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By Christine Erickson

Skin care is most effective and successful when armed with knowledge. This is the same for all skin colors and skin types. A skin care program for those of African American descent is just as any skin care program, you have to understand what makes your skin unique and different. This knowledge and understanding gives you the power to decide exactly what products are best for your skin. Ultimately regardless of type or color, all skin has certain requirements that must be met to achieve a healthy natural glow.

One of the most notable differences that can be seen in the skin makeup of African Americans is the amount of melanin which is produced by the skin cells called melanocytes. All individuals have the same number of melanocytes dispersed throughout the epidermis layer of their skin, however your skin tone is determined by the amount of melanin produced. Simply put, the more melanin the darker your skin tone and this is the reason why no two individuals regardless of race have exactly the same skin tone.

There is of course advantages and disadvantages to having larger amounts of melanin in your skin. The greatest benefit is protection from the sun’s damaging effect which causes everything from sunburns to the premature aging of the skin. African Americans tend to look years if not decades younger than their fair skinned counterparts of the same age. More importantly African Americans are less susceptible to developing skin cancer. In essence the naturally occurring melanin in the skin acts as a partial sunscreen. The important thing to remember is that this doesn’t completely negate the effects of the sun and a sunscreen of SPF 15 is still recommended for complete protection.


As mentioned above there is also challenges to having larger amounts of melanin present. For instance the skin tends to be more reactive meaning that many sorts of trauma or irritation to skin may cause the melanocytes to produce more melanin. This excess production may result in darkened areas or a scarring effect which is called post inflammatory hyper pigmentation and can last months or even years. Therefore special care is needed to avoid these situations and repair any already damaged skin.

To minimize the occurrence of unnecessary damage to the skin, here are few simple tips. First of all, be gentle. Although cleansing and exfoliating are necessary, scrubbing your skin excessively or with to much pressure can cause bruising and microscopic tears. Darker pigmented skin tends to be more delicate and often hides the resulting damage. Clay based exfoliates are recommended because they tend to be gentler on the skin. It is also best to avoid the use of soap on your face, it tends to be harsh and drying. Try to stay away from products with a lot of perfumes as they can cause irritations and rashes. If you have oily skin a purifying cleanser would be a good choice.

Black or dark pigmented skin tends to have larger pores, therefore toning is essential. A gentle toner helps to prevent blackheads and to help keep the pores healthy. Moisturizing is a topic which seems to be controversial especially for those individuals that are affected by oily complexions. A large majority of persons with dark skin do indeed struggle with oily skin however that does not necessarily mean that can not moisturize. There is a vast selection of moistures available that quickly penetrate the skin without leaving a heavy greasy layer to contend with, these are preferred.

For the most part, skin is skin, and it is all different regardless of tone or color. Every individual is different therefore no one product fits all. Use products that fit your individual needs and that give you the results you are looking to achieve.

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