Everyone’s skin is different and requires a skincare routine tailored to their needs. Black skin, for example, contains more melanin than lighter skin. Melanin-producing cells are vulnerable to inflammation and injury. These blemishes are a lot more noticeable in dark skin than in fair skin. The American Academy of Dermatology reports that different skincare routines benefit different skin colors because of skin structure and function differences. Some common conditions that people with black skin experience include:
- Acne (pimples, whiteheads, and blackheads)
- Changes in pigmentation (discoloration)
- Contact dermatitis (caused by an irritant or allergen)
- Eczema (itchy, dry, and cracked skin)
- Seborrheic dermatitis (scaly patches on the scalp and face)
Here are a few tips to help you maintain your beautiful melanin.
Cleanse and moisturize
If you want to keep your skin bright and radiant, it is best to cleanse and moisturize your skin every day. You will notice a big difference when you do it right after showering. Look for products that are “non-comedogenic” or do not clog pores. Moisturizers with humectants like glycerin or hyaluronic acid can help retain moisture in the skin. Avoid those that contain fragrance since it can irritate. When exfoliating, choose chemical-based exfoliants rather than physical ones.
Wear sunscreen every day
Those with melanin-rich skin believe that they do not need to use sunscreen. The truth is everyone should use proper sun protection. While black people are less likely to get skin cancer from sun exposure, they are more likely to die for the condition if it develops. It can also be hard to notice and diagnose in darker skin. Protect your skin by using an SPF of at least 30 all year round.
Ingredients that Target Hyperpigmentation
Hyperpigmentation, an area of the skin that develops discoloration, can affect people with any skin tone. While sunscreen can prevent new hyperpigmentation marks from developing, it will not eliminate any existing dark spots. Though, it can prevent the marks from getting darker. Luckily, there are specialized products on the market that target dark marks to reduce their appearance. These typically include ingredients including:
- Retinoids: Over-the-counter topical Differin and prescription-based products like tretinoin improve the appearance of skin tone.
- Hydroquinone: An ingredient that can help stop the production of excess melanin, which causes dark marks.
- Kojic acid: Lightens skin to reduce dark spots.
- Vitamin C: An antioxidant, can reduce hyperpigmentation and protect against sun damage. It also increases collagen levels.
These products, especially those with hydroquinone and kojic acid, should be used with caution because overuse could irritate the skin. With hydroquinone, you should take a break after three months of use. When you use hydroquinone for an extended period, it can darken the skin. Speak to your dermatologist for recommendations.
One of the best ways to reduce hyperpigmentation is to treat acne as soon as it appears. It may also prevent dark spots on the skin, leading to a condition called post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. Establishing a gentle daily skincare routine can help stop acne. You should also avoid irritants, especially scented laundry detergent and skin products with a lot of fragrance.
Eat a balanced diet
Healthy skin starts on the inside by giving the skin the nutrients it needs to repair itself. Try to eat a healthful diet full of:
- fruits and vegetables
- whole grains
- lean protein sources
- healthy fats (nuts, avocado, and olive oil)
It would help if you also avoided or cut back on processed and sugar-filled foods. While it may be hard for some, limiting how much alcohol you drink may also improve skin health. If you have a skin condition like acne or eczema, talk to your dermatologist to determine if any foods may make symptoms worse.
By establishing a good skincare routine, you can help keep your melanin-rich skin supple and clear. A gentle daily routine and a healthy diet can help people with black skin. Aim to avoid using products that contain harsh chemicals and fragrances and focus on ingredients that target specific skin issues, like acne and dark marks. Of course, the best way to prevent the formation and worsen of dark spots and more severe health concerns like skin cancer, you should use sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher every day.