Millions die each year in result of the leading cause for skin cancer, which is high exposures to UV (radiation) from the sun. Now that it's that time of year to sit outside and soak in the sun, it's also the perfect timing to ensure you're doing what's best for protecting your skin. Often, people of color assume that their darker tones protect them from heat damage that subsequently leads to diseases. There is no denying—regardless of your shade, you should be protecting your skin from the sun. Always. Due to this misconception, there is a high death rate from melanoma, a dangerous skin cancer, especially amongst African-Americans. Grabbing sunscreen with the highest SPF might work for some—like white people—but not for all. Here are three suggestions on how to use sunscreen and protect your skin if you are NOT white: 

1. First and foremost: buy the right sunscreen for you.

It's often assumed that the higher the SPF, the more protection your skin receives. However, that isn't necessarily true. “Hypoallergenic formulations have more costly ingredients, microparticle zinc oxide is more expensive but it vanishes into the skin much better and there may be added ingredients such as the antioxidants, etc,” says Dr. McDaniel. The following are three sun screen options that are great for darker skin complexions, as suggested by Anita Bhagwandas.

These three sun screen options (in order) are: La Roche Posay Anthelios Face Extra Light Fluid 50+, Ultra Sun Face 50+, Anti-ageing Ultra Sensative Facial Sun Cream and Sensai Silky Bronze Cellular Protective Stick SPF30—all three of which are under $60.  

La Roche Posay Anthelios Face Extra Light Fluid 50+, $33.50,

Ask any dermatologist and chances are they will recommend this brand for its vigorous testing and clinical studies. Whilst this SPF is a tad on the oily side (not hugely though, don’t panic), it gives you high protection against UVA and UVB.

Ultra Sun Face 50+, Anti-aging Ultra Sensitive Facial Sun Cream, $39,
On a recent trip to Australia, this was my first choice. It is water-resistant, long-wearing (about eight hours) and contains a host of anti-ageing benefits. Ideal for extreme sun exposure and sensitive skin.

Sensai Silky Bronze Cellular Protective Stick SPF30, $60,
It is a little bit on the pricey side, but this stick is probably the most invisible SPF I’ve ever seen. The velvety formula uses silk extract to promote the formation of skin-plumping hyaluronic acid, and it contains polymers to blur pores and fill fine lines.

2. Regardless of your complexion, develop an appropriate skin care routine that is right for you.

Buying yourself the right sunscreen isn't just the only step to protecting your skin as a person of color. It's just as important for you to develop a skin-care routine that is true to your skin type. Make sure you develop a skin care routine by finding products right for you that complete these five following goals, according to Paula Begoun, the skincare guru behind Paula's Choice

  • Find a gentle, water-soluble cleanser that is appropriate for your skin type 
  • Find an effective exfoliation to deep cleanse your skin while improving its texture and tone
  • Always moisturize, moisturize, moisturize!
  • Use a daily sun protection that is rated SPF 25 or more
  • Find an appropriate treatment for skin blemishes, discolorations, dry skin or oily skin

3. Talk to a dermatologist. 

Before you spend all of your money on sun protective skin products is to sit down with a dermatologist that can help you understand the type of skin you have and what it needs most. Be sure to ask as many questions as possible, such as: how can I prevent skin cancer for my skin tone? What is the best sunscreen for my skin tone? Use your time with your dermatologist to discover what type of skin you have (oily, dry) and what products and natural remedies will protect your skin the best. 

Once you've discovered the best method for you, happy tanning!