Boots apologises after being accused of calling white skin 'normal' on sun care chart

Some people aren't happy about Boots sun care advice chart [Photo: Spencer Selover via Pexels]
Some people aren’t happy about Boots sun care advice hart [Photo: Spencer Selover via Pexels]

There’s no doubt that sun care can be confusing. Which number SPF should you use? How often should you reapply? Which sun cream should I use for my skin type? Are just a few of the conundrums summer throws up.

Thankfully, British pharmacy Boots have come up with a handy guide to help shoppers pick out the best sun cream for their skin type. So far, so helpful. Except, some consumers have been left offended by the company’s choice of words.

The chart lists various different types of skin starting off with ‘sensitive’ skin, for which they recommend a minimum of SPF 30, next comes ‘fair’, for which SPF 50 is suggested. Further down the chart is ‘olive’, then ‘brown’ and finally ‘black.’ But in between, Boots has listed the skin type ‘normal’ and that’s what has people riled, not to mention confused.

Firstly, what exactly would you describe as a ‘normal’ skin type? And secondly, does that mean all the other skin types listed in the chart are ‘abnormal’?

Unsurprisingly people have taken to social media to let their feelings be known about the chart.

“yo @BootsUK, just wondering what constitutes as a ‘normal’ skin colour and why brown and black is implied to be abnormal? lmk!! :)),” one woman tweeted.

“they got skim [sic] type and skin colour completely messed up and showed their racism,” added another tweeter.

“This is honestly one of the most disgraceful and ridiculous things I have ever seen!” another disgruntled user wrote.

[Photos: Twitter]
[Photos: Twitter]

Some people were also concerned that the advice the company was offering wasn’t actually appropriate for people with darker skin.

“Also skin cancer effects brown/black people so using 10spf – 15spf actually isn’t enough. Are they actually ok,” one Twitter user wrote.

People who have dark skin tones often believe they’re not at risk for skin cancer, but that is a dangerous misconception, says dermatologist Maritza I. Perez, MD, a senior vice president of The Skin Cancer Foundation.

“Anyone can get skin cancer, regardless of race,” she says. While incidence of melanoma is higher in the Caucasian population, a July 2016 study in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology showed it is more deadly in people of colour.

It is fair to say that the extra pigment in darker skin does offer some added protection against the sun’s harmful UV rays and that darker skin is, therefore, less susceptible to sunburn. Darker black skin has a natural SPF of around 13.

But according to Cancer Research UK this should not lull people with darker skin into a false sense of security because people with darker skin can still develop skin cancers, especially types not related to UV, for example on non-pigmented parts of the body like the soles of the feet.

And for that reason most health experts recommend people with darker or black skin use a suncream with at least a SPF of 15.

UPDATE: Following the criticism the chart received Boots has since issued an apology.

A Boots spokesperson told HuffPost UK: “We’d like to thank our customers for bringing this isolated incident to our attention.”

“We can confirm the content featured was not official Boots show material and we have removed the chart immediately,” they continued.

“We apologise for any offence this has caused.”

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