Darker skin tones describe a range of skin colors from black to brown, olive to yellow, or tanned white skin, now referred to as Skin of Color (SOC). Skin Of Color includes, but is not limited to, ethnic backgrounds of African, Latin, Hispanic, Italian, Native American, Indian, Middle Eastern, Asian ancestry and people of mixed ethnicities.
Differences in skin color among individuals and populations is caused by variation in pigmentation as a result of genetics and differences in environment (exposure to the sun/ultraviolet radiation). Darker skin tones’ melanin production provides considerable protection from sun damage and photoaging. However, they have more melanin-related skin problems.
Over the years, there have been many myths and misconceptions as to whether darker skin tones can get chemical peels and/or microneedling.
The answer is YES, but with caution. One of the primary concerns for Skin of Color when having any skin treatments is the potential to develop Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation, referred to as PIH.
Hyperpigmentation and Skin of Color
Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) caused by pimples, burns, scratches or other minor skin traumas triggers excess melanin production. This leaves behind a dark patch that can last for months or even permanently. Sometimes skin trauma can cause hypopigmentation or “white spots” that are permanent. The concern with using chemical peels and other semi-invasive skin treatments is instead of clearing hyperpigmentation, the treatment does the opposite and creates more PIH.
Acne and Skin of Color
Skin of Color is more susceptible to acne because it tends to contain more sebaceous glands that are larger and produce more oil. It also typically has more skin shedding, increasing the likelihood of clogged pores. Acne is an inflammatory condition of the skin. Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation usually follows as a result of having acne.
Treatment of Hyperpigmentation on Dark Skin
Chemical peels, microneedle peels, microdermabrasion, enzymes and proper at-home skin-care products are a great option for treating acne, scars, hyperpigmentation (brown spots), PIH and wrinkles for all skin colors, especially darker skin tones. Most quasi-medical or laser treatments are too invasive for skin of color and, therefore are not an option.
No matter what your skin color is, always start conservatively with any skin-care treatment or product. It is easier to increase the strength gradually. We never want to overly treat darker skin tones. Over treatment can be caused by aggressive treatments/products, and/or treatments too close together, not giving the skin enough time to heal in between treatments.
Retinoids, glycolic acids, salicylic acids and benzoyl peroxides can be effective in lightening pigmentation problems and getting acne under control. When used incorrectly, they can cause significant dryness and irritation, making the problem worse. The key is getting the right combination of products and appropriate treatments.
What Treatment Should I Book?
New Client Consultation + Treatment
The New Client Consultation + Treatment allows extra time to help you get to the bottom of why you are breaking out and/or have hyperpigmentation and provide you with the tools to tackle it once and for all. Bring all of your questions, current skin-care products, makeup, list of medications, and vitamins for a comprehensive consultation. Please bring your actual products, not pictures of your products.
If you skip this first step, you will be missing a big piece of the complicated acne/hyperpigmentation puzzle. Chronic acne and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation is rarely cured with products and treatment alone. It is important to have a comprehensive plan that addresses acne from the inside-out and the outside-in. This consultation also includes a service the same day. The service may include The Acne Deep Pore Cleansing Facial with Celluma Light Therapy, chemical peel, and possibly both.
Seek Professional Advice!
Get help from a qualified aesthetician or medical professional who specializes in Skin of Color.
Not the person working at the cosmetics counter at Nordstrom. Not the spa. They may be aestheticians, but they may not be medically trained or equipped with treatments/products to work with Skin of Color, post inflammatory hyperpigmentation and/or acne. No internet purchases! Even if it says the product was designed them for hyperpigmentation, acne and/or ethnic skin, do not buy. Not your friend’s advice either. You are unique. You do not have the same skin as your friend. Even if you are seeing a Dermatologist, you need an aesthetician who specializes in Skin of Color to work in conjunction with your doctor. In the end, not seeking specialized professional advice can be costly and very frustrating.