For the most part, McAllen, TX dermatologist Dr. Adeline Kikam’s review of Fenty Skin’s new skin-care line was largely positive. But of the three simple steps in Rhianna’s line, Dr. Kikam, who goes by the name @brownskinderm on Instagram, took issue with step three, the moisturizing sunscreen, especially for users with darker skin tones.
In particular, the skin-care expert says she is concerned with the type of sunscreen used in the formulation. The line’s Hydra Vizor Invisible Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 30 Sunscreen ($35) is a chemical sunscreen, which typically absorbs faster than mineral sunscreens, but can be irritating for sensitive skin.
There are pros and cons to using both types of sunscreens, but Dr. Kikam says she would have preferred for Rhianna to have chosen a physical sunblock, especially due to Fenty Beauty’s following and reputation as an all-inclusive brand.
“I was dismayed at the choice of type [of sunblock] given that a large part of Rihanna’s fanbase is people of color, especially black women,” wrote the dermatologist. “One of their top most aesthetic concern[s] is hyperpigmentation.” Noting that chemical sunscreens are associated with higher allergenicity and photo-irritation for people with sensitive skin, she also stated that irritation could worsen hyperpigmentation in those with darker skin tones.
“These filters absorb UVR into skin and dissipate it as heat, a risk factor for developing and worsening of hyperpigmentation. There is less risk of irritation with mineral sunscreens which tend to be highly stable, non-photoallergic and provide broad spectrum coverage not only against UVR but visible light as well (a risk factor for hyperpigmentation in darker skin types).”
Ironically, the brand origin story includes one of Rihanna’s own skin issues as a teen. When she was younger, the singer says she tried a product that discolored her skin, which scared her from trying anything else for a long time.
Birmingham, AL dermatologist Corey Hartman, MD agrees with Dr. Kikam and says the best choice of sunscreen for anyone, including women of color, is a broad-spectrum, mineral-based, physical sunscreen. “We know too much about effects from chemicals in sunscreen and are learning more each year. The high rates of allergenicity from the various chemicals make them difficult to use confidently without risking contact dermatitis which can lead to post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.,” he adds.
“Historically, physical sunscreens weren’t elegant enough to be used on darker skin tones and would leave a chalky, white iridescence, but there are many great products on the market now that can be used on virtually any skin tone without risk of a white cast. Not only are the physical sunscreens safer, but they are also more effective since they form a shield on the skin that reflects the UV rays and light in the visible spectrum.”
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