The melanin that produces the rainbow of African-American skin tones plays a role in the development of dark spots and uneven skin tones. Roosevelt Hospital’s Skin of Color Center notes that African-American skin is also prone to acne, eczema, sensitivity and dryness. Few cosmetic preparations from commercial manufacturers meet the specific needs of African-American skin. Even those developed specifically for your general skin type can be ineffective or irritating. Use natural skin care ingredients for remedies that fit skin of color.
African-Americans often complain about dry, ashy skin. Lotions and creams produced for the general population seem to be less than effective at relieving this problem, but the traditional remedy: applying mineral oil or petroleum jelly results in an undesirable greasy appearance and feel, while clogging your pores, as well. Shea butter is a more effective moisturizer for African-American skin. Natural, unrefined shea butter contains vitamins A and E, which help your skin retain moisture and vitamin F, which heals and revitalizes damaged skin, according to Botanical.com. Its oleic and stearic acids nourish and soften your skin. As a bonus, it also has a small amount of cinnamic-- a natural sunscreen, according to Carefair.
An article authored by four dermatologists, “Natural Considerations for Skin of Color," published in the December 2006 issue of "Cutaneous Medicine for the Practitioner," notes that African Americans frequently seek ways to brighten a dull complexion. The research to-date shows that oatmeal is an effective natural product for cleaning and brightening skin of color. It is kind to sensitive skin, helps to moisturize and exfoliate dead skin. A limited human study reported in this article used colloidal oatmeal: a powder produced from ground oat kernels. Test subjects who used a moisturizer that contained colloidal oatmeal saw improvements in skin tone, dryness and brightness as soon as one day after initiating the experimental regimen twice daily. To obtain similar benefits, buy regular oatmeal and make your own facial masks or cleansers, using recipes from Planet Green or comparable websites.
Hyperpigmentation, darkening of affected skin, is a common African American skin condition that often follows inflammation, burns, wounds and acne. Rush University Medical Center states that the body increases production of melanocytes responsible for skin coloration while skin of color is healing. As a result, the affected skin may become darker than normal. The Cleveland Clinic notes that kojic acid is effective as a natural skin-lightening agent. Derived from a fungus, it inhibits melanin production, thus reducing dark scars, age spots and pregnancy or hormone-related hyperpigmentation. Kojic acid provides a less irritating alternative to hydroquinone, a skin lightener traditionally used in ethnic beauty products. Ask your dermatologist or a pharmacist to recommend a bleaching cream that contains kojic acid.
- Roosevelt Hospital: Skin Conditions
- Cleveland Clinic: Understanding the Ingredients in Skin Care Products
- Baumann, L. MD; Rodriguez, D. MD; Taylor, S. MD; Wu, J. MD, “Natural Considerations for Skin of Color”, “Cutaneous Medicine for the Practitioner”, December 2006
- Rush University Hospital: Skin and Hair Care