African American Skin  

Posted by: LadyBird in

This article is taken from the website of Paula Begoun.

While many women of color feel their skin-care needs differ from those of Caucasian women, nothing could be further from the truth. I suspect the belief that a difference does exist comes from persuasive marketing which seeks to segment women of color into their own specialized group. Regardless of color or ethnic background, all skin is subject to a range of virtually identical problems with similar considerations. Whether it is dry or oily skin, blemishes, scarring, wrinkles, skin discolorations, rashes, rosacea, sensitivity, or sun damage, the diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment is the same for all men and women.

Please don’t misunderstand: there are certainly some distinctions between varying ethnic groups when it comes to skin problems and skin-care options, but overall these differences are minor in comparison to the number of similarities. Think of it this way: regardless of skin color, dietary needs remain the same. A high-calorie diet results in weight gain, an unhealthy diet can cause health risks, and if you don't eat you die, regardless of your skin color. As far as skin care goes, skin is an organ (the largest in the human body) and needs the same ingredients and formulations to be healthy or deal with various skin concerns regardless of its color.

Research on this topic supports the points above while also noting the distinctive traits between ethnic skin tones, though contrary to popular belief, these traits don't mean different products are needed for treatment. According to an article in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology (February 2002, pages 41–62) "There is not a wealth of data on racial and ethnic differences in skin and hair structure, physiology, and function. What studies do exist involve small patient populations and often have methodological flaws.

Consequently, few definitive conclusions can be made. The literature does support a racial differential in epidermal melanin [pigment] content and melanosome dispersion in people of color compared with fair-skinned persons. These differences could at least in part account for the lower incidence of skin cancer in certain people of color compared with fair-skinned persons; a lower incidence and different presentation of photo aging; pigmentation disorders in people with skin of color; and a higher incidence of certain types of alopecia [loss of hair] in Africans and African Americans compared with those of other ancestry." While skin cancer may not be as much of a threat or concern, skin discolorations resulting from unprotected sun exposure or hormonal concerns are the same as that for women with lighter skin. Of course darker skin tones suffer less sun-induced changes to skin (including dryness) than women with lighter skin tones. This is due to the greater presence of melanin in darker skin tones, but does not mean that such skin tones don’t require a well-formulated moisturizer when/if their skin becomes dry for other reasons. [But] women of color are just as likely to suffer from photo(sun)-induced dermatitis conditions as women with light skin tones, proving that melanin only goes so far toward protecting women of color from sun damage.

A surprising difference noted in the research it is the imperative need to treat darker skin tones gently. When irritated, darker skin tones can stimulate hyperpigmentation causing patches of dark or grayish skin discolorations. Though this is easily treated, the main focus should be prevention. Given my fervent belief over the years that all skin types need to be treated gently, it's encouraging there is research pointing that way for women of color as well. When skin is irritated it cannot protect itself from the environment, it causes collagen and elastin to break down, it hurts the skin's immune response, and can cause skin to become dry (ashen) and flaky.

The bottom line is that regardless of skin color or ethnicity, all skin needs a gentle cleanser, effective exfoliant, state-of-the-art moisturizer (over dry areas), a sunscreen rated SPF 15 or greater containing UVA-protecting ingredients of avobenzone, titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, or Mexoryl SX (ecamsule) and appropriate treatments for skin discolorations (hydroquinone-based products), blemishes, and wrinkles.

This entry was posted on Thursday, July 17, 2008 and is filed under . You can leave a response and follow any responses to this entry through the Subscribe to: Post Comments (Atom) .


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