British Asians and Sun Protection

Why are British Asians notoriously bad when it comes to sun protection? DESIblitz reviews some of the best protection products for Asian skin tones.

UV damage is the biggest cause of premature ageing and skin cancer.

Summer is always a welcomed season of the year, despite how slowly it may arrive! We swap those jumpers, beanie hats and cinnamon lattes for our Ray bans and coconut water.

But as the sun comes out and the temperature rises, sun protection is often the last thing on our summer checklist.

DESIblitz hits the park on a warm day to find out about your views on sun protection. We reviewed the facts about sun exposure, the Asian love for skin lightning, and the best sun products on the market to keep your skin sun-damage free.

The smell of cut grass in the air and the melodious tinkle of the ice-cream van in the distance. It is the perfect day for DESIblitz to talk sun protection.

First, we approached a young fair skinned couple generously applying a high factor sun cream. We asked them on their thoughts on why they used sun protection. Pointing to a group of young teens, red from the sun, enjoying a game of football, they replied: “Because we don’t want to look like lobsters!”

SunburnWhat about the Asian attitude towards sun protection? Madiha, just one of the young Asian students we met at the park, told us: “I always buy a maximum SPF 50 cream to keep my skin fair and to stop my mum from saying I’ve caught a dirty tan.”

It seems that Asians do use skin cream, but for skin fairness over protection. Fairness and skin lightening has always been an issue for a lot of Asians.

The summer also sees the beginning of the UK Desi wedding season, with most weddings happening from May to September.

Aisha a young girl in the same group as Madiha told us that she used a sun lightening cream such as Nur 76 lightening cream, in advance of the wedding season, to make sure she looked fairer than the rest.

Skin lightning products are a multi-million pound global industry. Well-known brands such as Olay with its White Radiance range can be found widely in stores across Asia.

Even in Europe, Shisheido’s whitening range, available in high profile department stores such as Selfridges has even won awards for some of its products.

Whilst fair skin is much sought after for numerous dubious reasons, it is important to understand the long term damage that sun exposure can have on the skin.

Dr Manish Khanna, a Director of Dermatology says: “Your skin is like a daily diary that’s being kept from a very young age. It doesn’t forget — it keeps track. Every time we expose ourselves to the sun, changes to our skin occur. Over time these changes will alter how our skin looks and feels.”

“The fact is that the changes that we undergo as a result of photo-aging are preventable and are not the natural aging process. If our skin has not been exposed to UV radiation it ages differently.”

VichyCapital Soleil Mattifying face fluid spf 50Sun protection is a huge must, whoever you are. Bollywood Actress and beauty, Dia Mirza admits: ‘’I don’t even step outside without sunscreen. Right now I’m using Vichy Capital Soleil with SPF 50.”

As DESIblitz investigated further, we found that for others, skin that looks good, is a priority over fairness.

Rina, a young Asian professional, said: “When I go on holiday, I get a spray tan to hide stretch marks on the beach. Since I’m dark, I don’t really need to use sun cream.”

But this is a misunderstood myth. In speaking to a number of spray tan salon owners, we found that spray tans offer zero sun protection. Our quest for beauty remains key but the effects of sun exposure go beyond skin deep.

In an age when, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation, skin cancer represents approximately two to four percent of all cancers in Asians in UK, the dangers of going without protection, cannot be ignored:

“Damage to skin is caused by the sun’s ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays. UVA rays are long-wave solar waves that penetrate the skin more deeply,” says one health expert.

Sunless Tanner Palmer'sIt is the UVB rays that are the key cause in the development of skin cancers. This means that there is a definite risk to Asian skin.

If you like to fake tan, get the best of both worlds and ensure you choose an instant tanning product that also contains SPF protection.

Skin specialist Dr Anil Thombare advises: “The ideal range of SPF for the Indian skin tone is at least 15.”

SPF an acronym that we often see on sun protective creams and stands for Sun Protection Factor:

“SPFs measure how much time in the sun your skin can tolerate before burning: if your skin normally burns after fifteen minutes, an SPF 10 lotion will increase the time you can safely stay in the sun by ten times,” a health expert explains.

DESIblitz also loves Palmer’s Sunless Tanner & Instant Bronzer with SPF 15. Exfoliate well before you plan to apply your instant tanning product, paying extra attention to naturally drier areas such as elbows and knees.

Rimmel LondonAccording to tanning expert James Read, this will: “Help keep the colour even all over your body.”

For those limited for time, invest in an exfoliating mitt such as the St Tropez mitt that allows you to exfoliate as you cover. When you get back home, the Rimmel Sun Shimmer Instant Tan Eraser is a great product to remove traces of any fake tan.

Whether you love to tan or not, UV damage is the biggest cause of premature ageing and skin cancer. The secret of maintaining beautiful healthy skin therefore, is to constantly protect it from UV damage.

For bronzed goddesses, add protection to your tanning routine. For those using sun-cream to maintain fairness, have a good think about opting for a moisturiser with an SPF to your daily skincare regime.

Above all, don’t forget your skin is the most beautiful thing about you, so taking proper care of it is a must!

Minal is currently a brown/yellow toned East London resident with a strong Mancunian accent and a weakness for samosas. As a former part time model recently discovered that she has the perfect face for writing. Her motto is: 'Peace, Love and Curry.'