Black skincare and the winter

(Courtesy of Hawa Karega)

Even though there are fewer hours of sunlight during the winter, the vast snow covering the streets makes sure that we remain at risk of overexposure. The pure white shiny surface is reflective, blocking the UV rays from being absorbed by the earth and redirecting them straight back into the atmosphere through reflection. 

Winter can translate to staying indoors the majority of the time. This means less interaction with authentic sunlight, and therefore, less chances for your skin to convert the UV light rays into melanin. 

For the majority of Black folk, this leads to loss of pigmentation during the season, resulting in us getting a few shades lighter.

To gain a better perspective of Black skin care, three York individuals are sharing their general winter skin care routine and their relationship with their skin. The conversations delve into whether their skin care routines do change in the winter and what their relationship with sunscreen is. 

Unsurprisingly, none of them wore sunscreen during the winter. In fact, they each wondered why it would be necessary, only considering it during the summer.

Sunscreen is generally believed to be for long, direct sunlight exposure activities such as a midday hike or trip to the beach. Add to that the misleading stereotype that ‘Black skin doesn’t need sunscreen’ and we continue to damage our beautiful, bronzed skin. 

I’m sorry to burst your bubble, but all humans — despite our skin colour — are susceptible to skin damage, including, and not limited to wrinkles, sun spots, cancer, etc. And with holes in the ozone now, precautions on radiation related skin damage need to be taken in all ways possible.

From the interviews, it is evident that despite people having knowledge on skincare, the real issue lies in it not being prioritised. “I care about my skin, I take care of it, but it’s not my number one priority,” admits Stephen Dulacha, an accounting student. These differences were shown through the nuances of their individual routines such as how frequently they wash their face and the quality of products that they use. 

“During the winter I moisturize a lot more because it’s so cold,” Dulacha adds, however, when asked how their winter and summer routines differ.

Information technology student Kechi Emerole claims to use a scrub-free cleanser to gently cleanse their face, twice a day, among several other routines, but admits they haven’t been wearing sunscreen as of lately as a result of the winter month and the pandemic. 

On their skin getting paler in the winter, Emerole says that “being from Nigeria, it never really used to happen to me — then watching influencers and YouTubers talk about having two different shades of foundation just because of the change in weather, I was like ‘I really don’t have time to spend money on two different shades of foundation. 

“Then I realized it’s actually happening to me the more I stay in Canada — it’s actually really fascinating,” Emerole says. 

While Dulacha was indifferent about their skin tone lightning, the others couldn’t ignore it. “I feel quite sad about it,” confesses Jahzara Mulira, an environmental science student, about their skin getting a few shades lighter during the winter. “When the sun comes out I sit at my window and tan.” 

All in all, there was a unanimous opinion that every person should observe and respect their skin — doing what works for your skin rather than subjecting it to products or routines that it’s clearly rejecting in the name of what’s popular or trending.

We can no longer be ignorant of the importance of skincare and just rely on ‘Black don’t crack’ or any other racial myths to keep our skin looking healthy throughout our lifetimes. Sun protection and personalised routines even during the winter is a good place to start.

Let’s give our skin the treatment it deserves, even in the winter. 

About the Author

By Wanjiku Mbuthia


Interested in becoming a contributor? Check out our Get Involved Page


Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments