It is true that Asians have a skin which has a strong natural shield against the sun and their age shows about a decade later than Caucasians — but they still need sunscreen, says a Bangladeshi dermatologist. Asserting that the cumulative effect of the damage wrought by the Sun’s UV rays takes away one’s youth — be it Asian or Caucasian, Zeenat Meraj (Shopna) underlined the need to debunk the myth that sunscreen is not a necessity for Asians. “In this part of the world, we lack the idea… even among the doctors who are not dermatologists… if you ask them they will say ‘what is the use of sunscreen, we have so much of melanin’.
“The notion is melanin (the pigment that gives human skin, hair, and eyes their dark colour) acts as a shield so we don’t need sunscreen but the cumulative effects of exposure to the sun damages the skin… it causes wrinkling, deeper lines … takes away your youth,” said Meraj at the Aesthetica Asia’ conference in Kolkata. She said Asians need to address this misconception.
“This is something which we don’t look into. Asians also need sunscreen and this is very important because that contributes to a lot of chronological ageing which is due to the extrinsic factor, not because of your genes,” Meraj said. The laser therapy specialist stressed that Asians show their age about a decade later than Caucasians due to the presence of substantial amount of pigmentation which protects them from the sun and delays signs of ageing. But there is a catch.
“We have more compact skin so we don’t have more of wrinkles and we have melanin content which protects us from the sun. Even then we need sunscreen. Though the melanin protects us from the sun we have a disadvantage. “Whenever we have a skin disease or trauma to the skin we tend to react with hypo- or hyper-pigmentation… with so much pigment cells in our face… whereas white people don’t because they have less melanin content,” Meraj said.