Do women with darker skin tones (skin of color) need special skin care products?

Apr 27, 2020 | Skin Care

This may be an unpopular opinion, but my goal is to always give you scientific facts (which are not based on opinion) and the fact is skin color is not a skin type! Side note, the term women of color is a popular Dermatology term that includes a wide range of skin tones from ebony to olive and does not refer to any particular ethnicity . 

None of the research indicates that skin color has anything to do with the skincare products you need. LET ME BE CLEAR: It’s not that darker skin tones don’t have some physiological differences from lighter skin tones ; it’s just that those differences don’t impact what products you should be using.  (we are not talking about cultural preferences or differences here) 

Skin is the body’s largest organ, and  everyone’s skin needs the same helpful ingredients to address issues like dry skin, clogged pores, signs of aging, sun damage from unprotected sun exposure, uneven skin tone, oily skin, sensitive skin, and so on.  What may be different are the social needs based on your culture or habits, not necessarily the tone of your skin. 

It is universally important, regardless of skin color, to avoid problematic, skin-aggravating ingredients such as denatured alcohol, menthol, peppermint, eucalyptus, lemon, lime, and natural or synthetic fragrances as well as scrubs and stiff-bristled cleansing brushes. Bad products and unhelpful ingredients don’t care what color your skin is!

What You Need to Know no Matter what your skin tone: 

Always use a gentle, water-soluble cleanser (avoid bar soaps; they are too drying, can clog pores and cause skin to look ashy and feel dry).

Always choose products that are appropriate for your skin type (i.e. gels and serums for oily or combination skin; creams and lotions for dry skin).

Always use a well-formulated sunscreen during the day- you need one every day, every season even if you don’t sit out in the sun. (The most typical cause of uneven skin tone for women of color and the appearance of signs of aging is sun damage).

Always use products loaded with state-of-the-art ingredients including antioxidants, skin-replenishing ingredients, and skin-restoring ingredients.

How is African-American Skin Unique?

Here is the thing: skin care is for every skin type. However, I treat a variety of skin tones in my Dermatology office. And I have found that there are some concerns that darker skin tones are more likely to experience. Those include ingrown hairs ( due to hair texture) , certain types of uneven skin tone, darkening of skin, and specific types of stubborn marks and raised flaws that stand out from our natural skin color. For instance, vitiligo is more pronounced on darker skin so is more distressing. These concerns may require special attention, but none of that changes the universal daily skincare need everyone has.  

Dark Skin and Sun Damage

Darker skin tones have an advantage over lighter skin because darker skin offers some protection against sun damage. Notice I said SOME protection.  However, sun damage still occurs. 

Sun damage is sun damage and it’s cumulatively destructive for everyone—it just may show up later if you are lucky enough to have brown skin (the darker the better this protection). 

My advice is to apply sunscreen 365 days a year, no matter the weather, not matter if you plan to be at a baseball game all day or just running errands in your car.  Studies show that damaging UVA rays even come through your windows. 

Having the best skin of your life truly starts with sunscreen. I promise you if you start now, you will be so happy you did! Believing darker skin will somehow protect your skin from visible damage is dangerous thinking. No matter what skin color you have, it can absolutely be damaged by the sun. 

If you want a recommendation on sunscreens that are great for darker skin tones (they don’t give you that pasty look) click HERE to set up a consultation. We will discuss all of your skin care needs including sunscreens!

Creator & CEO of Perfect Skin Code
Photo of Perfect Skin Code owner Kimberly Brown
Kimberly Brown

Perfect Skin Code was created by Kimberly Brown, a Physician Assistant in Dermatology, when she decided to create products for her patients who had trouble finding effective yet gentle skin care products.

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