May is skin cancer and melanoma awareness month. Over the month of May we are sharing a series of blogs will look at the topics of skin cancer, sun protection, spotting early signs of skin cancer and how to approach the conversation with clients.
Dija Ayodele, founder of the Black Skin Directory shares why it’s important to protect your skin from the sun, no matter your skin tone. Dija said, ‘Regardless of skin colour, we all have generally the same amount of melanocytes, however the key determinant when it comes to black skin is the amount of melanin that the melanocytes produce. Black skin produces more melanin than white skin and the melanocyte cells are significantly larger in black skin than they are in white.
‘As an aesthetician we’re taught to educate everyone on how the sun damages the skin – UVA rays age the skin, deplete collagen leading to fine lines, wrinkles and increase in skin discolouration. UVB burns the skin leading to cell deformities and the development of skin cancers like Melanomas.
‘However, the suncare market predominantly educates mainly the white public about UVB damage, which obviously I understand – skin cancers that can be attributed to avoidable sun damage are a waste of life. The UVA message largely goes uncommunicated unless you are talking to a skincare professional in relation to treatments and products and how you should protect your skin post treatment.
‘Darker skin tones tend to get none of the above. Because darker skin tones are less likely (not completely) to develop skin cancer, the suncare market doesn’t engage with this demographic – not from a UVB or UVA perspective. Naturally, I think this should change and skin of colour deserves to be included in the sun care narrative, with the explanation that yes melanin gives protection, but it doesn’t mean you should be complacent and forgo sun protection completely, especially when there is still issues of skin bleaching around and the popularity of treatments such as chemical peels which make skin more sensitive and vulnerable.
‘It can often be difficult for women of colour to find a sunscreen that works for them. Mineral sunscreens use zinc oxide and titanium dioxide as the active protective ingredients, which leave a ghostly, undesirable cast on the skin. So if a woman of colour, wants to use a mineral sunscreen, they really have to search hard and put in the legwork into finding something suitable for them. Fortunately, brands are cottoning on to this and investing more in new formulations to improve their products to be more cosmetically elegant.’
In the next blog in this series, charity and accredited course provider Skcin, share tips for spotting early signs of skin cancer.