Do different races need different skincare treatments?

Heather Campbell
 min read

Do different races need different skincare treatments? Have you heard of ethnic cosmetics?

Do different races need different skincare treatments?These products are presented as being specifically formulated according to skin color. They are mainly aimed at darker skin types: black, mixed-race and, to a lesser extent, Asian.

Haircare products for Afro hair were the precursors, and today the offer of ethnic skincare products is booming. With huge financial stakes, of course.

But are they really necessary? Do we have specific needs based on our skin color? Does the skin have profoundly different needs depending on its color?

As a general rule, skincare treatments do not differ on the basis of skin color alone. Skin color depends on the amount of pigment in the skin, called melanin, but has nothing to do with skin care. However, different skin types do have different needs and should be treated accordingly.

Read on for for more information about skin color, skin types, and the recommended skincare treatments per skin type.

Do different races need different skincare treatments? Introduction to skin color, melanin and UV

Human skin has an infinite variety of complexions, from the lightest white to almost black brown. Copper, pinkish, tending towards yellow…

The presence of pigments in the epidermis, melanin, essentially determines the shades of color of the epidermis.

There are several types of melanin, more or less dark, tending towards yellow, red, and black. But overall, the more melanin a skin produces, the darker it is.

Melanin is not only a dye. It plays an essential protective role for the skin. By absorbing the ultraviolet rays emitted by the sun, especially the UVB, it prevents them from reaching and damaging the DNA of the cells.

Tanning is a response of the skin cells. Subjected to strong sun exposure, the skin cells activate melanin production.

Melanin levels can vary slightly depending on the season, age, hormones, body regions, sun exposure, etc. But they are genetically defined.

The existence of darker skins is not the result of chance but of an adaptation of the human skin to its environment.

More pigmented skin in hot and humid climates

The skins richer in melanin are the best suited for regions with intense UV radiation, tropical or equatorial areas such as the Republic of Ecuador, Colombia, Brazil, the Caribbean, Africa, Southeast Asia…

A dark skin protects up to 5 times better from UV rays than a light skin, and it also contains fewer sebaceous glands.

Two big advantages of more pigmented skin with fewer sebaceous glands:

  • No shiny, greasy face in hot weather
  • A lighter hydrolipidic barrier
    • This is a light protective film that covers your skin. It mainly consists of perspiration, water, sebum and lipids and protects our skins against external aggressions such as bacteria.

Less skin surface protection is an advantage in these hot and humid climates.

This creates a kind of natural personal air conditioning because water evaporates more easily from the skin’s surface, cooling the body during hot weather.

And since the humidity in the atmosphere penetrates more easily, dehydration is avoided. Not bad, right?

In addition, these skins age less quickly. They are better protected from free radicals, and generally more toned thanks to a denser network of fibers and collagen and a thicker surface layer.

One could conclude that more pigmented skin is stronger and needs less attention, perhaps as long as they are exposed to a climate that suits them.

Because in American and European latitudes, it’s a different story in regions with temperate climates!

More pigmented skin is more fragile in our latitudes

Extremely well-armed against the sun and heat, these skins are much more helpless when confronted with the cold, lack of sunlight, and humidity.

Their hydrolipidic barrier is indeed insufficient for our temperate climates.

The air humidity does not sufficiently compensate for their water losses.

Skin of African origin is prone to dehydration and is particularly prone to eczema.

Severe scaling can also lead to very visible patches of depigmentation.

Weakened by the climate, these skins tend to be very sensitive and over-react to stress, pollution, hormonal variations, seasonal changes, etc.

Related post: Stress and your skin: How cortisol affects skin health

Asian skins, in particular, beyond their great diversity, tend to redden and irritate easily.

Attacked and deprived, the skin then tries to protect itself with its weapons. It goes into overdrive producing more and more sebum. The result is skin prone to shine, clogged pores, blackheads, and pimples. Acne is often the result.

Even though they are prone to it, these thicker skins have a harder time healing from the slightest pimple.

Especially when the melanin adds its pigment, it infiltrates the scars and causes darker spots.

Finally, in lack of sunlight, they produce less melanin. The complexion becomes dull, and the pigmentation becomes uneven.

In short, these skins that are (almost) indifferent to the sun and aging, are becoming sensitive and fragile in the United States and Europe. So these darker skins have to be pampered!

Skin problems: the most shared thing in the world?

