Everybody loves the sunshine in the summer…Folks get Brown in the Sun
Roy Ayers was on to something, but one of my most favorite summertime songs is Dead Prez’s “Happiness”. They say,
When the weather be hot everybody be outside.
Having fun, aight, eating fresh fruits and
vegetables. And good food puts me in the mood for a festival.”
The lyrics make me think about being in Brooklyn, NY at a street festival with
vendors, music, beautiful people, good food, children laughing and of course the warm sunshine. I know I can’t be the only one who enjoys being in the sun. With summer slowly approaching, I wanted to discuss the sun and some of the ways it can affect us.
You have probably heard that the sun provides us with Vitamin D which is essential for healthy bones, supporting the immune system, protection against dementia, supporting dental health and more. It is found in almost every kind of human cell including bone and brain cells yet, Vitamin D deficiency is common in communities of color.
Darker skin tends to filter out the rays necessary for Vitamin D production. Vitamin D deficiency has been associated with rickets, cancer, asthma, and many other illnesses. So, if need be, get a simple supplement or more of that good ol’sun.
We often hear about how great the sun feels or how dangerous it can be. There are many myths about sun exposure that are important for people in the Hood to know about.
Myth 1: Black Folk Can’t Get Skin Cancer – It’s true that Black people don’t get skin cancer as frequently as Caucasians. But it’s often misdiagnosed, gone untreated and can kill because by the time it’s figured out what ‘s going on, the cancer has spread to other parts of the body. Don’t get it twisted and think that because you have dark skin you can’t get skin cancer. It can happen Sun! Pun intended.
Myth 2: Skin Cancer can only happen where the sun has been shining. As a matter of fact, skin cancer usually shows up on darker skinned people in areas that are not sun exposed, such as the soles of the feet and on private areas. You know the place on your body known as, “Where the sun don’t shine”? Make sure you pay attention to your body and the changes to your skin like sores that don’t go away or even new moles.
Myth 3: Dark Skin is Sun Protection Factor (SPF) so I’m good – Yes, darker skin does provide some protection from the sun, but you also have to take into consideration, your genetics, immunity and overall health. As a matter of fact, if you take prescription drugs, for epilepsy, asthma, diabetes, hypertension or other ailments, you could be more sensitive to sunburn. Check your prescriptions.
Myth 4: Black Don’t Crack – OK, well this one is almost true according to Dr. Brook Jackson founder and medical director of the Skin Wellness
Center of Chicago. She says,
People of color tend to exhibit issues of photo-aging fifteen to twenty years later than Caucasian people.”
Aging of the skin is a result of sun exposure or ultraviolet (UV) rays from artificial light like in tanning beds. It may just take a longer time to cause your skin to age, but it does happen.
Myth 5: Sunscreen is the only way to protect my skin – Do you laugh when you see someone wearing a big sunhat? Well don’t! They could have albinism or simply need protection from the sun. If you don’t want to wear one, sit in the shade or avoid the sun during its peak, then at least put something on to protect your skin. You don’t have to use a store bought sunscreen with the fancy SPF advertising on the label either.
Did you know that raspberry seed oil, shea butter, coconut oil avocado oil and others have natural SPF properties? Go find local African vendors and get a block of some shea. If you can’t find them, check the beauty supply store. Also go to your local supermarket to get many of these oils. And while you’re there, hit up the produce section and pick up some fresh fruits and vegetables, which help to increase your body’s immunity and defense. Fruits like blueberries and raspberries are some of the highest antioxidant foods on Earth and we know that antioxidants are great for healthy skin. Reapply the oil during the day just as you would sunscreen.
Remember that our skin is our body’s largest organ and can soak up whatever we put on it and the products can wear off. Now go slap on some shea butter and go do some sun salutations in a park. Enjoy your summer!
SciHonor Devotion, CD, CPD, CCCE, CMA, CWSP is a contributing writer
to the Hood Health Handbook set. She is a Labor Doula, Postpartum
Doula, Childbirth Educator, Homebirth Midwife Assistant and Womb Sauna
Practitioner who serves women and girls in her community through
workshop, ceremony and rites of passage. She is also Co-Owner of Queen’s Quisine: Vegetarian and Vegan Catering Company and can be contacted www.facebook.com/EarthDoulas / SciHonor17@gmail.com /