While we all have issues with our skin, skincare is definitely not one-size-fits-all. Caring for skin of color can be uniquely challenging. Those who have more melanin, or pigment, in their skin are more prone to experiencing hyperpigmentation when inflammation attacks the skin, and inflammation can come in many forms.
Which is to say that caring for skin of color requires some extra attention. Here are a few things you should be paying attention to.
Treat hyperpigmentation proactively
As I mentioned above, skin of color can be very sensitive. A number of things, from certain ingredients in skincare products (more on those in a moment) to popping a run-of-the-mill pimple, can trigger inflammation. And when that happens, pigment cells are going to crank out more melanin, which can lead to hyperpigmentation.
To help with minor mottling, try using a mild exfoliating acid cleanser once a week to loosen up discolored cells from the surface of the skin. Then lightly run a gentle scrub with non-plastic, rounded beads over your skin to lift off the damaged cells that have been uprooted by the cleanser.
Also: UV rays can exacerbate discoloration in every type of skin tone, so make a habit out of applying a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 on a daily basis. Need even more incentive? The melanin in darker skin tones offers some protection from the sun’s cancer-causing rays, but not complete protection.
I know that sunscreens and skin of color have not had the best of relationships through the years. That white film that turned so many off to sunscreen was usually caused by mineral ingredients, like titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. But thanks to improvements in mineral sunscreen technology, the white film is a thing of the past.
Be mindful of potentially irritating ingredients
Back to those potentially irritating ingredients. If you’re thinking about using retinoids or benzoyl peroxide, talk with a board-certified dermatologist first. The frequency and the concentration need to be just right. If not, they can cause hyperpigmentation.
Boost hydration to avoid ashiness
Finally, moisturize, moisturize, moisturize. This goes for every skin tone, but it’s downright essential for darker skin, which can develop a dull, white cast, commonly known as ashiness, when it dries out. Black skin is particularly susceptible to ashiness because its surface layer is denser compared to that of white skin. Black skin also lacks natural ceramides, which makes it more prone to dryness.
To avoid dry skin, use gentle cleansers and apply moisturizer right after, while the skin is still slightly damp.