Skin of Color- African Descent
In the hierarchy of skin sensitivity, skin color and tones from Fitzpatrick IV to Fitzpatrick VII, and of African ancestry; it has been my experience that it can be the second (2nd) most sensitive.
I believe that for many, they believed that the more pigment the skin possessed the stronger it was. You cannot detect redness as readily as with lighter skin colors and tones, which is a clear sign of inflammation; BUT, you CAN FEEL INFLAMMATION.
It’s okay, touch your skin, just be gentle and lay your clean hands over your cleansed and patted dry, skin in sections (please check back to learn how to self analyze your skin- youtube channel coming soon). If you feel warmth under your hands in an area, you may have some underlying inflammation that can lead to pigmentary changes (dark spots, uneven color and tone).
Youthful skin regardless of skin color; is even in tone and pigment, dewy and the texture is smooth all while reflecting light. When there is inflammation, the skin can be sensitized, discolored, shiny, ashy, rough and dull.
Because there is a higher sensitivity in African Descendants’ skin, being aware of ingredients that can increase inflammation is a key to your overall skin health.
Skin of Color Expert and Harvard Trained Dermatologist, Dr. Susan Taylor also states:
“It is important to avoid irritants that may stimulate the production of excessive melanin. Ingredients in soaps, cleansers, toners, moisturizers, astringents, anti-aging products, and anti-acne treatments are all possible irritants”
The following is a list of potential irritants to avoid:
- Cleansers, toners or astringents containing alcohol, propylene glycol, fragrance, or dyes
- Products containing essential oils (concentrated oil extracts from plants)
- Moisturizers containing fragrance, lanolin, dye, alcohol or propylene glycol
- Sunscreens containing fragrance, oil, PABA
- Makeup containing oil
- Alpha-hydroxy acid in high concentrations or at certain pHs
- Detergents and fabric softeners containing fragrance, dyes, or preservatives
Keep your skin care regimen simple and avoid ingredients that can make your skin more sensitive to sunlight during the day. Here are some basic tips to keep your skin in top shape, luminous even and bright in tone:
- Cleanse your skin gently and do not strip away valuable oils. When we wash with strong detergents (Sodium Lauryl/Laureth Sulfates, sulfates in general) we also wash away moisture, protection from acne causing bacteria, and our glow.
- Exfoliate GENTLY AND WITH CARE. I would prefer that you do this step in the evening, so as to not sensitize your skin to the sunlight. Try one of the new types of cleansers that combine gentle exfoliating powders and cleansers, 2 of my faves are Hale & Hush and Dermalogica’s Daily Microfoliant. These new cleansers are great as they are gentle enough to use daily, prep the skin for deeper hydration, and penetration of active ingredients and are GREAT time savers. Both are gentle for skin of color and are both recommended as part of a skin brightening regimen by their respective founders, Kris Campell and Jane Wurwand.
- TREAT– for dehydration/sensitivity use a moisture attracting and binding serum. Make sure it has Hyaluronic Acid, as this ingredient has SUPER DUPER attraction and binding abilities- up to 1000 times its own weight! For Acne– look for Kojic Acid as an ingredient as it packs a double punch- correcting dark spots and scars and is highly anti- microbial – so it kills that pesky acne bacteria. Topical Vitamin C, E and D serums or combo serums, should be used daily every AM prior to brighten and protect, BUT to ALSO ENHANCE YOUR SPF.
- HYDRATE- ALL SKIN TYPES NEED MOISTURE- ALL SKIN TYPES NEED MOISTURE. Find a texture you like and use it.
- SPF! SPF! SPF!– If the sun comes up, WEAR SPF, if the sun does NOT come up, we have bigger things to worry about…
These are just a few tips, please feel free to comment, ask questions and share.