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Are Recommended Skin Care Practices Different for Women of Color? What You Need to Know

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Like women with fair skin, women of color should establish a regular skin care routine. While there may be some recommended skin care practices that are different for women of color, there are also many measures that women of all color should take to improve their skin. Below are five steps recommended for women of color, plus five best practices that women of all skin colors should follow.

1) Women of color may need to take special steps to combat hyperpigmentation. Skin conditions such as melasma and hyperpigmentation are more likely to affect women of color. Accordingly, they must take the required steps to help combat unwanted darkening of the skin. Below are some steps to help prevent hyperpigmentation in women of color:

  • Apply a broadband sunscreen every day
  • Use topical medications as recommended by a skin care professional
  • Chemical peels help reduce the effects of hyperpigmentation and melasma

2) Acne should be treated quickly in order to prevent scarring. Failure to promptly treat acne can contribute to scarring and unwanted hyperpigmentation. The cornerstone of acne prevention is a skin care regimen that includes the following:

  • Cleansing the face in the evening and each morning as opposed to only in the evening
  • Selecting a skin cleanser and moisturizer designed for oily skin
  • Application of topical gels and creams with benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid

3) Women with darker skin must be extra careful to avoid skin injury due to keloids. Women of color are more likely than lighter skinned women to develop large, raised scars called keloids. While the exact cause of keloids is not well-known, keloids tend to develop after an injury to the skin. Even minor cuts and burns can cause keloids, and they can emerge on any part of the body. Treatments include cortisone injections and surgical removal, but these treatments are not always effective.

4) Special precautions are needed to prevent dermatitis. While dermatitis affects women of all skin colors, this condition can be particularly stressful for women of color. Also known as dandruff, dermatitis impacts the scalp and skin areas around the hairline and eyebrows. The flakes produced by this condition are whitish or yellowish in color, and are very noticeable when they land on a woman’s dark skin. Women of color who have experienced dermatitis should choose an anti-fungal shampoo and check their skin regularly for the presence of flaking.

5) Women of color need to take special steps to prevent ingrown hairs. Women of color have different shaped hair follicles than women with fairer skin. Hair follicles of darker-skinned women are screw-shaped, which can predispose them to the development of a condition called Pseudofolliculitis Barbae (PFB). PFB is characterized by the formation of bumps under the skin’s surface that are triggered by ingrown hairs. The best way to prevent PFB is to use caution when shaving, or to seek laser hair removal from a trained professional.

Clearly there are numerous skin care recommendations that apply specifically to women of color. However, there are also key suggestions that should be followed by both darker-skinned women and fairer-skinned women. Below are five best practices that apply to women of color and women with fair skin:

1) Like women with lighter skin, women of color should establish a skin cleansing routine. A regular cleansing routine is the single most important element of any skin care regimen. Skin cleansing is critical to the prevention of skin conditions that affect women of all skin colors, including acne, blocked pores, and flaky skin. When establishing a skin cleansing routine, women of color should consider the following guidelines:

  • Plan to cleanse your face once each day. Washing more frequently may actually contribute to oiliness.
  • Cleanse your face before you go to bed. Women with oily skin may also wish to cleanse in the morning.
  • Spend roughly 30 seconds washing your face.

2) Selecting a skin cleanser based upon skin type is important. Regardless of skin color, women should choose a skin cleanser that is formulated for their particular skin type. In general, skin cleansers are designed for one of the following four skin types:

  • Oily skin. These skin cleansers may contain a bit of alcohol.
  • Sensitive skin. Cleansers for this skin type are usually hypo-allergenic and have limited chemical additives.
  • Dry skin. Moisturizing agents are typically included in cleansers for dry skin.
  • Normal skin. Women can choose from a variety of cleansers for this skin type.

3) Moisturization is important for women of all skin colors. Like many women with lighter skin, many women of color are prone to dry skin. As in the case of selecting a skin cleanser, women should choose a moisturizer that is designed to benefit their particular skin type. A moisturizer should be applied completing the cleansing process.

4) Sunscreen is a must for all women, including women of color. Women of color should not ignore the importance of wearing a broadband sunscreen simply because their skin is darker. Applying sunscreen should be an integral part of every woman’s skin care routine, regardless of skin color. Sunscreen should be applied after cleansing and moisturizing your face and should be reapplied following a workout or excessive sweating.

5) Skin cancer screenings are important for women with light skin and dark skin. While skin cancer is more prevalent among women with fair skin, melanoma and other types of skin cancers also strike women with darker skin. Skin cancer is particularly dangerous to women with darker skin because it is often not diagnosed until later stages when fatalities are more likely to result.

Please contact us to learn how the best skin care practices for women of color differ from those of women with fairer skin. We look forward to hearing from you!

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