Busy schedule, sensitive skin, hormonal acne, dry patches, dark scarring. Any of these issues sound too familiar? Taking care of your skin can sometimes seem overwhelming. If you have a darker complexion, you might have to also take into consideration higher risks of scarring or severe dry skin. Are there products that work better for individuals with dark skin color? By starting with skin basics, and then choosing smart, more specific products with your skin type in mind, your daily approach to take care of your skin can become safe, effective, and easy to manage.
Every skin care regimen should include a safe and effective cleanser and moisturizer, especially those for darker complexions. If you have sensitive skin, try to look for the terms “hypoallergenic” and “fragrance-free.” Make sure to use lukewarm water to wash your face, avoiding scalding hot temperatures. The hotter the water, the more your skin will dry out. After cleansing your face, apply moisturizer. If you have dry, ashy skin, look for a thick moisturizing cream, such as Cerave or shea butter. Cerave moisturizing cream uses ceramide technology to keep skin hydrated throughout the day and is a great hypoallergenic option. Shea butter has excellent moisturizing properties and is commonly used on scars, stretch marks, and skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema. It also contains anti-inflammatory compounds and vitamins A and E. If you are acne prone, make sure the products are labelled with the term “noncomedogenic,” which means the products won’t clog pores and cause acne.
Individuals with darker complexions are also more prone to hyperpigmented scars or uneven skin color due to aging, hormones, or sun damage. Various over-the-counter and prescription treatments exist to help even skin tone. Products containing hydroquinone are commonly used. Hydroquinone is a chemical that inhibits the enzyme in skin cells that cause darkening of the skin, and is used to brighten complexions and lighten dark spots. Hydroquinone can be found over-the-counter or by prescription, depending on the strength needed. This medication can cause skin irritation and phototoxic reactions, which means it can react with the sun and cause skin discoloration particularly on those with darker complexions. Azelaic acid, which works similarly to hydroquinone but targets only hyperpigmented skin cells, is also used commonly for skin discoloration. A topical retinoid, such as Retin A, is another treatment option used to even skin tone and improve complexion, especially in individuals that are acne prone. Retinoids can cause dryness, peeling, skin irritation, worsening of acne, and sun sensitivity. Be sure to tell your provider if you are pregnant or trying to become pregnant before using these medications.
Applying an effective sunscreen every morning is the next step to help keep your skin looking flawless and is essential for darker complexions. Sunscreen helps to prevent against premature aging and skin discoloration. Look for sunscreens with mineral sunblocks, such as zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, as those found in Vanicream sunscreen SPF 50+, which is also free of parabens, fragrances, dyes, and preservatives. Make sure to schedule a routine skin check up with your dermatology provider for additional treatment options tailored to your skin type and color.
For more information and tips, see our Facebook and Google+ pages.