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Co-Founder of Sleek Studio Dr. Ebele Ugochukwu says “Sunscreen is Not Just For White & Light Skinned People” | Read



SHF_6472 (1) (1)It is a popular belief that people with dark skin do not have to worry about sun exposure.

This is so not true.

Granted, the more melanin (the pigment responsible for the colour in our skin) the more you can withstand sun exposure.
The Fitzpatrick scale which classifies human skin pigmentation on a scale of 1 to 6 with 1 representing very pale skin that always burns and never tans with sun exposure to 6 being dark skin that never burns and tans easily.

According to the above scale, the ability to withstand sun exposure is referring to the fact that you do not burn – if you are dark skinned, due to protection from melanin. However, the damage caused by sunlight (ultraviolet rays) at the cellular level also affects people with dark skin; obviously not as severely as pale people but the damage does occur nonetheless.

This damage is the singular most important factor in the ageing process. People of colour do not age as obviously as those of Caucasian descent; the popular saying is true ‘black don’t crack’; so it is very possible to maintain the same skin you had in your thirties well into your sixties and beyond. The key is to protect yourself from the sun; in addition to other healthy practices of course, but the most important is limiting sun exposure.

So let’s talk about sunscreen.
In recent times, there has been an increase in awareness regarding the use of sunscreen but it is still largely confusing for most people.

Sunscreens can be broadly classified in to chemical absorbers and physical blockers. Chemical absorbers penetrate the skin and act by neutralizing the damaging sun rays (Ultra violet light; UVA/UVB); this class of sunscreen however can be irritating and allergy inducing, examples include Avobenzone, oxybenzone, para-aminobenozoic acid (PABA). Use of PABA has declined over the years due to the fact that it is highly irritating.

The second class are the physical blockers and these act as a barrier which the UVA/UVB bounce off of; they do not penetrate the skin hence it is usually not irritating or allergy inducing. However, they do tend to be thick, heavy and leave a whitish residue on the skin. Examples include Titanium dioxide, zinc oxide.

There are other chemical compounds used in sunscreen but as this is not a thesis, I will just leave it at the more common ones I have mentioned.

If you are label reader, (if you are not, I aim to make you one) you will come across titanium dioxide quite frequently.

Zinc oxide also is a very good broad spectrum sun screening agent.

Most cosmetic companies usually combine both chemical absorbers and physical blockers in their formulations in an attempt to minimise the adverse effects of the two groups.

The next thing you need to know about is SPF – which is Sun Protection Factor. This simply is a measure of how long it will take you to burn when out in the sun. If it takes you, say 30 minutes, for your skin to feel hot and sore under direct sun exposure, then the rationale is if you apply a product with an SPF of 15. It will take you 15×30 minutes to burn from sun exposure.

Obviously this is only a guide. Experts believe sunscreen should be reapplied every 2 hours irrespective of the SPF value. This of course is referring to those who actively sun bathe; even though we do not practise sun bathing often here in Nigeria, our sun exposure is intense.

People of colour absolutely need to use products with an SPF of at least 30 minutes before going out for their daily activities. This is still important even if you will not be in direct sunlight, the little bit that shines into your car on your way to work is enough to age you prematurely. Think of SPF as your pension plan for your skin, you may not see any real benefits now but trust me, you will be glad you did when you’re older.
The experts believe that SPF 30 is adequate. In fact, SPF of 100+ is a marketing gimmick; so also is all day water proof sunscreen. Sunscreen needs to be reapplied to remain effective.

For us women, reapplication of sunscreen when our faces are on fleek with makeup is a tall order; that is where SPF powders come in, regular touch ups with a an SPF powder should keep your face protected all day. Most Makeup companies are now making SPF powders.

The world leaders in SPF creams remains Neutrogena. They have an unparalleled formulation for effective yet light weight SPF lotions and creams that are easy to wear and comfortable even in our hot humid climate.

S-studio’s SPF 30 day cream is also light weight, mattifying and adequately moisturises the skin so you are getting much more than just a sunscreen.

When you know you will be in direct sunlight, other measures must be employed in addition to your SPF cream, these include; big sunglasses, wide brim hats and umbrellas.

Excessive sun exposure has been implicated in various forms of skin cancer, so this is not only about vanity, it’s also about your health.

Use your SPF daily and other protective measures for the times you will be under direct sunlight; your 70year old self will thank you.

