There are many things that as black people we often discuss – haircare routines, recommended beauty experts, but there is nothing more pressing than discovering treatments that work well for our skin. It’s not to say that black skin is more difficult to treat but there are certain concerns that are more frequent and more severe on black skin. Dr Ifeoma Ejikeme, Founder and Medical Director of Adonia Medical Clinic explains “In my practice some of the most common concerns are acne, uneven skin tone, post inflammatory hyperpigmentation and dark circles around the eyes”.
“Pigment producing cells known as melanocytes produce melanin, which travels through the upper layers of the skin. Different environmental factors can trigger more production of melanin,” Dr Ifeoma shares. “These can include things like sunlight, trauma and heat. When this occurs repeatedly, the body’s response is to produce more melanin.” For black skin, this will result in prominent dark patches developing, and matters are further complicated if post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation occurs (usually after the skin has faced an injury or an inflammatory skin condition such as acne or dermatitis).
When treating hyperpigmentation there are a number of factors that can contribute to its improvement.
– Seeking professional advice
– Getting in-clinic treatments such as YAG laser (depending on its severity).
– Exfoliation, which promotes cellular turnover and in turn speeds up cell regeneration for an even skin tone.
-Brightening actives such as vitamin C, hydroquinone (under regulated prescription), liquorice root, and mandelic, kojic and lactic acids.
When treating uneven texture, the first thing Dr Ifeoma recommends is to “invest in a consultation that will not only review your current skincare routine but will help to identify the reason for change in texture.” The problem often lies in your skincare routine and requires you to find targeted treatments that are better suited to your skin concerns. However, a simple yet effective rule to follow is to ensure your skin drawing in as much hydration as possible – that includes both water consumption and products, the more hydrated you are, the more your skin will become brighter, even and smoother. Similarly implementing an exfoliant into your routine will help to slough away the dead skin cells that reside on the upper layers of the skin, revealing a softer and smoother finish.
Whether you spend the majority of your time inside or outside, you should be wearing SPF – it’s non-negotiable. “SPF is important to anyone who wants to delay the sun related changes to their skin such as uneven skin tone, fine lines, melasma, widening of pores. It’s the one tool we have to reduce these concerns, and prevention is always better than cure” Dr Ifeoma explains.
BRIGHTENING/EVENING SKIN TONE
The most common skincare concern for those with black skin is how to brighten and even the skin’s tone, and for it to look as healthy and radiant as possible. “We need to understand why any dark marks and hyperpigmentation have occurred. If it’s acne this must first be treated, and issues such as over-exfoliation must also be addressed,” highlights Dr Ifeoma. “A group of tyrosinase inhibitors can be helpful and these can be found in ingredients such as kojic acid, arbutin, liquorice root extract and vitamin C.” Incorporate some of these ingredients into your routine both day and night to see an improvement over time.