Some important aspects of skin care can be affected by the amounts and kinds of color pigments in your skin.
Skin-Color Care Issues
Skin color sources
Melanin: Causes brown to black skin tones
Carotene: Causes yellowish to reddish tones
Hemoglobin: Outer skin of very fair-skinned people is translucent, allowing the pinkish to red tones of the red blood cells to show through
Light skin color (primarily from hemoglobin)
▪ Scars heal well
▪ Signs of aging appear earlier
▪ Bruising is more obvious
▪ Greater chance of skin cancer
Medium skin color
▪ Signs of aging appear later
▪ Fine wrinkling is less common
▪ Wrinkles appear later and in more localized areas
▪ Skin cancers are less common
▪ Bruising lasts longer than on lighter skin
▪ Scars may be thicker and darker
▪ Skin may retain hyper-pigmentation stains after inflammation
Yellowish to dark skin color (primarily from carotene)
▪ Signs of aging appear late
▪ Fine wrinkling does not usually occur
▪ Skin cancers are very rare
▪ Pigmentation changes may occur
▪ Eyelid surgery is more difficult
Dark skin color (primarily from melanin)
▪ Signs of aging appear very late
▪ Very little fine wrinkling
▪ Skin cancers are very rare
▪ Possible formation of keloids (growth of tumor-like scar tissue)
▪ Possible pigmentation changes
▪ Thicker cartilage (firm, flexible, connective tissue), hard to change
▪ When skin cancer does occur, it can be more aggressive
Dark skin and sun damage
One of the best things about dark skin is how well it handles sun exposure. But that doesn't mean damage from the sun can't happen. Everyone's skin needs to be protected by the application of broad-spectrum sunscreen at regular intervals during the day, even while driving, and especially after swimming or perspiring. Uneven skin tone, wrinkles, and slower healing time (particularly for scars) can be exacerbated by sun damage.
Dark skin and deep skin peels
If you have dark skin, the thing you want to avoid is uneven pigmentation, or loss of pigmentation (that can be permanent). Typically, fair-skinned patients are considered better suited to be treated with deeper chemical peels. There are some chemical peels safe for darker skin types that may be suitable for you.
However, because medical opinion varies so greatly on peels for dark skin from "there is no (reliably) good chemical or laser treatment to use on dark skin" to "almost everyone can benefit from chemical peels...you are no exception," it is very important that you use only a well qualified dermatologist experienced in providing peels for dark skin. Before undergoing treatment, your skin can be tested in an inconspicuous place to see possible undesirable effects of the treatment.
Five steps to any-color skin care
1. Gentle cleansing
2. Effective exfoliation to remove dead skin at least once a week, improving skin texture and tone
3. Moisturizing over all dry areas, including around the eyes
4. Daily protection with a broad-spectrum (UVA and UVB), sunscreen SPF rated 30 or more
5. Be careful when selecting treatments for any skin discolorations or blemishes
Choosing your daily skin care products
In selecting your daily skin care products, the color of your skin is far less important than whether your skin is dry or oily, thick or thin, sensitive or normal, youthful or mature. If you have sensitive skin or allergies, consulting your dermatologist is a good first step.
This article has been reviewed by Dr. Amy Wolthoff, Dermatologist.