So I hear you are thinking, do black people sunburn? Errr yeah!
The first time I got sunburnt was in the summer of 2008, when I took my first vacation as an adult. I had just joined Deloitte Ireland as a trainee auditor and the trip was part of the package the company offered for accepting a place on the trainee program.
Off we went to the beautiful coast of Albufeira in Portugal with its party streets and beautiful beaches and NO sunscreen because ahan I’m a black girl, who spent 15 years of her life in Nigeria. Sure my skin is made for the sun and it shone as it soaked it up on this trip. And thanks to a little thing called ‘melanin’ , I am protected against the harmful effects of ultraviolet (UV) rays. Little did I know…
I didn’t know straight away that I had been sunburnt, got back home to Dublin and discovered my back itched badly. It looked red and felt tender to touch, eventually it dried off and started to peel. While was catching up with a friend about my trip, it turned out I might have experienced sunburn because “she gets it the same way” (she’s Caucasian). The following summer I didn’t get sunburnt so I assumed it was the Portugal sun – maybe the ozone layer in those parts are completely striped (I actually feel embarrassed admitting to this).
Moving on! I bought my first sun cream on my next trip just to avoid burning (a really cheap brand, must have been factor 15), which I also on my trips to Nigeria. But I never got sunburnt again. Instead, I developed a sun allergy – see my post on Sun Allergy and Me.
Now fast forward to the summer of 2019, on a family trip to the South of France; combined with a bout of sun allergy I got my worse sunburn ever! See graphic pictures below…
I swear these images don’t capture how much pain I was in but we were on a family holiday so I couldn’t be my usual moaning self 😩
We had been out at a water park before my sunburn episode and I diligently used factor 30 sunscreen plus a wide-brim hat but the sun was like “girl I’ve missed you!” “Here’s a stamp!” oh I also used my an aftersun cream – I thought I was safe! 😩
In hindsight, I would use factor 50 when planning on staying so long outdoors, take an aftersun cream with me (possibly just aloe vera gel) and wear a sun-protection swim wear.
The scary thing with all these is the fact that I frequently hear about sun damage and link to skin cancer etc I’ve been blinded by something as trivial as a myth “black people don’t burn” and I’ve not seen what damage it’s already causing my skin. I’ve contemplated getting a daily moisturiser which has spf in it, most of the ones I found online were little tubes meant for the face, like how many tubes of that will cover my body?! on a daily basis too… sigh the search for the perfect solution continues…
Are you black and get sunburn too? Hit me up in the comments section to share your story, provide tips (if you have any) or just to cry together 😢
I’m about as white as a ghost, so I feel your pain… ❤
I am black and I found it weird to have sunburn only to research and find it occurs. I was affected around the neck region and I could feel the burns, very itchy. I used the factor 15 cream that you recommended and I have not experienced sunburns again.
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That’s great to hear! I’ld also advise to always keep an eye on it when the sun’s out. All the best!
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