by Tiffani Greenaway of MyMommyVents.com

As women of color, we’re blessed with a very special gift: Not only do we radiate #BlackGirlMagic, but our melanin is the stuff dreams are made of.

Whether it’s ebony, mocha, french vanilla, butter pecan, chocolate, caramel or any shade in between, our rich, royal skin has women running to tanning beds and worshiping the sun, trying to get the hues we were born with.

But just because we’re cocoa-colored visions doesn’t mean that we don’t have to protect our skin.

Although African-Americans don’t get sunburned as easily as fair-skinned folks, we’re still at risk for skin cancer. The main cause of skin cancer is exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun, and according to the National Cancer Institute, over one million people are diagnosed a year.

University of Cincinnati researchers discovered that when melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer, is discovered in African Americans, Latinos and Asians, it’s usually fatal because we weren’t using sunscreen or we waited too long to see a doctor about our concerns.

When the summer sun is out, follow these three tips to keep your melanin poppin’.

1. Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen.
Apply sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 every day. Many of our favorite moisturizers from brands for brown skin, like Ambi and Iman, include SPF.

Marcia Williams, naturopath and creator of GlobalSun, the first sunscreen specially formulated for people of color, says: “I want people of color to understand how important it is to use sunscreen. And it’s not just for the beach; it’s for construction workers or playing golf … any time you’re out in the sun.”

2. Be aware of your risk, and check for new and changing moles and discolorations.
“Whenever I heard the word, my mind would automatically think: ‘Caucasian,’ ’’ says Betty Jordan, who was diagnosed with acral lentiginous melanoma (ALM), a rare, but aggressive form of skin cancer that strikes people of color. (Bob Marley died of ALM in 1981.) “It was something I never worried about.’’

Check your nails and palms, and the soles of your feet frequently. Examine your entire body from head to toe every month, and if you find something, tell your doctor. “Your physician shouldn’t dismiss you just because you are black if you have any new or changing skin lesions on your body, especially nail changes,’’ says Georgetown University Medical Center surgeon and skin cancer specialist Maral Skelsey. You should also see your doctor or dermatologist annually for a professional skin exam.

3. Wear a wide brim hat and UV-blocking sunglasses.
Summer accessories can keep you cute and safe at the same time. A hat with a brim all the way around offers the most protection, according to the CDC, as it shades your face and ears, and the back of your neck.

Sunglasses protect your eyes from UV rays and reduce the risk of cataracts. They also protect the skin around your eyes from sun exposure (and wrinkles!). Throw on a pair, but make sure they block UVA and UVB rays; a sticker on the lenses should say whether the sunglasses do this.

Glow on, girls!

What’s your favorite sunscreen? What’s your favorite moisturizer?
CN Says:
I use Cetaphil’s Daily Moisturizer with SPF 15 just about every single day. At night, I apply Cerave Moisturizing Cream. I have naturally dry skin (especially around my mouth and chin) and this keeps it soft and supple!

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Tiffani Greenway is the wife and mom behind MyMommyVents, a New York city parenting blog. Her tips have been seen on Yahoo Parenting, Mommy Noire, and Fit Pregnancy. Find more of Tiffani’s work at mymommyvents.com.
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