When it comes to beauty, melanin rich skin has a variety of needs other than simply a more varied array of makeup colors. Those with darker skin tones are met with specific skin care requirements and issues too. Learn more about the role melanin plays in skin and natural Black skin care tips.
What is Melanin and What Role Does It Play in Skin?
Melanin is a group of molecules responsible for pigmentation of the skin. The more melanin skin has, the darker it appears.
Produced by cells known as melanocytes, melanin produces different shades of pigment in the skin according to a person’s genetic makeup. Melanocytes are produced in two forms, eumelanin and pheomelanin. Eumelanin creates black and brown skin tones, while pheomelanin produces reddish brown tones, as seen in those with red hair and freckled skin.
You may think that a person with darker skin has more melanocytes. But, in fact, all humans have roughly the same number of these cells. Differing skin tones are due to other factors that influence the production of melanin in the cells, like genetics, UV exposure, and the size of melanocytes.
Melanin is produced in small, membrane-bound organelles, the melanocyte cells known as melanosomes. Lightly pigmented skin usually contains melanocytes that have clusters of 2-3 melanosomes, while darkly pigmented skin contains individual melanosomes which more readily convert into melanin in epidermal cells.
Common Skin Characteristics of Melanin Rich Skin
Aside from influencing the color of a person’s skin, melanin has antioxidant and some skin photo-protective properties against UV damage, for one. Research also shows there may be a lower incidence of skin cancer among those with darker skin.
One melanin rich skin specific attribute is that darker skin tones appear to show less signs of aging. In studies, darker skin tones show firmer, smoother looking skin than people with lighter skin tones. Research suggests this is due in part to less UV-induced photoaging.
People with darker skin tend to have larger pore size, which can coincide with higher oil production on the face. The good news? Oily skin often shows fewer signs of aging versus dry skin types.
It’s also true that those with melanin rich skin may see hyperpigmentation, often following acne or other types of skin inflammation. When dark skin looks dull with a whitish cast this is most often due to dryness. This condition can occur on both the face and the body.
Beautiful Black Skin Care Tips
Yes, there are ways to combat the look and feel of the most common concerns associated with melanin rich skin. Utilizing black skin care tips and setting up a unique regimen can help to ward off future issues.
No matter what your skin tone, it’s always important to choose products made for your skin type. If you tend to be more oily, using a facial cleanser and moisturizer made to lend a balancing feel with lightweight moisture should help visibly improve acne breakouts. Your skin needs natural oils, so avoid soaps that leave skin with a "squeaky" feel.
Skin with more melanin needs more care when exfoliating. Peels are risky, and can result in more hyperpigmentation. That is because when the skin is traumatized it responds by producing more melanin to protect that area of skin. Overproduction of melanin can result in darker patches, even on already dark skin. This pigmentation is called post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. It is very important to treat black skin gently, which is why the nurturing, supportive nature of holistic skincare is a fantastic option.
A mask with active enzymes can be a great solution to decongest pores, gently exfoliate, and discourage breakouts. Enzymes help remove dead skin cells, but are not as aggressive as acidic peels made from lactic or glycolic acid.
Studies show that black skin can suffer from a higher rate of Trans Epidermal Water Loss than white skin. Skincare that has ingredients to help manage hydration will help avoid both breakouts and the whitish cast that can result from dryness. When skin is dry the dead skin cells don't slough properly, causing hyperkeratinization and opportunities for breakouts.
Not all skincare is designed well to help skin hold hydration. Many lotions do not provide the nutrients skin needs to maintain its protective barrier. The cream must be carefully curated with ingredients like herbs, niacinamide, Sodium PCA, and even soy lecithin to help deliver moisture deeply into the skin and lock it in. The science of natural skin hydration can really benefit black skin.
If hyperpigmentation should happen steer clear of risky ingredients like hydroquinone.
Hydroquinone has systemic health risks like causing damage to the DNA of cells, and can accumulate in the body with daily use. It can also cause a condition called ochronosis where the skin develops blemishes and blue-black pigmentation. Skin bleaching is not worth that kind of risk, and there are healthier options to help with evening your natural skin color.
When looking to improve the look of hyperpigmentation, try natural brightening ingredients that even the skin’s appearance without irritating the skin. Ingredients like stabilized Vitamin C, licorice root, and gentian root can help even the appearance of skin coloration, and they also enhance your skin health. These ingredients will not cause your skin to be lighter than its natural tone, letting your rich, gorgeous color show up as it should.
What about sunscreen for melanin-rich skin? While more melanin may mean greater increased natural UV protection versus that of lighter skin tones, people who spend a lot of time outside may still want to wear a mineral based daily SPF to protect against the appearance of sun damage. Since some zinc formulations can show up on dark skin you may want to consider a zinc sunscreen with a truly invisible zinc, like Keys Solar RX SPF 30.
Setting up a routine that addresses the top concerns of melanin rich skin and utilizing these skin care tips for black skin will help you feel confident and comfortable. Everyone deserves to love their skin, and feel great about how it looks. We are honored to help care for all colors of skin in a healthy way.