The misconceptions surrounding darker skin tones and the need for sunscreen are endless. Many people of color—myself included—have gone through life blissfully believing that the melanin in our skin was some sort of kryptonite for the intense power of UV rays. When your naturally sun-protected skin is just another one of many superpowers, who needs an SPF?
As a twenty-something skincare fanatic, I can admit my own lack of knowledge on the topic was inexcusable. After all, I'd always taken pride in my use of the internet to heal my hyper-sensitive skin of all its issues, and believe you me, there were issues. Whether it was ingrown hairs, fungal body acne, or even the newest of villains, maskne, I'd always been able to turn to Twitter and Youtube as a resource for product reviews and recommendations.
I can admit I never gave sun protection the same attention I devoted to my acne and ingrown hairs for so many years. I won't beat around the bush here; the conversation just isn't the same in Black households. Not mine, anyway. As a child, the pre-beach day mornings did not consist of my mother reminding us countless times to apply sunscreen. She did, however, remind us to pack an extra swim cap to protect our hair from drying in the saltwater.
As I matured and SPF became a recurring topic among beauty bloggers, my own thoughts of, "Do we really need SPF? We can't burn, can we? Our skin absorbs the rays anyway, right?" kept me in a haze of ignorance. (Spoiler alert: Yes. Black people need sunscreen.) Despite my own uncertainties, I'd purchased a few in trial. However, the stark white casts and heavy formulas often left me greasy, comically pale, and immersed in regret.
When faced with the question of whether or not I'd be applying sunscreen, I always mindlessly opted out. That is until it happened.
By it, I'm referring to the occurrence of my very own natural forehead contour. I woke up one day to the skin around my hairline noticeably darker in color than the rest of my face. Initially, I wasn't concerned. I'll just change my pillowcases, I concluded, shrugging it off. I couldn't have been farther from the truth, and my mistake became more and more visible as my condition worsened.
Each day, the color of my forehead grew deeper in comparison to the rest of my face. A harsh line of demarcation between my hairline and eyebrows comically mocked me each morning that I trudged sleepily into the bathroom, hoping that my attempts at physical exfoliation (i.e, aggressive face-scrubbing that only left me with a damaged moisture barrier) from the night prior had done the trick.
It hadn't. After noticing that too many of my daily social encounters involved those around me averting their eyes from what I'd dubbed my very own five-o'clock shadow, I grew more determined than ever to find a solution. I did what anybody my age would've done: I turned to Twitter. With the help of the wise skincare guru Tiara Willis, I found an easy solution to my seemingly incurable skin issue. I scrolled through a plethora of Tiara Willis's tweets before finding her stance of advocacy for sunscreen being a hyperpigmentation-fighting essential.
Lucky for me, Tiara also listed the best sunscreens for black people that didn't leave a white cast, organized by suitability for various skin types. With my oily, acne-prone skin, I knew I'd be better off with a light, soothing formula. Among the many recommendations, I found my final and most impactful addition to my extensive skincare regimen.
Cue Paula's Choice Youth-Extending Daily Hydrating Fluid. This lightweight moisturizer consists of oat and green tea extracts to calm redness and soothe sensitivity. Formulated with a multi-antioxidant blend and Broadspectrum SPF 50, this moisturizer promotes a youthful complexion while protecting the skin against the sun. The water-like texture dries in a remarkably hydrating, satin-matte finish making this product a holy grail for those with oily skin.
Aside from its hyperpigmentation-fighting abilities, the formula of this sunscreen keeps me coming back. Upon application, it quickly absorbs and seamlessly blends into my skin without leaving an embarrassing casket-ready white cast. I'm a firm believer that no step in my skincare regimen should be as strenuous as a workout. The fact that I don't find myself aggressively working for minutes to rub this product in only to see that I'm left both greasy and gray in the face is greatly appreciated.
Not to mention, the next-to-nothing feel of this sunscreen is a God-send. I cherish the fact that it doesn't feel like I'm wearing SPF, or like I've added an extra step to my skincare regimen.
As somebody with naturally oily skin, I enjoy products that don't feel suffocating or like they're just sitting on my face as an unnecessary last step.
For me, it's all about how my chosen products combine and work together to help me keep as clear of a complexion as possible. If we're being honest, the idea that I no longer had to choose between sun protection and shining like the top of the Chrysler building was the only selling point I needed. This sunscreen has been the missing puzzle piece to achieving that flawless fresh face I'd never thought was possible.
Sunscreen is essential in the fight against hyperpigmentation because it effectively blocks the UV rays that allow for the buildup of photodamage that subsequently darkens the skin. Within three days of use, the appearance of the line of demarcation that was ornamenting my forehead had begun to fade, and with it went my embarrassment and feelings of self-consciousness.
Unfortunately, I had to learn the magnitude of the value of SPF the hard way. However, the flawlessly even skin tone I now wear proudly has made this lesson completely worth learning. Paula's Choice Youth-Extending Daily Hydrating Fluid has been the latest and most impactful addition to my AM skincare routine, and one thing for sure: I'll never go unprotected again.
The powers of this product lie in its name. Daily hydration is one thing, but I think we can agree that people of all skin tones can benefit from a little anti-aging action. Oily skin girls, this one is for you.
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