Four years ago, I moved job locations and into a new job role. My new position meant spending lots of time outdoors in the hot blazing sun. Not surprisingly, I have gotten progressively darker over time.

I did not realize how bad it was until I resumed wearing make-up this year (after a 5 year hiatus) and had to get powder/foundation that matched my skin color. In the past, I only wore a sheer pressed powder but this year I wanted to get creme foundation. I’ve done a comparison below.

Before and After

I know, right? Unbelievable.

Evidence number 2 of how much my complexion has changed is my older sister.

When we were kids, I was much lighter-complexioned than she was. She caught up a little when we were growing older but right now is shades lighter than I am. And no, folks, she uses no “lightening aids” – creams or pills. She does have a sedentary job that keeps her indoors plus she is so introverted these days that she spends most of her time indoors even when she is on vacation. But c’mmon! Shades lighter? I can’t even use her foundation because I am browner than she is.

Apart from being driven by vanity, I was also alarmed for my skin health. We all know that too much sun exposure is bad and may even lead to other complications, cancer included. Obviously I had had a lot of sun exposure.

So what’s a girl to do?

Well, I have started taking my sun protection very seriously. Where possible, I wear a hat and sunglasses when I go out in the sun. My floppy hat is a bargain $8 number from Walmart which I can fold and carry wherever I go. I love that I can fold it as I typically do not enter buildings wearing my hat or sunglasses. It is nice to know that I can fold the hat away and not worry about it getting out of shape.

The sunglasses not only add to my sun protection for my skin, but for my eyes as well – they keep me from squinting under the intensely bright sunshine. Suffering from myopia since childhood, I have a fair bit of lines around my eyes – a testament to all the squinting I did when I would inevitably misplace my glasses.

IMG_1202

See how well shaded the top of my face is? My head is turned up towards the light which is why the lower part of my face isn’t shaded. Anyhoo, this gives a fair bit of insight into how a simple hat can provide protection.

It is surprising that we are not a hat wearing country – I cannot imagine why – given the amount of sunshine we get here – so I have gotten a lot of questions (and flack) about wearing a hat. Ranging from  “Are you on going to the Caribbean?” To plain ol’ “Why are you wearing a hat?” I expected the questions and even the derisive comments I have been getting. I had Natural hair in this country before it was cool. I know that I can manage wearing a hat even though it is not popular. Another picture of me wearing my hat and shades here.

Concerned with the state of my skin, I decide that I had to up my topical aids. So, two weeks ago I also made myself a super moisturizing facial cream that is suitable for mature skin (meadaowfoam seed oil, rose hydrosol, rose essential oil e.t.c) and added Alpha Hydroxy Acids (lactic Acid, Citric Acid e.t.c) to a batch. I use the batch with A.H.A only at night.

Although I use it at night, the AHAs increase sun sensitivity which may lead to a sun burn so it is a happy coincidence that I am using it my hat and glasses. Naturally, I also use a full spectrum UVA and UVB protection Sunscreen.

I am not expecting any miracles nor am I going to lighten my skin…naturally or otherwise. This took years to happen so I know that I am going to have to give at least twice that time for full recovery, The important thing is that I have started today.

14 Comments

Wow!

Like most things in life too much sunlight is not good.
Nice write up.
A few questions, are you talking about only the complexion of your face or whole body?
If it’s the latter a quick look in the mirror in your birthday suit would have shown clear demarcations between hands, face and those areas society says we cover up.
Two, I notice your hat has holes in it or I’m wrong and it’s white patterning on black? If it’s holes, doesn’t that compromise protection from the sun’s harmful rays?
Third, hurrah for being light skinned and all but if you are still going to be spending a lot of time outside, you shouldn’t be thinking “recovery” but a healthy maintenance of your “new” complexion, it’s your body’s way of protecting you.

Reply
Natural Nigerian

My face is the most affected because it is the most exposed. My body has remained pretty much the same. To put it in perspective, we had a crisis sometime ago and my colleague had to spend 4 days outside trying to resolve it. She wore short sleeved T-shirts for the entire duration. On the fifth day, she had a clearly defined line where her sleeves ended. Her arms from that line downwards were clearly darker than the rest of her arms.

Yeah, the holes were a trade-off so that I could have a fold-able and re-shapeable hat. Anything else, I would not have been able to carry around and that would have defeated the purpose. 80/20 rule.

It is in fact NOT my complexion. I have lightened considerably, such that even the guys I work with have noticed. Just from being a bit more prudent about my sun exposure. Naturally, I do not expect that I will go back to where I started from – I am pragmatic that way. :)

Glad you liked this post!

Reply
Emmanuella

Thanks for sharing this.

I try to wear my sunglasses and i do scarfs or hat sometimes, though i cant fold a fedora hats(that what i own) it will only lose shape.
will need to invest in something like yours.

Also, please can you include the ” super Moisturizing facial cream” in the Ahia, i have acne scar and i know this will definitely help.

Thank you.

Reply
Natural Nigerian

Yeah, a Fedora is tricky when you need a fold-able hat.

I have been asked about sharing this facial moisturizer before. I will definitely consider it a bit more. It won’t be cheap though :)

Thanks for your comment.

Reply
Nikkisho

It’s my first time seeing a picture of you! This happened to my friend after the holiday but it’s worse cos she has a lot of dark spots so her face is looking patchy. I will suggest the AHA you mentioned. :)

Reply
chikeebee

Aloe Vera gel is said to heal or reverse sun damage on the skin. The best type is the natural one, straight from the plant.
The way I use it is to apply the gel all over my face and neck after washing my face before bed time.
All the best

Reply
Kator

I’m so sorry but I’ll read the whole article later… NN! I love the photo! Yaaay! Looking beautiful as always! :D

Reply
Hadassah

I am not light complexioned, neither am I dark. When I noticed the line of dermacation, the first thing I thought was ‘melanoma’…yeah being and growing up in a medical family does things to your head, lol….and I knew I needed a sunscreen. The problem was I’m allergic to avobenzone or oxybenzone, breaking out in tiny red rashes. I tire for sensitive skin o! So I had to look for an alternative which is zinc oxide which can make me look ashy in pictures but did a fine job. Recently I discovered that my skin tolerates ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate (a sunscreen agent) so I use both and I’m the weird girl on the streets with an animal print umbrella when it isn’t raining…lol!
The demarcation has faded now.

I hope this helps someone with a similar prob.

Reply

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