My patients with darker skin tones also experience the damaging effects of the sun, but sometimes differently than their lighter-skinned counterparts. The sun may not cause as many wrinkles, but hyperpigmentation and melasma are more of a problem if you have dark skin.
In addition, something called post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation is more of an issue for skin of color. This is hyperpigmentation that develops at the site of an injury or inflammation that is made worse with sun exposure. The inflammation can be acne, and patients find the resulting dark spots disturbing.
UV radiation also causes damage in skin of color and can result in skin cancer. Unfortunately, because of beliefs that dark skin protects one from the sun, patients with skin of color are diagnosed with skin cancer at a more advanced stage.
Because of the propensity for pigmentation, patients with skin of color should select a sunscreen with iron oxides. Research has shown that using a sunscreen with iron oxides gives greater protection to the block visible light that causes this skin discoloration. Even though iron oxide might be listed as an “inactive ingredient” on the label, it is providing additional protection if the product has least 2% iron oxide.
You may have to look up your product online to see the full list of all sunscreen ingredients. Sometimes only the “active ingredients” are listed on the product label. Iron oxides will not be listed as a sunscreen ingredient.
Tinted sunscreens often have iron oxides and this is why I believe tinted sunscreens are much better for the face. If your skin is dark and the tinted sunscreen you select is not dark enough, put your foundation on top of the sunscreen. Also, we are happy to have you test the tinted sunscreens we sell in the office.