“Knowledge is power”, goes the popular adage, whereas it absence could spell doom for others. This explains why some folks who are ignorant of the potentials of their dark skin or brown skin, go all out in search of whitening cream to make them fairer in colour.
However, dermatologists have validated the merits of dark skin, as it has been found to fight free radicals, protects against skin cancer, makes Africans look younger than their white counterparts, protects skin from ultraviolet radiation, and many more.
The scientists’ confirmation on dark skin potentials was actually a boost to the social media trend, precisely the #BrownSkinGirlChallenge trending on Twitter, which was triggered by the release of Beyonce’s new Album which featured different African singers from Nigeria, South-Africa, Ghana and Cameroon.
Subsequently appreciating the beauty and the excellent performances of the African singers in the Album, who were hitherto discriminated against in some continents as black monkeys, the Twitter community went agog since weekend to celebrate the African skin colour with the hashtag BrownSkinGirlChallenge.
According to a dermatologist with Twenty-five years of experience, Dr Atul Taneja, of Apollo Gleneagles Hospitals, India, black skin is beautiful and it has a lot of health benefits.
His words: “Do you know that your skin colour is darker for very good evolutionary and biological reasons and that medically speaking, it is good that you do not have very fair skin?
“Darker skin is adapted to sunlight and has increased quantity of a pigment called melanin. The more melanin you have, the darker your skin. And the safer you are! Melanin along with other factors, acts as a “natural umbrella” and prevents harmful radiation from entering your skin. These are just some of the reasons why black skin is safe and beautiful”, he stated.
Benefits of Dark Skin
You are less prone to sunburns: White skinned individuals often get painful, carrot-red or tomato-red inflamed sunburns on exposure to sunlight. Some individuals also get blistering sunburns requiring aggressive medical treatment to control the reaction. Your darker skin allows you to spend a much longer time on the beach and you probably have never ever experienced any blister due to sunlight.
Lesser risk of skin cancers: Without melanin, you can imagine white skin as a transparent covering, which allows harmful UV light to penetrate through into the lower layers of the skin. This radiation causes damage to the DNA and a few cells may mutate to cause skin cancers, some of which are deadly. You are lucky that your “natural umbrella ”blocks UV light effectively and cells in different layers of the skin suffer much less damage compared to white-skinned individuals. However, don’t forget to see a dermatologist in case you see any new bump, or in case you see any change in (a)symmetry, border, colour, diameter or evolution (ABCDE) of any existing mole on your skin.
Dermatologist Susan C. Taylor, author of “Brown Skin,” points out that African-Americans and other people of colour generally look younger than their lighter-skinned peers because of the higher levels of melanin in their skin. The increased melanin protects those who have it from short-term damage from the sun, as well as the long-term signs of aging, such as age spots, deep wrinkles and rough texture, according to Taylor.
Targets Free Radicals
Free radicals have been implicated as the cause of widespread damage to human cells. In an article published on www.livestrong, it was reported how melanin’s role in scavenging free radicals, prevents the skin damage they can cause. To explain how melanin fights free-radical damage, Clarke quotes Sergio Nacht, a principal in the skin care consulting firm of Riley-Nacht LLC: “It affects the delicately designed lipids that hold moisture in the stratum corneum.” This is the outermost layer of the epidermis. “If the skin loses its moisture, it becomes rigid and cracks.”
Although increased melanin levels have many benefits for people with naturally darker skin, having more melanin has a few disadvantages. In “Brown Skin,” Dr Taylor says that having more melanin tends to make the skin of African-Americans and other people of colour more reactive. She writes: “That means almost any stimulus — a rash, scratch, pimple or inflammation — may trigger the production of excess melanin, resulting in dark marks or patches on the skin.”