Does Skin Care Change According to Skin Colour?
The short answer is yes, but when you look at different skin colours and skin types, there isn’t much of a difference. Whether skin colour is light or dark, all skin types are built similarly.
The Medical Importance of Skin Colours
Skin is our largest organ. Therefore, it is important to get familiar with daily care, sun damage prevention, and age management protocols.
Ethnic, black, brown, yellow, or white skin types are terms we use to describe the colour of skin by way of its pigmentation level.
Different skin colours are created due to three pigments: melanin, carotene, and hemoglobin.
The Role of Melanin
Melanin is a naturally occurring, harmful UV sunlight protector. It is produced by amino acids in special cells called melanocytes.
There is an important enzyme called tyrosinase that is responsible for creating Melanin and certain pigments. Sunlight serves as a stimulant to make more darker pigments.
It is a mistake to think that darker skin is dark because it has more melanocytes (cells that produce melanin). There is actually the same amount of melanocytes in white and dark skin. The difference is that in darker skin, the cells hold more of the darker pigment.
Skin colour is darker when there is more melanin. It will also be sent up to the skin’s surface faster. Although the skin types and colours are different, the skin itself is built similarly.
The melanocytes of darker skin produce more epidermal (superficial level of skin) melanin. The epidermis of dark skin is more effective at protecting the skin from UV light due to an increased level of epidermal melanin. As much as our skin colour and type are different, we are very similar in the structure and function of our skin.
Common Skin Problems Seen in Dark Skinned Patients:
- Dyschromias (changes in skin pigmentations)
- Post-inflammatory hyper-pigmentation
- Pseudofolliculitis barbae (in-grown hair)
- Textural changes
- Oily skin
Although light chemical peeling methods are relatively straight forward, great care needs to be given to minimize possible side effects.
Superficial peels generally affect the top layer of the skin and usually have no risk of scarring. They are usually done weekly or monthly for maximum efficiency. Patients need to be cooperative and use home care products to get the best out of these treatments. The treatments do not go too deep, allowing dark skin patients to continue with daily activities without significant downtime.
The main goal in treating dark skin is to decrease inflammation such as acne or ingrown hair. By doing so, we can achieve improvements in skins texture and superficial uneven shades of skin pigmentations sometimes called melasma.
Patients with very dark skin have a greater risk of post-inflammatory hyper-pigmentation. In these complicated cases, a lower concentration of superficial peels must be used, and some persistent areas of darkness require the use of additional chemical agents.
Some of these dark areas come from deeper dermal pigmentations that do not respond to current treatments. Dark pigmentations can develop later in life and may be aggravated by early sun exposure or hormones such as estrogen that occurs during pregnancy. They can also be affected by the use of certain birth control pills. The use of broad-spectrum sunscreen is very helpful in these cases.
Author: Daniel Man, MD