage by building sunscreen into their daily routine. Skin care for melanin-rich skin often focuses on hydration and other issues that tend to affect darker skin, such as hyperpigmentation. While these are extremely important, it is also essential for your child’s health that they use SPF regularly.
One of the most common reasons people give for not putting sunscreen on their kids is that they forget. The best way to combat this problem is to make sunscreen application a daily habit for the whole family. Although it might be a bit difficult at first, putting sunscreen on your kids will become second nature, like making sure they thoroughly brush their teeth and apply daily moisture & hydration crème. Try putting it next to the front door and apply it before your kids leave for the day.
Don’t skip this step during the winter because, although sunscreen is extra important when the sun is at its strongest, your skin can still be damaged when it is overcast.
Use Sunscreen Made for Melanated Skin
Another reason people give for not using sunscreen regularly is because their kids complain that it’s unpleasant to wear. Many sunscreens on the market are greasy, sticky, or leave a white cast.
The sunscreen issues people with highly melanated skin face are often different to those with lighter skin tones. For example, creams that leave a white cast are much more noticeable if you have darker skin, meaning that sheer, lightweight sunscreens are preferable.
If your child has melanin-rich skin always use sunscreen that is made specifically for dark skin. Just as skin care products like Melabebe hydration crème are specifically made to provide melanin-rich skin nourishment, sunscreen created with the needs of children of color in mind is more likely to work well for your kids.
Find Sunscreen that Suits Your Lifestyle
If you haven’t explored your different sunscreen options recently, you might be surprised to discover how far these products have come in the last few years. From fragrance-free and oil-free creams and gels to powders and sprays, however, your child prefers to get their SPF protection, there is a product for them.
One of the great things about the wide variety of sunscreens is utilizing different products for different occasions. For example, if you’re spending the day on the beach and can’t get your kids to stand still long, use a quick application SPF spray. Or, if your child gets sweaty playing sports outside, use sunscreen specifically made for sports so that it won’t rub off.
The main two types of SPF protection are mineral and chemical sunscreens. While mineral sunscreen offers better protection, chemical sunscreen is often more user-friendly, spreading and soaking into the skin better. Ultimately the best sunscreen for your child is the one they use with minimal complaint, so find one or two that you and your child love and concentrate on using them every day.
Children Should Use Sunscreen Made for Them
It is crucial to use specially designed skin care products for melanated children as they are formulated for the specific needs of kids with dark skin. The same can be said for sun protection.
In addition to needing a sunscreen that suits their dark skin, children of color should use protection that is sensitive to their young skin and offer a high level of broad-spectrum UV protection, ideally no less than SPF 50. Natural skin care for children has many benefits, so it’s a good idea to seek out sunscreen that is made for kids with natural ingredients like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.
Looking After Your Child’s Skin After Sun Exposure
There are numerous steps you can take to protect your child’s skin from the sun’s damaging rays on top of wearing sunscreen, such as wearing a hat, wearing UV-protective clothing, and, most importantly, keeping out of the sun as much as possible.
Unfortunately, avoiding the sun altogether is not always possible, depending on your family’s lifestyle and where you live. For this reason, how you take care of your child’s skin after being exposed to the sun is crucial.
After being in the sun, skin needs two key things: hydration and cooling. Use natural, non-irritating products with moisturizing and cooling ingredients such as shea butter and aloe vera, both of which are present in Melabebe, natural skin care for melanin-rich children.
Protect Your Child’s Skin
The myth that melanin-rich skin doesn’t need sunscreen is dangerous. Protecting your kid’s skin from damaging UV rays should be a priority, and the best way to do that is to find products that work for them and build them into their daily routine, including regular top-ups every few hours or after swimming.