African-American Skin Care

How to Keep Dark Skin Looking Gorgeous!


Michelle Obama, official White House portrait.

Michelle Obama (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Darker skin tones do not require special skin-care products, because skin color is not a skin type!  Darker skin tones do have some physiological differences from lighter skin tones; it’s just that those differences don’t impact what products you should be using.


Skin Care is Color Blind


When it comes to skin care, skin is skin. Think of it like your diet: we all need the same nutritious foods (that supply antioxidants, fatty acids, protein, vitamins, etc.) to be healthy. The exact same concept applies to skin.  Skin is the body’s largest organ which is why everyone’s skin needs the same ingredients depending on their skin type or condition. Everyone’s skin also needs the same basics to care for it:  cleansing, sun protection, and products for their skin type.

Skin Types:

  • Dry
  • Oily
  • Combination (oily on the forehead, nose and chin; normal to dry cheeks)
  • Normal
  • Sensitive (can also be a condition)

Anything else acne, aging, pigmentation, dehydration, etc. is a skin condition.

Here’s what you need to know:


  • Always use a cleanser for your skin type (avoid bar soap they can clog pores and cause skin to look ashy and feel dry).
  • Always choose products that are appropriate for your skin type (i.e. gels and serums for oily or combination skin; creams and lotions for dry skin).
  • Always use a well formulated sunscreen spf 15 or higher that is full or broad spectrum during the day (the most typical cause of uneven skin tone for women of color is sun damage).


How is African-American Skin Different from Other Skin Tones?


Although basic skin-care needs are the same for everyone, there are some issues that darker skin tones are more likely to experience. Such as skin issues like keloidal (raised) scarring, pronounced hyperpigmentation, and ingrown hairs.


The keloid is defined as an abnormal scar that grows beyond the boundaries of the original site of skin injury. Keloids have the appearance of a raised growth and are frequently associated with itching and pain.



A45-299-3 (Photo credit: otisarchives4)


Hyperpigmentation in skin is caused by an increase in melanin, the substance in the body that is responsible for color (pigment). Certain conditions, such as pregnancy or Addison’s disease (decreased function of the adrenal gland), may cause a greater production of melanin and hyperpigmentation. Exposure to sunlight is a major cause of hyperpigmentaion, and will darken already hyperpigmented areas.  Hyperpigmentation can also be caused by various drugs, including some antibiotics, antiarrhythmics, and antimalarial drugs, and some medical/skin care treatments.



Ingrown hairs are hairs that have curled around and grown back into your skin instead of rising up from it. An ingrown hair irritates the skin. It produces a raised, red bump (or group of bumps) that looks like a little pimple. Sometimes an ingrown hair can form a painful, boil-like sore.  Ingrown hairs can be itchy and uncomfortable, especially if you’ve got a lot of them. You may notice pus inside the bumps. Or you may see the hair that’s causing the problem.  Sometimes dead skin can clog up a hair follicle. That forces the hair inside it to grow sideways under the skin, rather than upward and outward.



Research shows that the only real difference between skin tones is the amount, size, and distribution of melanin (the cells which produce our skin’s pigment).


Sun Damage


Having more melanin gives darker skin tones an added advantage when it comes to how their skin handles sun exposure and how soon the damage becomes visible. Meaning the more melanin your skin has, the more natural defense your skin has against the sun. It doesn’t however mean damage from unprotected sun exposure isn’t happening! Uneven skin tone, wrinkles, and slower healing time (particularly for scars) is primarily a result of sun damage. Even though it takes longer and more intense sun exposure for visible damage to occur on darker skin it does happen unless it is properly protected. All skin, no matter what color, can be damaged by the sun and everyone needs to reapply broad-spectrum sunscreen every day and at regular intervals during long days outdoors, especially after swimming or perspiring.




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