Friday, March 1, 2024

The Phrase ‘Black Don’t Crack’, Cracked

While the less than flattering phrase “black don’t crack” (describing how black skin ages slower than others) is fluently shared, not everyone can  scientifically explain the thought behind it.

But, in interview with Refinery 29, leading skin doctors have dished on the science behind the saying, and why – crudely put as it is – the phrase rings true.


Dr Jasmeet Baxi (of clinic Naturaskin) told Refinery that dark skin is thicker, meaning;

“…It contains more collagen. By having more collagen in the skin, in effect it can delay the visible signs of ageing.”

In fact darker skin is made up of more eumelanin specifically – a type of melanin that is more resistant to UV rays than the melanin found in fairer skin, pheomelanin.


Dr Askari Townshend (of Askinology) explained to Refinery the significance of the amount of melanin in one’s skin, saying it;

“…Offers natural sun protection […] that in turn changes the way that UV radiation damages us.

There actually is truth to that whole thing about black don’t crack because that person is walking around with a natural SPF for their entire lives.”

Of course, while both doctors agree there’s truth in the phrase and that effects of the sun may appear later for black men and women, the professionals point out that actually, it’s more the ‘hue’ than heritage that dictates the ageing process, with darker complexions containing more eumelanin.


And there’s even an ‘official scale’ to compare your skin tone against – the Fitzpatrick Scale – which categorises skin colour from Skin Type 1 to Skin Type 6 (1 reflecting porcelain complexions and 6 comparable to deeply-hued skin like the beautiful Lupita Nyong’o’s).

It’s this consideration of skin and its level of natural protection from the sun that explains how members of the same family can age at different rates, even when using the same skincare regime and exposing themselves to the same conditions (pollution, diet and stress) – Dr Baxi telling Refinery;

“The SPF of very dark skin may be naturally as high as 13.4, compared to three or four, or even less for Caucasian skin.”


As we step closer to Summer, the article is well worth a read – especially if you plan to spend much of your months styling it up under the sun.

But what do you think of the phrase and how regularly do you apply an SPF? Tell us your thoughts on the “black don’t crack” saying and which SPF you swear by, in the comments box below or online @SPICETVAFRICA.

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