Dark Skin Does Sunburn (My Trip to Cancun)

I spent four days in Cancun over this past weekend. All went well; I had a great time, drank a lot, ate a little, relaxed a bit, partied some and took a lot of pictures. Unfortunately, the love affair I have had with the sun for the past 30 years has finally come to an end. An unhappy end that resulted in sun poisoning and sunburn. 

I have never worn sunscreen. I was (foolishly) under the impression I didn’t really need to. I’ve gone this long without sunburn, so I figured I must be naturally well protected. Wrong. So, so wrong. What started (and finished) out as a really great time, has turned into a huge and scary annoyance. The really strange part is that I didn’t feel any signs of the sun poisoning (click the link to find out what exactly it is) or the sunburn I got as a result, until I left Mexico. I was on the plane when I started itching and feeling welts on my neck. It wasn’t until this morning that I saw my forehead, and felt the rough (leathery?) skin the sun damage created on it. 

This is all new to me, so forgive me if I sound overly dramatic! So here are a few of some of my favorite photos from Cancun, and the result of that fun after (taken with iPhone 5S and 6):

Day 1
Day 2
Day 2- I got the tan lines seen below from this
bikini which leads me to believe this is
when it happened/started
Day 3- I spent a ton of time in the sun


on this day

Day 4- Oblivious and mimosa-ing
Day 4- Obviously much darker, and still oblivious
Day 4- Still no signs or irritation

I knew something was wrong on the flight back. My neck and collarbone were itching quite badly and I felt like I had welts. I just thought something either bit me, or I was having a reaction to the detergent I washed my cardigan in. But when I got off the plane and went to the bathroom, I inspected myself and didn’t see anything. 

When I woke up this morning, I knew something was wrong. My forehead was very dark and leather-feeling to the touch in that one spot near my hairline. You may be able to see the bumps there in the photos below; that’s where it felt rough. After work today, my shoulders started itching again. By the time I got home, I had either hives or the itchies pretty much everywhere I had a tan: my shoulders, upper back, and even my chest. This, my friends, is sun poisoning. 

The Mayo Clinic on sun poisoning

WebMD on sun poisoning 

eMedicine Health on sun poisoning

Today- Sun poisoning πŸ™

More photos of sun poisoning

The sunburn feels different than my itchy sun-poisoned skin. It doesn’t itch at all and feels like it’s hot. It’s not painful, but it feels strange, like there has been some trauma there. It wasn’t until I took my hair down that I saw the extent of the damage. 

Today- Sunburn! You can see the color 


difference on my hairline. 

Different angle of the sunburn/hairline

The irony of all of this, is the day before my trip, I was speaking to my friend who thought he had sun poisoning because he had been painting in the sun with his shirt off. I had no idea what sun poisoning was (never even heard of it) and asked him what the heck it was. I proceeded to brag about how I had never been sunburned and probably never would be… there’s a moral to this story!!!!!!!!!

Please heed these warnings! Just because you’re black or brown or dark does not mean it can’t happen to you! As far as treating it? Aloe Vera, stay out of the sun, sunblock (for the love of god, sunblock!) and don’t brag about how it can never happen to you!

Keep my foolish heart in your thoughts.




  1. Traci
    July 31, 2022 / 5:54 am

    This story helped me so much my shoulder and back looks exactly like the pictures after 4 days in the Bahamas.

  2. Sol
    July 22, 2022 / 9:49 am

    All went well; I had a great time, drank a lot, ate a little, relaxed a bit, partied some and took a lot of pictures.

    Alcohol can cause sun sensitivity. It’s all that drinking you posted about that played a roll in your skin situation.

  3. CocoEuro
    July 23, 2021 / 1:42 am

    Yeah….I just came back from JA with an itchy rash on my tanned areas 😫

  4. Anonymous
    April 25, 2016 / 8:45 pm

    Currently sat here dealing with some skin irritation from my holiday in Jamaica! 6 weeks later, my skin still hasn't settled, BUT I didn't blister, nor did I peel that much. I tanned, yes, but that's all I can see! No visible rashes either. Never in my life have I ever endured this and from now on SUNBLOCK SUNBLOCK SUNBLOCK!!

    • Bella Noir Beauty
      April 30, 2016 / 3:42 pm

      I hope you get better soon! For me, this went on for weeks as well. I just returned from Jamaica myself and I was so much better protected, knowledgeable and definitely wore sunblock and hats!

  5. Dream Big Abroad
    June 3, 2015 / 12:07 pm

    Shared! Thank you for the reminder!

    • Bella Noir Beauty
      June 3, 2015 / 4:47 pm

      No problem! Thanks for sharing.

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