Dr Ebele Ugochukwu obtained her medical degree from the University of Jos, Plateau State, Nigeria. She later obtained a diploma in practical dermatology from University of Cardiff Wales. She is the MD of Sleek Studio Ltd, a company that specializes in the sales and marketing of Sleek Makeup from the UK and the company owned skin care line. She has experimented extensively with different skin care formulations and brands. Her qualifications and years of experience has led to her interest and devotion to cosmetic dermatology. Dissemination of Healthy skin care practises is the goal of Dr Ebele and she intends to achieve this by providing training, workshops and seminars to educate the Nigerian public.


  1. Tunmi

    April 18, 2016 at 1:30 pm

    Thank you Doc

  2. loosh

    April 18, 2016 at 1:33 pm

    Na so e dey start. Ndi overdo! Research/study has found that… Capitalism is destroying the world gradually. Unfortunately, Africans are even selling their own out for wealth, with the supposedly enlightened and exposed ones importing 1st world problems to our never-ending 3rd world problems. Mbok, wetin our ancestors don dey use for ages wey dem no get skin cancer? Now our girls are scared of their natural faces because without ‘good make-up’, they have to struggle with self-confidence and acceptance.

    I live in Scandinavia, a region mostly populated with White people and I see everyday the damage that has been afflicted on our psyche and beings as Africans. there is alot going on behind the scenes of the world. Robert De Niro was recently forced by Big Pharma to pull off a documentary on the links if Autism to vaccinations in his Tribeca Film Festival. An occurence which allegedly affects more of Black people. Meanwhile Bill Gates is spearheading massive vaccination all over Africa. The internet is our friend. Palm Oil too was bastardized as Cancerous food supplement because it is indigenous to our part of the World. Recently there was also some news of someone Googling ‘unprofessional hairstyles’ only for search results full of natural African hairstyles to come up. How long are we going to beat ourselves down to be Eurocentric? How long are we gonna take advantage of ourselves? Merchants, dealers and slaves?

    Moral of the story: Let us learn to accept and love ourselves and not look forward to viewing ourselves through the eyes of other races. Set up our science, technology and research centres and stop relying on outer validation or estimation.

    • The girl who flies planes

      April 18, 2016 at 2:15 pm

      You are so ignorant its destructive!
      I wear SPF 50 daily. i am dark not light, so please find out the people who have died of Skin cancer that are black. Even Nigerians.

    • nene

      April 18, 2016 at 3:13 pm

      u are very smart!

    • Pat

      April 18, 2016 at 4:31 pm

      @losh Gbam! Again apart from skin cancer and those health research they perform people are not aware that such researches are geared towards other races and not the African or black race. Our genetic making is very different from other races. On another note I feel sorry for Africans who abandon their native diet and predominately rely on a diet that does not improve their genetic making.

    • Waterchild

      April 18, 2016 at 8:38 pm

      @loosh You would do well to actually read up on the controversy surrounding autism and vaccination. There are absolutely no links between them. The author of the paper that started this rubbish (Andrew Wakefield, published in the Lancet) was discredited several years ago. Vaccination has brought us a long way form diseases like small pox, measles, chicken pox, polio etc. Read more (actual research not just blogs) to actually feed your brain, and you will be better for it.

  3. Pretty O

    April 18, 2016 at 2:12 pm

    Thank you, i learnt the hard way. I was overseas on vacation and i didn’t think i would need sunscreen. “Black people don’t need it…” LOL i was wrong. I got some serious sunburn, and my skin was peeling like crazy. Now I know better…. Thanks Ebele for this information to others 🙂

    • sista

      April 18, 2016 at 3:39 pm

      …I don’t get you. back home in naija or any part if Africa where you stay, you didn’t see the need to sunscreen but you felt the need to use it under oyibo sun.
      please educate me. does the sun work in those two situations?
      2 is the oyibo sun “scorchier” than the African sun?

    • Pretty O

      April 18, 2016 at 4:55 pm

      P.S. I don’t live in naija or any part of Africa, thanks

    • Miss Chick

      April 18, 2016 at 5:02 pm

      @sista please THINK before you type, smh

    • Adada

      April 18, 2016 at 5:47 pm

      Actually from my experience the sun is different. I am not so sure of the scientific details, maybe the way the sun hits those closer to the equator differs from other areas. Also the ozone layer is less in industrialized areas than in rural areas. The sun in the U.S burns me and I get darker. In nigeria, it’s hot but I don’t get burned or darker

  4. Uju Lilian Ikegbune

    April 18, 2016 at 2:45 pm

    Well said Doc! you can visit to order for Skincare products,

  5. Mrs Nwosu

    April 18, 2016 at 2:59 pm

    Thanks Doctor Ebele, I had allowed my face to be so burned it was bad, I never believed that we can use sun screen on an african skin, i am fair in complexion. Overtime going for facials to get my face back , I was introduced to SPF 15 and ever since my face is coming back to its natural form.

