The Effects of the Sun.

Working in the beauty care industry in the Caribbean, has been a platform to study the effects of sun exposure on the Caribbean skin. What is predominantly common based on observation, is the presence of darker skin on the forehead, cheeks and sometimes on the chin. Which are typical effects of sun exposure.

For Earth and the other planets that revolve around it, the sun is a powerful center of attention. It pours life-giving light, heat, and energy on Earth. The sun is also very important to the human health as the skin uses sunlight to help produce vitamin D, which is important for normal bone formation. As fascinating as this may seem, an overexposure of the human skin to light rays from the sun may lead serious health problems.

Ultraviolet Radiation

Ultraviolet (UV) radiation is a combination of UVA, UVB and UVC rays. The two categories of UV light considered in terms of sunscreen are UVA and UVB (Ross, 2015). UVB actually causes sunburn and actually damage skin cells at a molecular level. As a result, UVB rays are the main cause of sunburns. UVA has damaging skin effects which are long term such as premature aging and cancer (Ross, 2015).

Glowing skin is often associated with good health, but skin exposed to the rays of the sun actually have harmful effects. For example, it can speed up the aging process and increases the chances of developing skin cancer. According to MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. (n.d.) frequent and prolonged exposure to ultraviolet rays over many years is the chief cause of skin cancer. Too much exposure to ultraviolet or UV rays can also result in severe sunburn. The symptoms usually occur up to five hours after exposure and may include redness, tenderness, pain, welling and even blisters. For this reason, it is recommended to wear sunblock or sunscreen as well as makeup that offers some amount of sun protection (mineral makeup).

Sunscreen is the more commonly used type of sun protectant. It filters or screens the sun’s Ultraviolet rays (UV). In other words, it keeps most rays out but lets some in. It may also be called a chemical sunscreen (Fayed, 2017). Sunblock, on the other hand, reflects the sun’s rays from the skin, blocking the rays from penetrating the skin. It may be called a physical sunscreen (Fayed, 2017). The bottom line is that both are excellent forms of sun protection. On the market, there are so many different sunscreen and sunblock with even more SPF, no wonder persons are confused.

According to the American Cancer Society, no sunscreen has the ability to protect completely and even though higher SPF numbers mean more protection, higher the SPF rating that you select, the smaller the difference becomes. For example SPF 15 sunscreens filter out about 93% of UVB rays, while SPF 30 sunscreens filter out about 97%, SPF 50 sunscreens about 98%, and SPF 100 about 99%.

Myth: Dark Skin Does Not Need Sun Protection

As Caribbean people, we often shun the idea of wearing sunscreen or sunblock. Many people of colour even believe that dark skin does not need sunscreen. Additionally, many are familiar with the saying “black don’t crack”, on top of that, so many of us get so confused about sunscreen versus sunblock and SPF. Individuals with darker skin who tan easily and rarely burn may feel they do not need to use sunscreen. However, like sunburn, a tan is the result of DNA damage from exposure to the sun’s harmful UV radiation. Darker-skinned persons may also be wary of using physical sunscreens, especially titanium-based

products, because they can look chalky and white on the skin. However, newer preparations are micronized. which means the particles are small enough to allow them to blend in and disappear into the skin. Chemical sunscreens are also an option, for example, a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 15+. (Saini and Szemplinski, 2013)

Despite the negative effects that the sun may pose, we still choose to bask in its radiance. There are ways to that can be utilized to escape these wounding effects, whilst still enjoying the enjoying the solar glory. The most common way in which humans can exploit the joy of the sun is via the application of sunblock. Applying sunblock to the skin aids in the deflecting of harmful rays, away from the skin. The table below shows the recommended SPF based on the variation in Caribbean skin tone.

Table: Skin Complexion and Recommended SPF Source: Spots, Discoloration, Rough Skin?

Other issues, stated by Web MD (n.d.), that excessive exposure may cause: fine and coarse wrinkles, freckles, discolored areas of the skin, called mottled pigmentation, sallowness – a yellow discoloration of the skin, Telangiectasias – the dilation of small blood vessels under the skin, and Elastosis – the destruction of the elastic and collagen tissue (causing lines, wrinkles and sagging skin). Most time we associate skin changes with normal signs of aging. However, over time, UV light damage skin fibers called elastin. When they breakdown, skin begins to sag and stretch and lose its ability to go back into place after stretching. Sun damage may not be apparent, when young but often shows up later in life Web MD (n.d.).

Best Way to Protect The Skin

According to the National Institutes of Health USA (2017), the best way to protect skin health and prevent skin cancer is to limit sun exposure, avoid prolonged time in the sun, and choose to be in the shade rather than in direct sunlight. This is the easiest and most cost effective method that can be utilized, however, as Caribbean people, this may prove itself to be virtually impossible at time. Other methods include wearing products with SPF which range from makeup, sunscreen or sunblock. Mineral makeup such as Your True Shade offers SPF 15 and can be added to your daily routine. YTS loose powder foundation, matte mineral foundation, in addition to the YTS tinted moisturizer can be used to help protect the skin from harmful effects of the sun as they are SPF 15 products. Wearing a hat, choosing the time of day in which you stroll in the Sun (UV rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.), keeping hydrated or just using an umbrella can also help.

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Coolibar. (2017, March 28). SunAWARE | The Coolibar Sun Protection Blog. Retrieved from

Do Sunscreen Numbers Mean? SPF Ratings, Brands And UV Rays Explained. Retrieved from

Saini, R. and Szemplinski, A. (2013, August 28) How to Choose the Right Sunscreen for your Skin Type.

WebMD. (n.d.). Cosmetic Procedures: Sun Exposure and Skin Cancer. Retrieved from

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