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BN Beauty: Does Light Skin Age Faster than Dark Skin? Maybe – Here’s Why!

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Whenever I hear the phrase “Black don’t crack” I see it as a term of endearment and a source of intrigue. It somewhat assures me that even when I’m in my 40s, and thinking about the inevitable sagging in various places, the unknown genetic makeup that ensures my black ‘uncrackable’ is on my side. And this got me thinking – why doesn’t black crack?

Is it due to the many years black people had to struggle to have our voices heard? Or perhaps we are just blessed extra.

It turns out, one of the major reasons why I might not have to worry about ageing too quickly is because of Melanin.

In case you don’t remember that complex diagram of the skin and its components, which we were forced to learn in Biology, here’s a refresher. Melanin is basically the sticky substance that performs a host of jobs in our skin. These jobs range from absorbing and distributing harmful UV rays from the sun, to dictating how light or dark our hair, iris and skin are (coupled with other factors like genetics etc).

Think of it this way – melanin is the reason why Kenyan actress Lupita Nyong’o is dark skinned and Ibinabo Fiberesima is light-skinned.

Now, this melanin doesn’t just come in 2 variants. There are many types and they pertain to different races. Asians have a yellowish melanin called the phaeomelanin, while black skin produces the darkest and thickest form of melanin, eumelanin. This is where our secret lies.

The skin ages in 2 ways – chronologically (which is inevitable; the numbers will eventually add up), and through photoageing. The later process basically relates to how much damage is done to the skin based on sun exposure. Believe it or not, the sun actually is responsible for a lot of the damage done to the skin like dark spots, wrinkling & fine lines, tan lines, roughness etc.

Since melanin is responsible for how much sun damage our skin is able to withstand, and is darkest and thickest in black skin, it automatically means the darker your skin, the  higher your immunity is to sun damage and therefore ageing.

According to a study by Kays Kaidbey and his colleagues in the US, they found that a higher percentage of UV rays penetrate Caucasian skin while a lesser amount penetrates African-American skin, showing that photoageing is delayed in darker skin. The research also shows that individuals with darker skin start to show serious signs of ageing when they are in their 50s or 60s unlike those with lighter skin.

Right now you might be asking, “so what does this mean for light-skinned people”.

Well, individuals with lighter skin produce finer forms of melanin which may not have the capability to protect their skin from UV rays 100%. This is why sunscreen is imperative. Not only would it help light skin fight off the harsh effects of sun damage, it will also help reduce the pace of ageing.

However, sunscreen doesn’t just apply to light skinned- people. Even dark-skinned people can get Cancer and forms of skin damage if they are careless with sun exposure.

The moral of this story; whether you’re dark skinned or light-skinned take care of your skin by paying attention to it, protecting it and feeding it. This way your skin remains timeless even if you are light or dark-skinned.

***Disclaimer All content within this column is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care professional. BellaNaija is not responsible or liable for any diagnosis made by a user based on the content of this site/column. BellaNaija is not liable for the contents of any external sites referenced. If you have concerns about your health, always reach out to your Personal Doctor or Dermatologist.

Photo Credit: Dreamstime/ Hongqi Zhang (aka Michael Zhang)

Jennifer is the Beauty Editor & Style Representative of BellaNaija.com. Get in touch - Send an email to: beauty(at)bellanaija.com or style(at)bellanaija.com | Follow us on Instagram: @bellanaijabeauty OR @bellanaijastyle | Follow us on Twitter: @bellanaijastyle

19 Comments

  1. Fisayo

    February 12, 2015 at 6:56 pm

    Umm ibinabo is mixed race… So she def has to be light skinned.

    • Ufuoma

      February 12, 2015 at 9:35 pm

      Did we just read the same article? She simply used ibinabo as an example of a light skinned person,her parental origin/lineage has nothing to do with the article

  2. Zara

    February 12, 2015 at 10:59 pm

    Ohhhhh Sugar!!!!!

  3. MC

    February 12, 2015 at 11:57 pm

    But everybody knows this though…no?
    Im pretty sure i was taught this in primary school

    • ms.b

      February 13, 2015 at 1:17 am

      Stop lying, sure u just heard about it sef.

