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Advice Specifically Designed for Darker Skin Tones

Dr. Nina Desai Provides Skincare Insight 

Most products and ingredients used to address skin problems are the same regardless of skin tone. However, certain issues may require a more specialized approach for those with darker complexions.

Individuals with more melanin in their skin tend to have darker tones, making them prone to inflammation that can lead to redness, hyperpigmentation/hypopigmentation and scarring. Thus it is important for treatments on these individuals’ skin to be delicate and not provoke any irritation or exacerbation of the issues.

What is Hyperpigmentation? 

As a dermatologist, my clinical practice is often focused on addressing hyperpigmentation in patients with darker skin. This condition can be caused by trauma or inflammation of the skin, as well as melasma – and hormonal-related pigmentary disorder. It’s important to remain mindful while treating excessive pigmentation in dark complexions since overly aggressive approaches may result in even further discoloration – and at its most extreme level, cause hypopigmentation due to complete loss of coloration.

For those worried about hyperpigmentation, consulting a dermatologist who specializes in the treatment of skin of color is strongly recommended. With this collaboration, you will be able to customize your skincare routine that suits best for you.

What Components Are Proven to Reduce Hyperpigmentation?

When caring for hyperpigmentation in all skin tones, I’m a firm believer in utilizing products with potent yet gentle brightening ingredients such as vitamin C, AHAs and BHAs, alpha arbutin, kojic acid and retinol. Be sure to start slowly by introducing one active ingredient at first before gradually increasing the percentage of each product you use so that your skin can adjust accordingly. 

Start slowly and progress gradually. This is especially critical for retinol, as well as prescription-strength tretinoin/Retin A since their Vitamin A derivatives can cause dryness, reddening, inflammation or peeling if used intensively. Furthermore, darker skin tones may experience post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation from these ingredients. When you’re ready to proceed further into your skincare routine; opt for a liquid exfoliant featuring a combination of five alpha and poly hydroxy acids to clear congested pores in order to promote smoother and brighter complexion.

When starting a retinol or a prescription-strength tretinoin regimen with skin of color, it’s best to slowly increase the percentage. Start at 0.5% for retinol and 0.025% for tretinoin twice a week initially, then gradually move up to every other night as your skin adjusts accordingly. To combat dryness resulting from the treatment, make sure you have an appropriate moisturizer on hand – those with oily or acne-prone features should select one that is non comedogenic while individuals blessed with drier tones will find more benefit in thicker creams that offer better occlusion capabilities when locking in moisture and minimizing post inflammatory complications or irritation which can occur if proper precautions aren’t taken.

To ensure your skin will be safe with the use of these ingredients, speak to a dermatologist.

Can You Use Peels on Darker Skin? 

It’s commonly believed that individuals with darker skin tones cannot reap the benefits of powerful active ingredients or chemical peels – this is false! It IS possible to make improvements in dark complexion, tone and texture when proper protocols are followed. We must be disciplined, though; patience brings out our best results.

To achieve even, glowing skin we must exfoliate and peel away the dead or discolored cells. When taking into consideration darker tones of skin, I usually recommend gentler acids such as glycolic acid, lactic acid, mandelic acid and salicylic acid for peeling treatments since they produce less inflammation on the epidermis. Even though a few sessions may be necessary to see results from these milder peels, it is safer than harsher alternatives when combating hyperpigmentation in those with deeper complexions. The key is being patient while proceeding cautiously; slow progress will yield beautiful outcomes.

To start, go for the lowest percentage active peel and observe how your skin reacts. Gentle solutions are generally most efficacious in skincare; therefore it’s perfectly fine to stick with a low concentration if you’re getting sufficient resurfacing and glow from it. I personally love the LASPA Naturals Intensive Glycolic Peel (10%) Overnight Treatment, as this is an ideal introductory-level peel which provides mild smoothening plus brightening effects. When you feel that your skin can handle boosting up its intensity of peeling, make sure to get advice from a qualified dermatologist or aesthetician first before deciding upon what type of treatment best suits your needs.

SPF is an Absolute Must

To protect darker skin not only from photo-aging, but also hyperpigmentation and melasma, utilizing SPF 30 or higher is a must. Apply sunscreen to your face, neck, chest and hands every morning as part of your daily routine – and don’t forget to reapply liberally if you are spending most of the day outdoors. Along with using protection from UV rays, adding active brightening ingredients can help in achieving desired results.

To ensure there’s no discoloration on darker tones, I choose a lightweight texture like the ILIA Super Serum Skin Tint SPF 40 for a fresh and luminous finish.

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