African American Skin
Shades of You - African American
Q: How is African-American skin different from Caucasian skin?
Skin of color has more melanin than Caucasian skin, in varying degrees, depending upon the skin type and the individual. There are both benefits and risks associated with darker pigmented skin. Due to the higher amount of melanin, the skin may appear up to ten years younger than that of a Caucasian of the same age. Extra melanin also provides some added, although not fully adequate, protection for ultraviolet (UV) damage to the skin.
Q: Why is it that African-American skin scars so much easier?
There are special risk factors unique to ethnic skin, which have to do with the extra melanin, which can create various pigmentation disorders such as: hyperpigmentation, post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH), acne scarring, keloids, melasma and vitiligo.
Q: What are keloids?
Keloids are the excessive growth of thick, irregularly shaped and raised scarring on the skin. Unlike regular scars, keloids do not subside over time and often extend outside the wound site. Keloids also may be painful to the touch and itchy. Once we examine the keloid, we can create a personalized program that will include laser treatments.
Q: How should someone with darker skin, care for scars left behind from breakouts?
Apply Retinoids (like Retin-A, Differin and Tazorac) cream once a day to lighten dark marks from acne, which are called post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. These marks can be black, red or brown and can be just as disfiguring as acne. This hyperpigmentation is caused by excess production of melanin but is not specific to dark skin. However, it can be more pronounced in African-American skin and last for a greater period of time. Apply the cream consistently to see a gradual lightening of these marks. The InstituteM applies a compound treatment especially designed for our skin care protocol, which improves acne scars tremendously.
Q: What can be done to correct pimples and dark spots?
Many people believe brown skin is naturally tougher than lighter complexions. Not true! Skin of color is just as likely to be sensitive. Since many acne medications cause skin irritation, treatments for sensitive-skinned individuals MUST BE carefully chosen. Retinoids (like Retin-A, Differin and Tazorac) are considered a good choice for those with darker skin tones because they treat pigmentation problems while clearing breakouts.
Q: Is there anything that can be done about ingrown hairs?
YES! Ingrown hair is a very common skin condition. Ingrown hairs tend to be more common in areas with coarse hairs like: The bikini area in women; and the beard and neck area in men. I've found that individuals with thicker, coarser hair, such as African-Americans, the best treatments are microdermabrasion followed by a Retinol compound. TEND SKIN is also a wonderful at home care product.
Q: Are laser treatments and chemical peels safe for those with darker skin?
YES! There are special lasers for people with darker skin. I would never put a chemical (liquid) peel on dark skin!
Q: A lot of darker skinned people feel they don't need to wear sunscreen when exposed to the sun because they don't burn... How vital is sunscreen?
It is very important for people with skin of color to protect their skin from harmful ultraviolet radiation. Even though darker skin types may have a “built-in” SPF of between 8-13, depending upon the amount of pigment in the skin, that is still not enough to perfectly protect against the sun’s harmful rays.
Q: Are there products that people with darker skin should steer clear of?
YES! Stay away from: harsh acids, alcohol based and acne drying lotions, rough scrubs, and exfoliating sponges. Stay with moisturizing products.
Q: What are good products for darker skin?
African-American skin, like all skin types, have oily and dry skin. Obagi foaming and Obagi gentle are good cleansers for all skin types. Using clarifying cream by Ayer Medic (a lightweight moisturizer) that won’t clog your pores is perfect for oily skin. Enrichment cream also by Ayer Medic plus dangene's Serum is extremely hydrating for dry skin.
Q: Any skin care tips for darker skinned people?
Be very, very careful about treating ANY AND ALL brown spots of any kind as soon as possible. Never let a brown spot stay and you’ll never be covered with brown spots.