  4. Pat

    February 13, 2015 at 3:03 am

    Also, the reason why dark skin people age slowly is because of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen (CHO) in the body.

    • anwuli

      February 13, 2015 at 10:51 am

      huh?

  5. SOLO ACT

    February 13, 2015 at 7:26 am

    stop deceiving yourselves! light skin is always going to be popular. not saying it right but its true.

    • Enn!

      February 13, 2015 at 9:10 am

      so wat does that av to with dis, did u read d article at all?..SMH

    • Lakeesha hollis

      November 1, 2016 at 6:53 am

      I love my chocolate skin tone. How do you feel when the white slave masters were rapping those chocolate girls and birthing light skin babies how in the hell you think they felted. Most was kepted and sold off and maybe killed so you need to give respect to those African women 1stokay.

  6. amy

    February 13, 2015 at 9:07 am

    Dark skinned are blessed extra…. Black is an attitude….. Am made of. BLACK, what are u made of????? Yellow?????

    • anwuli

      February 13, 2015 at 10:54 am

      huh?

      So many clueless comments here, true.
      Africans have a long way to go dealing with their skin colour complex.
      Article had nothing to do with preferences, yet ppl be spewing strange stuff. Smh

  7. RIFF RAFF

    February 13, 2015 at 9:23 am

    The more the beauty and benefits of having melanin is preached, the more i see women with burned/pot-pourri-like complexions. Very soon, one will need to go to the museum or to Sudan to see what the original blacks looked like

  8. papermoon

    February 13, 2015 at 12:46 pm

    yea,,,,,this is just another “20 reasons why dark skin is better than fair skin” i hope it helps. I believe the condition of a person’s skin depends on genes and how you take care of it. I ve seen Lola omotayo and she looks better than a lot of people her age no matter their skin colour and i ve seen kate henshaw and she also look way better than most people her age so whats up?

    About the sun screen, i have a little experience of my very own oo. When this sunscreen craze came up i went to get my own bottles. i really slattered them on and enjoyed the dewy skin and all that came with it, then crackkkk, i went broke. i could not buy it anymore. when i stepped into the sun…………..the sun roasted me well well, burn me up and darkened my skin. i was alarmed and went to see the ……what do you call it…….skin doctor. The dear guy said, the skin has a way of protecting itself from the sun’s rays, especially black skin, no matter the shade. When we use sunscreen, the skin stops doing it because the sunscreen takes over and works in its own way. at this point its dangerous to stop using the sunscreen because the skin has stopped protecting itself. that was why i got burnt up. the moral of the story, it is better not to start using sunscreens at all. just stay out of the sun if you can or cover yourself up with an umbrella of something if you have to go out. take it easy on the chemicals. i stayed away from the sunscreen and I got my skin back. thats my experience

  9. deb

    February 13, 2015 at 1:22 pm

    i think y’al are missing the point. Just take care of your skin, regardless of whether its black, white, yellow, orange, pink, green (i’m joking here), etc. Take care of your skin.

  10. tara

    February 14, 2015 at 3:00 am

    I think they are both two beautiful melaninated women! i have learned so much from melanic tees that i am proud to wear my tee because i have MELANIN!! xoxo

  11. Raging

    February 14, 2015 at 1:15 pm

    Totally! I dont understand what a reader was supposed to get from this article. Are we supposed to suddenly be put off by lighter skin? Is this the odd perk for being dark skinned? What is the premise of this article, what is the call to action? And if it is a take care of your skin article, the title sure as hell mislead me. BN writers do better.

    • ran wise

      May 25, 2016 at 12:51 pm

      Puh-leese. People have been put off by dark skin for centuries. And as soon as someone says someone writes a positive article about dark skin, you have a heart attack. Calm down!

  12. verban

    January 25, 2016 at 5:50 pm

    To maintain healthy and great looking skin, use your broad spectrum sunscreen daily. I’ve used EXTRASHADE sunscreen and love it’s lightweight, moisturizing and doesn’t leave white streaks on my skin! I LOVE IT!

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