What is the Best Skincare Routine for Skin of Color?
We write a lot about how important it is to have a personalized skincare routine suited to your skin type, but did you know that you should also suit your skincare routine to your skin tone? Black skin care comes with its own set of rules to follow and skin care products to use to achieve a beautiful, youthful glow. Here we review some of the common skin care concerns in black skin and the best skin care products to complement your natural glow.
What Is Melanized Skin?
Although all skin except albino and vitiligo skin has melanin, the term “melanized skin” is often used to refer to dark brown or black skin. It is used in the same way that “Skin of Color” is used.
What is the Best Black Skin Care Routine?
As with any skin tone, the best black skin care routine all depends on your skin type. Oily skin types are more prone to clogged pores and need cleansers that contain salicylic acid to clear the pores. Dry skin types will benefit from barrier repair moisturizers, while uneven skin tones need skin lighteners to make dark spots match normal skin tone. Even skin tones do not need skin lightener products. Combination skin types may need different skin care routines seasonally.
The best way to find the best skin care routine for black skin is to know your Baumann Skin Type, which you can find out by taking our Skin Type Quiz.
What Is The Fitzpatrick Skin Type?
The Baumann Skin Type is used by dermatologists to customize a skincare routine for skin of color. The Fitzpatrick Skin Type is used to classify the color of your skin and how it reacts to UV light during sun exposure. Melanized skin types, referred to as skin of color, are classified as Fitzpatrick Skin Type 4-6. The Fitzpatrick Skin Typing System was described at Harvard to determine the proper dose of UV light to be used for psoriasis therapy. It was never intended to be used for skin care routine recommendations.
What Skin Problems Are More Common In Black Skin?
Black skin often has a unique set of skin concerns that are more common in skin of color, so finding a personalized skin care routine is essential.
Dark spots on the skin
Dark spots on the skin usually occur following inflammation or trauma (post-inflammatory pigmentation alteration, or PIPA) or as a result of pimples/acne or excessive scratching of the skin.
Skin lighteners can be used to correct dark spots on the skin, but should only be applied to the darker patches. For example, if the dark spot has been caused by a pimple, use a Q-tip or cotton swab to get the treatment exactly on the spot to prevent a halo effect (i.e. lighter skin around the dark spot). For larger patches it is safe to apply the skin care product with fingers, but try to stay only on the darker parts.
Dark Moles on the Face of African Americans
Black skin types are more likely to have dark moles on the face called dermatosis papulosa nigra- or DPN. There are no skin care products to treat these black moles on the face. See your dermatologist if you want to have these black moles on the face removed. After removal of DPN, use a skin lightening cream on the area to prevent PIPA.
Melasma in Black Skin
Melasma is a skin condition in which dark spots, also known as hyperpigmentation, appear on the skin. Hyperpigmentation tends to occur on the cheeks, nose, forehead and upper lip, but is also common on the back and arms.
Melasma is a common complaint in black skin and it is often the result of sun exposure, so it is essential to always wear a daily SPF - even if your skin doesn’t burn! (Actually - your skin burns but you do not see the redness because the melanin masks it- this is why you get accumulated sun damage and the skin begins to sag.)
Ingrown hairs can often also be the cause of dark spots on the skin. Pseudofolliculitis barbae, an irritation caused by shaving that results in ingrown hairs, is commonly seen in the underarms, bikini line, legs, beard, and even the scalp. You can prevent ingrown hairs by using a salicylic acid toner, or a body scrub which will gently exfoliate the skin and keep pores clear.
When darker skin is dry, it can appear ashy. This is because the build up of the stratum corneum (outer layer of the skin’s epidermis) hides the natural melanin pigment making it appear grey and dull. This is easily treatable with a scrub followed by a skin barrier cream.
The best scrub for ashy skin is Pidanti Smoothing Polish. This face and body scrub gently removes old skin cells, without stripping the skin of its natural moisture. The skin is left looking smooth and even-toned. This face and body scrub contains glycolic acid and salicylic acid to gently exfoliate and remove dead skin cells. Green tea extract - a natural antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties- soothes skin and reduces damage from sun exposure. This safe scrub is plastic-free so won’t harm the environment.
You can follow the scrub witha skin barrier cream like Zerafite Ultra Rich Body Cream which has been specially formulated for even the driest skin types. It contains argan oil, which is rich in hydrating and soothing fatty acids to provide long-lasting hydration. Ceramides found in the patented MLE technology protect the skin barrier. Grapeseed oil is an antioxidant that moisturizes and soothes and calms the skin to prevent inflammation and post inflammatory pigmentation.
As black skin ages, it tends to sag rather than wrinkle due to a loss of elastin. Elastin is a key component of the skin that allows it to ‘bounce back’ to its original position after it is stretched.
The main cause of sagging skin is sun damage. If you have black skin and don’t wear a daily sunscreen, you likely won’t notice the redness and other damage the sun causes as your skin tone will effectively hide it. This means that you get a little bit of sun damage every day that breaks down your skin's elastic tissue. Elastic tissue in the skin cannot be replaced once it is lost! Therefore- it is essential to protect the elastin you have with antioxidants such as Vitamin C and sunscreen.
It is essential to wear an SPF of at least 15 every day on sun-exposed areas (especially the face and hands) to prevent sagging, and keep the skin looking plump and youthful. In particular, look out for a tinted SPF that contains iron oxides, which have the additional benefit of protecting the skin from the blue light emitted from your cell phone and other electronic devices.
In addition, antioxidants such as vitamin C are a great way to prevent the damage caused to elastin through sun exposure. Vitamin C serums or creams also have the added benefit of keeping black skin looking youthful, radiant and fresh.
Black skin and darker skin types have the same size pores as white skin, but they can sometimes look larger owing to the lack of light reflection from melanin. Although melanin reflects some light, it mostly absorbs light, making the pores look larger.
The best way to treat large pores in black skin is with a salicylic acid cleanser, such as Nolio Salicylic Acid Cleanser. Nolio Salicylic Acid Cleanser is a low pH cleanser that can also be used for acne to clear the pores. Salicylic acid penetrates the oils on the skin deep into the hair follicle to clean out the pores, making them appear smaller.
The only difference between black skin and white skin is the amount of melanin present. However, this means that black skin types are more susceptible to uneven skin tone. If you have black skin, be sure to take the Baumann Skin Type Quiz to find out exactly what skin type you have and get the best skin care advice for black skin, along with a personalized skin care routine.