Beauty

The dangerous misconception that black skin can't get skin cancer, and other dark skin myths debunked

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Megan Murray
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From laser hair removal to skin bleaching, we asked an expert to set the record straight when it comes to some of the biggest misconceptions about black skin. 

Dija Ayodele is an aesthetician. She is also the founder of the Black Skin Directory (BSD), which connects women of colour to dermatologists and skincare professionals experienced in the unique demands of darker skin.

You can understand, then, why we decided that Ayodele is the person best qualified to debunk some of the most commonly believed myths about black skin

Myths such as, for example, the belief that people of colour can’t get skin cancer. 

“Oh gosh,” Ayodele says, shaking her head in dismay. “This is a really big myth. It’s a big bugbear of mine.”

How to look after black skin

Ayodele goes on to explain that, yes, it is typically less likely that a black person will get skin cancer compared to a Caucasian person because of their skin’s natural spf of 13. That being said, though, it definitely is still a possibility. What’s more, people of colour are actually more likely to die from the illness if they do get it.

“It’s really down to the fact that we don’t follow the same sun protection methods as a Caucasian person. All skin types and skin colours need sun protection,” she confirms. 

Going on to tackle that age-old rumour of ‘black don’t crack’, Ayodele says: “It’s a popular one. While black skin might not show fine lines and wrinkles as early as Caucasian skin, black skin can suffer from stubborn hyperpigmentation and mottled patchy looking skin. Fine lines and wrinkles happen later, but in the meantime there’s other things that are going on as well that do make the skin look aged.”

Noting that some women of colour can be put off from using hair removal lasers, as some of them (such as IPL) can harm black skin and cause discolouration, Ayodele explains that Nd:YAG is a laser especially designed for darker skin and is safe from scarring.

“It has a much longer wavelength that bypasses the skin and so therefore doesn’t actually attack the colour in the skin and goes straight to the hair follicles, which means it’s a much more effective way of removing hair,” she says. 

You can watch the full video above.

If you’re a woman of colour who’s struggling to find a skin care professional that’s trained in your needs, check out the Black Skin Directory

Images: Getty 

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Megan Murray

Megan Murray is a digital journalist for stylist.co.uk, who enjoys writing about London happenings, beautiful places, delicious morsels and generally spreading sparkle wherever she can.

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