The resounding answer is YES! Even those with the darkest skin color can get sunburnt! Although it is true that people of color have higher protection against UV light due to higher levels of melanin in their skin, consider this: while Caucasian skin provides an SPF of 3 – 4, black skin only provides an SPF of 13. People of color generally get wrinkles 10 or more years later than their Caucasian counterparts. This is in large part due to increased protection from the ravaging effects of UV light on dermal collagen.
However, the bad part is that the melanocytes that produce melanin are much more labile in people with color. Without regular use of sunscreen, people of color tend to develop brown spots on their sun-exposed areas and black, thicker spots commonly found on the face (picture Morgan Freeman).
People of color can develop skin cancer, and when they do, it is often deadly because it goes unnoticed for longer. An example of this is Bob Marley who died at the age of 36 from melanoma under his toenail which he dismissed as a soccer injury.
About 65% of African Americans in a recent study never wore sunscreen despite living in sunny climates and 60% believed they were not at risk for skin cancer. It’s high time to dispel the myth that dark skin does not require sun-protection! People of all colors should make it a daily habit to wear an SPF of minimum 30 year round.