Black does crack

Monday, 26 November 2012

Black does crackThe saying ‘black don’t crack’ has become so well known that most women often mistake it for an endorsement to not use sun protection. The saying originated in the US and became a popular phrase in describing how black women seemed to age better than their white counterparts. Celebrities like Iman and Naomi Campbell have become the poster kids for the phrase, as have mothers and grandmothers who seem to have secret knowledge that keeps the wrinkles at bay. While there may be some truth to the ‘black don’t crack’ statement, the issue is far more complex than originally meets the eye.

Melanin matters

Black skin contains more melanin than white skin, says dermatologist Dr Thabisile Ngobese. ‘This does give us an advantage in sun protection and the upper hand on how we age. The less melanin, the more prone to sun damage skin is,’ she says. ‘But that doesn’t mean that black women should go without sunscreen.’

According to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center research, the melanin in dark-skinned black women gives them some sun protection, up to an SPF of 13, and it filters twice as much UV radiation as fair-skinned people. Dr Ngobese warns it’s important to realise that this isn’t enough.

‘Sunscreen needs to become part of a daily routine. I often tell my patients to use an SPF of 30 and higher,’ she says. ‘Even with a melanin advantage, going out into the sun with no protection is dangerous. I urge young people especially to insist their parents use sunscreen because we don’t have a history of using any form sun protection.’

Conditions that may arise from lack of adequate sun protection include hyperpigmentation and cancer.

The C word

Skin cancer is something that is rare in the black community and as a result, most don’t even look out for any signs.

‘Skin cancer is more common among other races but the cases of black skin cancer are often discovered once the cancer has progressed,’ says Dr Ngobese.

It’s important to look out for any moles on your body and any changes in your skin. If this occurs get it checked to find out if it’s something serious.

Protect yourself

The best way to protect yourself from the sun is to avoid too much exposure, especially on those blistering summer days. Always use sunscreen and re-apply when you are swimming and spending long periods of sun in the pool.

‘Wear sunscreen even in winter; just because you can’t see the sun doesn’t mean it’s not out there just waiting to damage your skin.’

When it comes to picking the correct sunscreen, Dr Ngobese says that race isn’t a huge factor.

‘Buy a sunscreen that is SPF 30 and above. It’s a matter of finding one that works with your skin and doesn’t leave a grey residue. But there are no race considerations to be made when picking one out.’


Other articles you may be interested in:
Moisturisers with SPF
Fun in the sun with Piz Buin
After sun soothers
Sunscreens we love
The facts about SPF

Written by

Zukiswa is a freelance writer who has had a fascination with all things beauty-related from the age of five. She has done some online and magazine work where her obsession with beauty increased to unnatural levels. Nail polish is one of her life's pleasures and there is very little she wouldn't do for the right bronzer. She's also been known to drive across town for her eyeliner of choice.

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  1. AndreaM

    Great article. This is an eye opener.

    5 years ago •

  1. mashigoane

    I use sunscreen on my melanin rich skin even in Autumn/Winter :-)

    6 years ago •

  1. kunene

    My daughter who is 14 is very aware about the importance of sunscreen for our dark complexions, she always applies in the morning and can not go without….us the older generation still need lots of education to get over the ‘black don’t crack mentality’

    6 years ago •

  1. me

    We all need protection all the time. Even working indoors we still go outside.

    6 years ago •

  1. petina

    I have a medium dark complexion and would like to you can recommend to brighten my complexion.

    7 years ago •

  1. Maddy

    Great article, each and every women must protect her skin despite the color.

    7 years ago •

  1. Tasha

    I think I am due for dermatologist app

    7 years ago •

  1. foreverGLAM

    Everyone should use sunscreen

    7 years ago •

  1. Nuuh

    Thank u for the information from now on I will b sure to make sunscreen part of my beauty routine

    7 years ago •

  1. Refilwe

    Thank you very much, very insightful.

    7 years ago •

  1. Azraa

    Sunscreen is a must, no matter your colour. Even if you cant see that you have burnt, your skin is still getting damaged.

    7 years ago •

  1. Lady-T

    My careless days in the sun when I was younger and misinformed are over!! Thanks for the information

    7 years ago •

  1. Hima

    Thanks for a very informative article..I was under the same impression for many years of my life..

    7 years ago •

  1. Humphreys

    Sunscreen is so important yet so few people realise this.

    7 years ago •

  1. Angelisha

    Ultimately its Skin that needs protection …

    7 years ago •

  1. CindyR

    The article is really nice, i think most black women arent to concerned with protecting there skin. I only started using sunscreen after getting blemmishes on my face.

    7 years ago •

  1. Blackcherry

    thanks for the tip, I always apply sunscreen and make sure i use moisturizer with SPF because i read somewhere that if you have dark marks and you expose them to the sun they will become darker.

    7 years ago •

  1. Noma

    I am fool proof that black DOES crack!!!…..

    7 years ago •

  1. DIVA

    Vvery formative. Thanks for the article

    7 years ago •

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