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Variation d'application en fonction types de peau.

Does the application of sunscreen vary depending on skin tone?

Dark, light, or tan skin... we tend to think that people of color are more resistant to UV rays than those with light skin, thus altering behaviors towards UV exposure. But should we really adjust it according to our skin tone?

Phototypes: Changes in the Application of Sunscreen?

Although the incidence of skin cancers is lower in patients with dark skin, accounting for about 2% of all neoplasms, compared to individuals with light phototypes who represent about 40%, morbidity and mortality rates are higher in people of color. Indeed, for people of color, skin cancer is often diagnosed at an advanced stage and with a less favorable prognosis.

The average Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of black skin is 13.4, compared to that of white skin, which is 3.4.

A random-dial telephone survey was conducted among American adolescents aged 11 to 18 and their parents during the summers of 1998 and 2004 (response rate: n = 1,187 in 1998 and n = 1,931 in 2004) to gain insight into attitudes, behaviors, beliefs, and sunburns related to UV exposure in a representative population. The results showed that there was a significant difference between light-skinned subjects and those with medium to dark phototypes in their knowledge of cancer risks due to UV rays and the importance of photoprotection, including sunscreen. However, the cosmetic aspect of tanning was significantly less desirable for people with medium or dark skin than for those with white skin.

Similarly, a cross-sectional study involving patients with dark phototypes (n = 55) visiting a primary care clinic for dermatological issues revealed that 74% of those surveyed had never used sunscreen. Furthermore, the majority of those surveyed (62% of sunscreen users and 73% of non-users) were unaware that individuals with dark complexions could contract skin cancer.

At present, no study has evaluated the risk reduction of sunscreen use and skin cancer in people of color (of African, Asian, Latino, Middle Eastern, Native American, Mediterranean descent). However, it is necessary to quantify this. Therefore, more data is needed to understand the risk reduction provided by sunscreens, beyond just sunburns, for people of color.

Recommendation : It's a fact: even if you have dark skin, you can develop skin cancer. However, people of color tend to underestimate the harmful effects of UV rays from the sun and underuse sun protection. The public is generally less aware of the risk of skin cancer in people of color. Therefore, regardless of your skin color, always remember to apply a sunscreen with a sufficient protection factor when outdoors and reapply if necessary.


  • MARLOWE E. & al. Commentary on ‘UVB-SPF’: the SPF labels of sunscreen products convey more than just UVB protection. Photodermatology, Photoimmunology & Photomedicine (2008).

  • WARD E. & al. Sunburns, Sun protection and indoor tanning behaviors, and attitudes regarding sun protection benefits and tan appeal among parents of U.S. adolescents—1998 compared to 2004. Pediatric Dermatology (2010).


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