“Yes, I want to go tanning with you.” Words I never thought would come out of my mouth. I grew up in a predominantly white neighborhood in South Florida, so naturally my high school was predominantly white. I remember doing everything I could to stay out of the sun. Whether it was wearing hoodies and hats, or cancelling on my friends when they would want to go tanning.
I lived 30 minutes away from the beach and can count on my hands how many times I went. I didn’t want to get “darker,” a thought that was fueled by my traditional Dominican mother. Let’s face it, she received her own generational trauma so I don’t hold her to it. To give you some background, as in many other countries, Dominican Republic symbolizes the color of your skin to your amount of wealth; the darker you are, the more likely it is that you’re not as financially privileged as your lighter counterparts. It’s unfathomable that the
color of our skin predetermines our career and wealth. I remember Googling “Products to Bleach Your Skin” and reading reviews to determine which was the best and safest one to pitch to my parents for their approval. Of course, they all sounded suspicious but my Scorpio sun was laser focused on one thing: lighter skin. I didn’t care how, all I knew is I wanted to deny that I was darker when my white friends put their arms against mine to compare skin tones commenting “we’re almost the same color.” My parents were hesitant and couldn’t quite find the words as I pleaded, “Please, I just want my face and rest of my body to match my chest” which was significantly lighter than every other part of my body. I didn’t go through with it. My memory can’t recall why but I’m really happy I didn’t. I also don’t remember when I started loving my skin color but I remember it hit me like I had plummeted into a new galaxy.
Now, I look in the mirror and bless my beautiful dark skin. Sometimes I’ll just stand there and look at myself, questioning why I ever wanted to change anything about it. I come from ancestors who gave everything they had to fight for their freedom and mine. I come from ancestors who thanked the Sun for rising each day and basked in its warmth. My Melanin protects me. My Melanin is me. Want to go tanning?
READ ON for the best sunscreens for dark skin.
Finding the perfect sunscreen is paramount for dark skin folks. First, let’s make sure that we’re aware about the myth that melanin-abundant folks don’t need to wear sunscreen. We all do. It is true that people with lighter skin and less melanin are more prone to get sunburnt, however, the sun’s harsh rays still affect people with darker skin, sometimes resulting in skin cancer. We have to take care of our skin just like our skin takes care of us.
Eleven by Venus Williams Unrivaled Sun Serum SPF 35 – $50
This sunscreen is getting rave reviews online and of course it is. What can’t this woman do? Transparent, non-chalky, and a smooth velvety finish.
Infused with natural ingredients, vegan and cruelty-free, and helps prevent sun damage, premature aging, fine lines, hyperpigmentation, and dark spots.
- Mele No Shade Sunscreen Oil Broad Spectrum for Melanin Rich Skin – $19.99
Co-created with dermatologists of color, this quickly absorbing oil protects collagen-producing cells so that you keep that youthful skin.