No matter what your skin tone, it’s becoming increasingly important to look after our skin. Pollution, sun and lifestyle stressors are all daily aggressors to our already fragile complexions. And if your skin has more melanin, there are the added challenges of hyperpigmentation or eczema, to name just a few. With this in mind, we’ve rounded up some top tips for looking after black skin.
STUDY UP ON INGREDIENTS
Certain skincare ingredients are like gold for darker skin tones. Worried about discoloration or worsening hyperpigmentation? Look out for elements that can inhibit tyrosinase – the first step in melanin production. These include vitamin C, liquorice extract, niacinamide and alpha arbutin. Not only do they help to evenly distribute and regulate melanin in the skin, they also break down any clumps that may have just started to form and promote a more even complexion. A good starting point is Neostrata’s Illuminating Serum. Another winner? Try mandelic acid – a gentle alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) with a large molecular structure. “It works better on darker skin tones as it gives all the great benefits of AHAs without any irritation and with less chance of causing any post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation,” says Allies of Skin founder Nicolas Travis, recommending the brand’s Mandelic Pigmentation Corrector Serum.
BACK TO BASICS
With the wide myriad of products on the market, it can be hard to know where to spend your money. If there are three areas to focus on, the non-negotiables would be cleansers, serums, and sunscreen. Think of serums as the undercover operatives working tirelessly to combat pigmentation, maintain firmness and elasticity, and above all, fight pollution. Extras like toners, essences, and masks may feel good on the skin’s surface but hold no real long-term benefit.
EXFOLIATE IN STAGES
There is a growing trend toward baby smooth, glass-like skin. Sadly this is way too aggressive for dark skin and could cause pigmentation and inflammation. Instead, layer your exfoliation throughout your skincare routine – start with a gentle cleanser like Glytone’s Mild Gel Cleanser as recommended by dermatologist Dr. Tiffany Clay. This winning formula contains 4.7% glycolic acid buffered by conditioners and humectants ideal for even sensitive skin.
GET SPRING CLEANING
Carefully examine your skincare cabinet and throw away anything that no longer serves you. That miracle elixir you were gifted by a co-worker? If you haven’t used it in the past six months, chances are you never will. Just like you wouldn’t eat food that has passed its sell-by date, neither should you apply outdated skincare products to your face. As a general rule of thumb, look on the packaging for a symbol with a little tub showing either 6M or 12M – this is the number of months a product is safe to use after it has been opened. Go beyond this date and you risk breakouts and even infection.
HERITAGE MAY NOT BE THE BEST CHOICE
While traditional products like black soap, shea, and cocoa butter are often hailed as miracle workers for black skin, this is not always true for everyone. If you are prone to acne or clogged pores, steer clear of these heavier formulations as they could leave your skin even drier and more congested in the long run. Look instead for hydrating serums containing peptides and ceramides for more lightweight moisturization.