Sun damage affects people of all skin types, but dark-skinned people are often at a different type of risk than lighter-skinned people. In some ways, people with dark skin tones may be at even greater risk to the damages of sun exposure than people with lighter skin tones.

Natural Protection, but It's Limited

Your dark skin color is comprised largely of a substance called melanin, which is the skin's own compound to protect itself from the cell-damaging effects of the sun's rays. Because dark skin naturally has more melanin than light skin, it takes longer for you to get a sun burn and, depending on how dark your skin is, you may not have what appears to be a "tan," the earlier stage of sun exposure with a darkening effect of the skin prior to sun burn. Nevertheless, your skin may start to become damaged after only twenty to thirty minutes of exposure to the sun without protection, even if you can't see the immediate effects.

Sunscreen

Because you don't as quickly see the effects of sun exposure as people with lighter skin, you may be even more likely to forget to apply sunscreen or think that you have no reason to apply it. This is all the more reason why you need to wear sunscreen before your skin begins to exhibit the premature aging, uneven tone and possible skin cancer that is a result of sun damage.

Because of the natural sun damage-fighting properties of darker skin, you may forget that you need protection as much as a lighter-skinned person, which puts you at greater risk for developing serious side effects of sun exposure. Apply sunscreen with a SPF of 30 or higher every day, even on cloudy days and cold days so that it becomes a part of your routine.