Skin color is determined by the amount of a pigment called melanin, which is produced by melanocytes, special cells in the skin. Those with very dark skin have the highest levels of melanin, while those with very fair skin have the smallest amount. In rare cases, melanin is completely absent, resulting in a condition known as albinism. The best tips for protecting very fair skin include keeping it safe from the sun and monitoring it for signs of skin cancer.
Very fair skin is extremely susceptible to damage from the sun’s ultraviolet rays. When ultraviolet rays hit the skin, the malanocytes react by producing more melanin, which creates a sun-tanned appearance and protects the skin from the brunt of damage. Those with little to no melanin do not have that added protection, so rather than tanning, their skin cells react to the damaging rays, which causes the redness and inflammation associated with sunburn.
Protecting very fair skin against sunburn helps prevent further damage from occurring, such as skin cancer, age spots, and wrinkles. Sunscreen with a sun protection factor of 30 or higher should be worn when spending any amount of time outdoors, even during the winter months. Sunscreen should be applied thirty minutes before leaving the house, and reapplied frequently throughout the day. The skin on the face is typically more sensitive than that on the rest of the body, so a moisturizing cream or liquid foundation that contains sunscreen can be used on that area.
In addition to the sunscreen, wearing protective clothing can help prevent sun damage. Wide-brimmed hats provide protection and shade to the face and neck area. During the summer, lightweight bathing suit covers can help reduce sun damage to those spending time on the beach or next to the pool. Individuals with very fair skin typically have light-colored eyes, which are also susceptible to damage, and wearing sunglasses can help prevent that kind of damage. The tops of the feet are also prone to sunburn, so wearing socks and shoes or sandals that are closed across the top is helpful.
Even with the best protection, very fair skin is still susceptible to skin cancer. Routine self-checks are important because, when caught early, most types of skin cancer are easily treated. Performing a complete skin check requires checking all surfaces of the skin, even including the skin between the buttocks and around the genitals. Moles and marks that are not symmetrical, those with an uneven border, those that consist of several different shades, or those that suddenly change should be checked by a medical professional.