Does black skin need sun cream? Of course it does. Black skin may have a lower risk factor than white when it comes to skin cancer, it may seldom burn, but does that mean it's cancer-proof? I'm afraid not.
Every summer I am shocked, annoyed and generally miffed by the fact I still have to explain myself when I whip out the factor 25, and this summer is no different. According to Macmillan Cancer Relief, there are no figures for the number of black people in the UK with skin cancer, but everyone agrees it's increasingly common.
"Skin cancer is rising among the black population," says Natalie Forbes of Black Cancer Care (020-8961 4151). "We should all use sunscreen and put sunscreen on our children."
Ruby Hammer, of Ruby & Millie, is of Bangladeshi parentage and never goes out wearing anything less than factor 30. "Although dark skin has a higher tolerance of UV rays, it is still susceptible to cancer, wrinkles and premature ageing," she says. "And, as black skin does not burn, go red or peel, there are no warning signs of the damage being done."
There are other reasons for applying sun protection. "As well as uneven pigmentation, black skin is especially prone to hypopigmentation, where the skin is so severely damaged by the sun that it stops producing melanin altogether," says Sally Penford of the International Dermal Institute.
During winter, a moisturiser with an SPF of at least 15 is a good start, but in the summer and on holiday in the sun it's equally important to use proper sun creams. However, the most common type - mineral creams - aren't much good on black skin, because they leave a white or blue residue (or "leave me looking like a geisha", as one reader put it), due to the zinc or titanium they contain. Instead, go for clear or chemical sunscreens, such as Dermalogica's Waterproof Solar Spray (0800 591 8181 for stockists). It has an SPF of 25, and leaves your skin gorgeously smooth and shiny.