  6. Jo

    April 18, 2016 at 3:11 pm

    When I was younger, I never knew Africans could suffer sun burns due to our skin pigmentation. I was in for a scary shock when on a particular Sunday years ago, I attended a church service that was held in an open space without shade from the sun. I was adorned in a lace blouse. 2 days later, I looked into the mirror and saw the imprint of the lace on my shoulders; the sun had burnt the skin on my shoulders and left an outline of the lace. I felt like yanking my skin away and running from it. My friends who saw the burns days later could all tell the blouse I had on by the design of the lace. The burns faded away some days later. Well, now I am more learned. thanks for the info.

  7. naijarants

    April 18, 2016 at 3:42 pm

    Yep, sunscreen is very important. I learnt that lesson the hard way. And to be honest, there doesn’t seem to be a large variety of sunsceeen for people with dark skin. Still haven’t found one that completely blends with my dark skin without making it look ashy (please recommendations are needed) Currently, I use Neutrogena ultrasheer dry-touch which is not so bad (it’s light and only a tad ashy) followed by a layer of brown powder to blend the colour.

    • Ginger

      April 18, 2016 at 6:10 pm

      You can just use colourless sunscreen. It’s in every drugstore or you can order online. No biggie. I don’t know why Nigerians think using sunscreen is a big deal. Everyone should use sunscreen

    • Ello Bae

      April 18, 2016 at 10:17 pm

      Try Aveeno’s sunscreen. It does not leave that ashy residue. If anything it moisturizes my skin and clears my dark spots. I apply sunscreen at the back of my neck,chest and arms.

  8. chi-e-z

    April 18, 2016 at 4:44 pm

    I agree 100% my heat rash/pimples stay kept at bay when I’ve sunscreen. im like Not Tooday ! 😀

  9. Bolanle

    April 18, 2016 at 6:44 pm

    Sunscreen is so important. I have dark spots from acne scarring. For years they just seemed to get darker and many people kept suggesting that I do laser removal. I was not interested. Anyway, went to Sephora and the salesgirls asked what sunscreen I was using and I said none. She told me it was important to use sunscreen because my spots would get darker without. I was skeptical but I popped to the drugstore to buy it anyway.

    It’s been a 3 months now and I can barely see my spots. My skincare regimen and diet did not change so I think I can attribute the change in my skin to sunscreen.

  10. Aijay.....

    April 18, 2016 at 6:56 pm

    How about one for the body. Or is the focus on the face alone?

    • Anon

      April 18, 2016 at 7:22 pm

      Very good question. I use it on my hands when wearing sleeveless and short sleeves. Also, on my legs when I am not wearing tights (mostly in the summer.)

  11. Omo

    April 18, 2016 at 7:43 pm

    This is so true. I started using sunscreen on my face after coming across a natural skin care page on IG called @goodskinguru. Ever since then, I have used it religiously and I noticed that my dark spots (left behind from acne) are almost completely gone. Although I am not exactly sure what may have contributed the most to getting rid of my dark spots – using my sunscreen daily or exfoliating my face, because I also started making use of my face exfoliator more often around same period that I had began using the sunscreen product. Either way, I couldn’t be more thankful for haven learned this earlier because my skin is so clear now. Thanks @GoodSkinGuru, u guys rock! Thanks Dr Ebele.

  12. Amak

    April 19, 2016 at 8:59 am

    sunscreen works alright..but it will definitely make you darker(a living proof)..if u don’t mind getting darker, go for it darlings.

  13. Dr. Ebele Ugochukwu

    April 21, 2016 at 3:58 pm

    thanks everyone for your comments and feedback.
    Using sunscreen will not necessarily prevent you from darkening when out in the sun for extended periods, it will only neutralize the harmful effects of uv rays. However, if you just started wearing sunscreen, you may notice a ‘lightening effect’ because your skin is now protected from increased melanin activity. @Omo, your skin is lightening most likely due to exfoliation. Exfoliation is the secret to success for people of color and is my next topic of conversation so stay tuned.

  14. lanre

    May 13, 2016 at 5:04 pm

    Pls doctor I have some rashes on my skin it not really the normal rash around and I visited the hospital the doctor said I need to see a dermatologist pls do u have an insight of what I can do it really passing me off can off my cloth outside pls reply soon

    • Dr. Ebele Ugochukwu

      May 24, 2016 at 6:01 pm

      please call 08033014091 to schedule an appointment. thank you.

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