The Beauty Grail for Women of Color
Light, dark and medium toned. White, yellow, red, and golden brown, such are the varying shades of color that span and expand our “ideal” of beauty. While each skin tone shares many common physiological characteristics, they also each have their own unique qualities that need to be taken into consideration with regard to skin care products, anti-aging protocols, cosmetic enhancement and cosmetic surgery.
Hispanic, Asian, African American and Indo-European Skin Care
The most apparent difference between Caucasian skin and ethnic skin is the quantity of melanin the skin produces. Women with darker skin coloring have melanocytes that produce more melanin than their lighter skinned sisters. While it is true that an increase in melanin provides a low level natural SPF and helps reduce the risk of skin cancer, it does not make darker skinned individuals immune to the damaging effects of the sun.
Woman of Color Need Sunscreen Protection
Women of color and specifically those individuals with darker complexions exhibit less of the visible signs of age that we associate with sun damage such as lines and wrinkles. Yet rather than taking advantage of the age-defying benefits that their naturally low level SPF provides, many of these women choose to skip the use of sunscreen which is a mistake.
We are exposed to the effects of the sun’s rays on a daily basis, 365 days a year, on sunny days as well as cloudy. UVA refers to the sun’s ultra violet rays which penetrate the body and damage the skin’s cellular DNA. UVB refers to the sun’s burning rays and are most evident during prolonged periods of exposure when the skin becomes red, dry, chaffed and burned. The first rule of good skin care for women of color is to use a broad spectrum sunscreen on a daily basis. Your sunscreen should provide both UVA and UVB protection.
Two of Dr. Hamrah’s favorites are SkinCeuticals Physical Fusion UV Defense SPF 50, which has a sheer, universal tint that is adaptable to all skin tones, both light and dark. Additionally, it boosts radiance and promotes and even, luminous complexion while offering daily protection.
Nova Surgicare’s Replenix Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 50, utilizes a specially formulated zinc oxide (that doesn’t leave a white cast on the skin) and features and easy to use spray-on applicator.
Whichever sunscreen you choose, it should be applied daily at least 30 minutes before heading outdoors. Whenever sun exposure is prolonged during outdoor activities or on vacation, you should reapply your sunscreen every two hours for maximum protection.
Skincare Products for Women of Color
Another popular myth is that women with darker skin tones require special skin care products. The truth is they do not. Melanin production does not affect the physiology of the skin and therefore does not play a role in selecting the best products homecare use. The only factors that should be taken into consideration when selecting your skin care products are your skin type and your skin care goals.
Ethnic Skin, Knowing Your Skin Type
Oily, dry, dehydrated, combination, and normal are the most common skin type classifications. While it may seem like child’s play to properly assess your skin type, there is a large margin for error without the assistance of a clinically trained skincare professional.
Among the Most Common Errors in Assessing Ethnic Skin Types
- Oily skin can be stripped of its natural lubricants by the use of harsh products, tanning beds or prolonged sunlight exposure, and may lead to a subsequent increase in oil production as the skin tries to compensate and counterbalance excessive dryness.
- Skin that initially appears to be dry may really be dehydrated, requiring added hydration rather than oil.
- Dry skin may require exfoliation to remove dead skin cells before the application of serums or moisturizer
- Combination skin may be attributed to excessive exfoliation and the use of the wrong cleanser or treatment products.
The only way to ensure that you are using the best home care products is to have your skin evaluated by a skin care professional with training in the physiology of the skin. Most cosmetic surgery, plastic surgery, and dermatology practices have one or more practitioners with specialized training to provide this service.
Make sure the skincare specialist you consult with has clinical experience in both the commonalities and differences between Caucasian skin and skin of diverse ethnicities. Expertise and tailored treatment protocols can mean the difference between results that are good and results that are great.
Should you desire, the skin care practitioners within a medical setting should also be able to address your skin care goals such as age prevention, skin clarity, and facial rejuvenation.
For additional information on treating ethnic skin return to our blog next week or contact Dr. Hamrah our office for a consultation. Telephone: 703.288.4495