Dryness or dehydration, shine, oily tendency, acne, eczema, weak hydrolipidic barrier and problems of cicatrization (scar formation after a wound has healed) are universal problems!

There are so many dermatological concerns that we can all face regardless of our skin color.

Because beyond their differences, human skins are always made up of the same three layers (hypodermis, dermis and epidermis) and the same types of cells.

Regardless of their skin tone, they all experience the same principles of cell renewal. They all produce sebum to protect themselves, and they all need hydration and fat. In short, their basic mechanisms are the same.

And you know what else is universal? The active ingredients and the gentle effect of cosmetics with natural ingredients!

Favoring cosmetics with natural ingredients is important

Plant oils or butters, essential oils, plant extracts, etc. The natural active ingredients derived from plants have a particularly effective fundamental mode of action.

Rich in nutrients close to the skin’s structure, they penetrate the skin barrier for an in-depth action that respects all skin types.

They are both powerful enough to penetrate thick skins, and gentle enough for sensitive skins.

Moreover, natural cosmetics use plants from all over the world: shea butter, cocoa butter, argan or jojoba oil, green tea, coconut, etc.

Natural cosmetics traditionally used in Africa, the Maghreb or Asia, tropical, or Mediterranean climates, have long proven their effectiveness, even on Caucasian skin.

Favoring natural cosmetics is more important for these skins because their hydrolipidic barrier is not optimal.

Genuine natural cosmetics don’t need chemical preservatives, irritating surfactants and endocrine disruptors, because they can penetrate the epidermis much more easily than conventional cosmetics.

To be sure, choose skin care products that guarantee 100% natural active ingredients, rather than products with organic labels but with insufficient guarantees.

Dark skin: what beauty routine?

Our answer is definite. Skincare products formulated according to skin color are useless.

However, as we have seen, the more pigmented skins have specific needs that must be met in an adapted manner:

  • Think of vegetable oil to remove your skin makeup. It is ideal for removing excess sebum and impurities without rubbing and helps strengthen the hydrolipidic barrier without greasing. In short, it is ideal for fragile, oily, or dehydrated skin.
  • Choose a gentle, non-aggressive cleaning, free of irritating ingredients such as sulfated agents or synthetic perfumes, and limit the use of tap water, which can be too hard.
  • If your skin tends to become oily, apply a matte finish without drying out your skin, which is already prone to dehydration.
  • Regular care adapted to your skin type is the secret to a stronger and more radiant skin:
    • Moisturize and nourish if your skin is dry and sensitive and/or in winter
    • Pure shea or cocoa butter
    • Moisturizing oils for normal to combination skin, etc.

Above all, dark skins are very sensitive to variations in climate, hormones, etc. Listen to your skin and adapt your skincare products according to what it tells you.

And while you should pay particular attention to the points listed above, remember that every skin is unique.

Whatever your skin tone, the secret always lies in choosing cosmetics adapted to your skin’s needs. To do this, perform a skin diagnosis online or with a dermatologist.

It is much more relevant to choose your care according to your skin type than to your skin color!

Finally, if you can, avoid too much sun exposure and don’t forget to protect your skin from UV by applying sunscreen. Melanin does protect you, but not completely.

Do different races need different skincare treatments? Conclusion

In summary:

  • The different skin tones of humans result from a long evolution to adapt to the environment. The darkest skins are very well armed to defend themselves in sunny and humid regions.
  • In our American and European latitudes, they tend to become dehydrated, sensitive and oily because their hydrolipidic barrier is not optimal for the temperate climate.
  • Very sensitive to seasonal changes such as during autumn (the transition from summer to winter), hormonal variations, stress, etc., the needs of these skins evolve during the year but with a constant need for hydration without greasing, with a richer hydration in winter.
  • Pay special attention to preventing irritations and pimples to avoid scars on these skins that mark easily. Opt for a careful but gentle cleansing and active ingredients to help the skin fight and heal.
  • These needs do not have to be covered by specific care. Beyond the colors, all human skins have a similar mode of functioning and share the same basic needs. 100% natural cosmetics will be effective for all skin tones and effective for all skin types.

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About Heather Campbell

As a nutritionist, my field of specialization is science-based nutritional advice but more importantly, it is my goal to share capturing and inspiring stories, examples and solutions which can help plus-size individuals overcome their specific difficulties. Read More