Everyone wants an even skin tone, free of light or dark spots. However, achieving one can be more challenging for people of color for one big reason: melanin.
Melanin is the substance in your body that produces pigmentation (or color) in your skin, eyes, and hair. The more melanin you produce, the darker your skin will be – so it’s no surprise that brown and Black skin contains more melanin than lighter skin.
Melanin-producing cells are also more susceptible to inflammation or injury, making skin conditions like vitiligo more noticeable for people with dark skin.
But all hope is not lost! The skin experts at The Derm are here to explain how to get an even skin tone for people of color, including how to properly care for brown or Black skin, what products help even your skin tone, and more.
Five skin care tips for people of color
Whether you already have flawless skin or want to improve your skin tone, it’s important to establish a healthy skin care routine. Follow these five tips for caring for brown or Black skin:
1) Clean and moisturize your skin every day
The best time to clean your skin is immediately after showering. Use a gentle cleanser that won’t clog your pores and massage it into your skin with clean fingertips. Rinse with warm water, then pat your skin dry with a clean towel.
Research shows that Black skin loses moisture faster than lighter skin. To prevent your skin from having an “ashy” appearance, use a daily moisturizer that contains humectants (such as hyaluronic acid or glycerin). Humectants help retain moisture in your skin.
Petroleum jelly (Vaseline) is another highly effective moisturizer, but use caution when applying it to your face. Be sure to avoid loofahs, abrasive scrubs, and moisturizers with fragrances, which can all irritate your skin.
2) Always wear sunscreen, even on cloudy days
One of the biggest myths about brown and Black skin is that it doesn’t burn – it does. Sun exposure can also cause dark spots or make existing dark spots even darker.
You should wear sunscreen every time you go outside, even on overcast Chicagoland winter days. The Derm recommends using sunscreen with 30 SPF or higher to protect against both types of ultraviolet rays (UVA and UVB).
3) Use products that reduce the appearance of existing dark spots
Wearing sunscreen helps prevent new dark spots from developing, but your dermatologist might also recommend treating existing dark spots with a product that contains:
• Retinoids – Retinoids are available over-the-counter (differin) or by prescription (tretinoin)
• Hydroquinone – Helps stop the production of excess melanin
• Kojic acid – A skin lightener that can reduce dark spots
• Vitamin C – Studies show that vitamin C may reduce dark spots, increase collagen levels, and protect against sun damage
4) Treat acne at the first sign
Treating acne promptly can help prevent the formation of dark spots, which is part of a condition called post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.
5) Eat a balanced diet
Healthy skin starts on the inside. To give your skin the nutrients it needs to repair itself, eat a diet rich in:
• Lean proteins (such as fish or chicken)
• Fruits and vegetables
• Whole grains
• Healthy fats (such as avocados or nuts)
Drinking alcohol and eating sugary or processed foods can worsen certain skin conditions. Ask your dermatologist if there are any foods you should avoid.
How does vitiligo affect skin tone for people of color?
Vitiligo is a skin condition that occurs when melanocytes (the cells responsible for your skin pigmentation) die off, causing lighter, milky-white patches to form on your skin.
Vitiligo usually starts in areas that are more exposed to the sun, such as your arms, legs, or face – however, it can appear on any part of your body. Vitiligo occurs with similar frequency in people of all races, but is often more noticeable on people with dark skin.
Because there is no cure for vitiligo, most treatments aim to slow its progression or improve the appearance of the patches. Treatment options include:
• Cosmetics or skin dyes to cover the patches
• Oral medications (such as oral steroids, methotrexate, or ciclosporin)
• Medicated creams (such as ruxolitinib)
If you have vitiligo, The Derm can help. Your dermatologist will explain the various treatment options, so you can decide which is best for you.
Is skin cancer more or less prevalent in people of color?
The signs of skin cancer tend to be less obvious on dark skin, so many do not realize they have it until after the cancer has progressed. The Derm recommends an annual skin cancer screening for all patients, but especially for people of color.
Want more answers about how to get an even skin tone for people of color? Just ask
If there’s something you don’t like about your skin, The Derm is here for you. Our expert team diagnoses and treats hundreds of skin diseases, including vitiligo, psoriasis, and many others that can affect your skin tone.
Working together, we can help you achieve the healthy, even skin tone you’ve always wanted. Schedule an appointment with The Derm today!