Dr Ifeoma Ejikeme tells us what level of SPF we should be wearing, when we should be wearing it and how we should be applying it.

Yes, the sun is out, so it’s especially important that we are all following the rules when it comes to protecting our skin. For those at the back, who are yet to get the memo, that means applying suncream with a high factor SPF every single day.

Medical expert and skin specialist, Dr Ifeoma Ejikeme took time out of her busy schedule to discuss with Melan Magazine the importance of good skin care.

She told us: “All skin types, including Black skin, should wear the recommended factor 30 or above daily for a number of reasons. Whilst it’s true that melanin does give some degree of protection, the maximal protection it gives is well below the recommended factor 30.

“Skin cancer is still seen in Black skin, though at a lower rate than in Caucasian and when it does present, it tends to be diagnosed later.”

Aside from the health issues, Dr Ejikeme gives us another reason for applying suncream as well as protective clothing, daily.

She said: “The number one skin concern I see in my practice for Black skin is dark marks, melasma and uneven skin tone and with increasing age these concerns increase.  Judicious use of daily suncream prevents this.”

Dr Ejikeme dropped some further knowledge about all things SPF and suncream below. Read on for her answers to some of the most common questions on this topic.


Let’s go back to basics, why do we need suncream?

To protect our skin from UV rays, which cause premature ageing and can lead to cancers and DNA damage.


When should we be wearing it?

It should be applied to the face every day – 365 times a year, through all of the seasons’ rain or shine, inside or outside. For elsewhere on the body, it should be applied on exposed skin when outside.

SPF and Suncream

Why should we wear it every day?

There are three types of UV – UVA, UVB and UVC. UVA is prevalent every day of the year. You cannot feel it on your skin but if there is sunlight, UVA will be penetrating the skin. It does not matter if it’s a cold, winters day or a cloudy day, UVA will penetrate through – including through windows and car windscreens. UVB you can feel on the skin – it’s the burning we feel when we are out in the sunshine that causes sunburns, freckles and tans. UVC is blocked by clothes and clothing but on a very clear day, is still dangerous. It may surprise you that whilst UVB is what causes our sunburns, its level of skin penetration is far more superficial to UVA, which penetrates the skin deepest. Both, however, can cause skin cancers.

What level of protection do we need?

For an everyday face suncream, it should always be a factor 50. The reason for this is because people never apply suncreams properly so are never protected as highly as they believe. The prescribed amount of SPF in research papers is 2mg per cm squared. However, this is a lot more than people tend to use and so to increase the rate of protection, it is best to use the highest factor.

Black Skin Decoded
Dr Ifeoma Ejikeme

Can we still tan through a factor 50?

Yes. For people that would like to avoid tanning, use products with the strength +++, this will reduce the amount of melanin producing cells in the skin that lead to tanning.


When and how should we apply it?

SPF could be the last step in our skin routine before applying primer or foundation. In the morning, complete your usual skin routine first and apply the SPF last, after any cleanser, moisturiser, toner or serum. In the evening, ensure to cleanse the skin well to remove the SPF and any oils and dirt built up during the day.

Can we rely on make-up products and moisturisers for our SPF?

No. The SPF labelled on make-up and cosmetic products is always weakened by the other ingredients in the products. It is essential to use a separate SPF suncream before applying make-up. However, make-up products with SPF are a great top up.


What should we look for in a suncream?

Any suncream is better than no suncream. However, physical suncreams and mineral based chemical suncreams are preferred. To spot a physical suncream, look at the ingredients – they will often contain zinc and titanium as the active ingredients.

What products are best on the market?

For the face, opt for a light, non-oily, fast-drying suncream, as this will avoid clogging the pores (that can lead to breakouts) and also lays a good base for applying makeup. La Roche-Posay Anthelios Ultra-Light Invisible Fluid in Factor 50 is a great product for this. Other SPF favourites include: Obagi sunshield matte, Epionce SPF, Heliocare gel SPF and Banana Boat.

Visit Dr Ejikeme’s clinic: Adonia Medical Clinic.

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