The new black

It never ceases to amaze me that, while I have way more melanin than many of my friends, I'm often the only one slathering on the creams and refusing to go below a factor 15. Yes, black skin is more protected than white, but having learned the painful way that I, too, can burn, I've become almost Nicole Kidman-like in the protection of my skin.

I'm sick of the funny looks I get while applying my creams, not to mention the stupid comments when I'm buying them ("you won't be needing any of that" has to be up there with telling me I "must love this warm weather/really feel the cold"). But sometimes I wonder if I'm being over cautious, or sucked in by yet another beauty myth. Well, apparently not. "Melanin provides natural sun protection that can delay the appearance of visible signs of ageing and can result in a lower incidence of skin cancer," explains Boots skin care expert Wendy Lewis. However, "this does not mean that darker skin types don't need sun protection. The same rules apply for darker skin types as they do for English rose complexions - use a minimum of SPF15, preferably 20 or 30, and re-apply every two hours," says Lewis. Whatever colour you are, please read that last sentence again.

The main problem I have in picking a sun cream is finding one that doesn't bring the skin on my face out in hives. As you don't use the same moisturiser on your face as body, I'd recommend you do the same when it comes to sun creams. The more lightweight the cream, the less likely it is to aggravate your skin. As a rule, gels are the best for dark skins, as they rub in well, don't clog the pores and are much less greasy than traditional creams. The Sun Care Cream-Gel from Clarins, and the Gel Creme Solaire from L'Occitane are my favourites for the face. And the impressive range from Lancaster, with a great selection of gels and creams, most of which are oil free and absorb incredibly quickly, for the body. And finally, don't forget to wash the creams off at the end of the day to give your skin a chance to recover overnight.

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