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Sunscreen manufacturers bombard you daily with their mega-budget advertising campaigns. Fair-skinned models urge you to get into the habit of using sunscreens everyday. While it is true that white-skinned Caucasian individuals have a need to protect their sensitive skins with sunscreens, do we, as darker-skinned individuals, really need to copy this same habit? Here are some scientific reasons why sunscreens are less important for most Indians and why, medically speaking, black is beautiful.
Nature has already installed an “inbuilt umbrella” within your skin. This is the pigment melanin which gives your skin its darker colour. Just like photochromic glasses, which automatically become dark with sun exposure, melanin along with other factors, becomes activated and darker with sun exposure. This natural tanning is your “inbuilt umbrella” which protects the lower layers of your skin.
On the beach, compared to your white-skinned friends, you are much less likely to experience a severe, blistering or beet-red burn reaction with sun exposure.
You are much less prone to skin cancers, since your skin does not allow harmful sun-radiation to penetrate to the lower layers of your skin. However, please do not ignore any suspicious looking bump or mole on your skin. Get it examined IMMEDIATELY by your local dermatologist.
You are probably deficient in Vitamin D. Unlike your white-skinned friends from colder countries, who actively seek the sun, you probably avoid sunlight and do not indulge in sun-bathing or sun-tanning. Some amount of mild early morning or evening sun-exposure is essential, not just for production of this bone forming vitamin but also for other medical reasons.
You are most likely sweating in the hot and muggy Indian climate. Application of any cream in such conditions would be not only be uncomfortable, but chances are that your expensive sunscreen is going to be washed or wiped off.
However, if you still insist on trying to avoid even a wee bit of tan, then use sunscreens as per international recommendations. Don't rely just on SPF numbers, but use a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen. Apply about 30 ml every 2 hours on sun exposed areas. Do not forget to apply over the top of the feet, exposed legs, forearms, backup of the hands, back of the neck, nose and over the ears. This amount might pinch your pocket considerably. Consider using sun-protective, full-sleeved clothing if you really need to step out in the strong sunlight.
Don't expect to become more fairer than your baseline skin colour. Understand that you are darker for evolutionary reasons. Be thankful that you have some amount of inbuilt sun-protection bestowed to you by nature.