Skincare principles for the skin of color community!
That skincare is complex is an understatement. According to research, 1 out of 4 products in the beauty industry is a skincare product — no wonder you see a new product/brand in the news feed every time you scroll through social media. Add to this mix a laundry list of ingredients to decode; identifying ingredients that actually work based on research; optimal percentages of these ingredients; best and worst ingredient pairings; layering them the right way; and more importantly what to stay away from so you don’t do more damage in the process.
This gets further complicated when you have skin of color (Fitzpatrick scale 4–6; could include type 3 if it tans rather than burns). Contrary to white/Caucasian skin we have larger melanocytes (the cells that produce the pigment melanin) which are easily triggered — one scratch, one wrong product, any kind of inflammation and the vicious cycle of hyperpigmentation starts. This my friend you are most likely to have at some point in your life.
I haven’t been immune to this either. 6 months into using a popular/trending skincare range, my type 4 skin became extremely dry and flaky, hyperpigmentation worsened, and I became sensitive to products that never felt irritating before. It was 2014 and I was enamored with Korean (K) skincare — their claims of ‘glass skin’ were too enticing to pass on. I would religiously slather on the hydrating toner, essence, serum, mask, cream etc. in the morning, and repeat this tedious 7 step routine at night. I even pretended my skin had transformed because subconsciously I wanted it to, given the time and money I had spent.
These products had:
- Tons of fragrance,
- Bad alcohols, and
- Essential oils
These ingredients are a recipe for disaster when it comes to skin of color. Had I known better, I would have steered clear of them.
Unfortunately, the beauty industry is driven by marketing. Since it is not regulated the way drugs (i.e., medicines) are, marketing takes full advantage of this drawback. Buzzwords such as ‘anti-aging’, ‘skin tightening’, ‘luminous’, ‘natural’, ‘clean’, ‘organic’ are bound to catch our attention. What is alarming is that companies spend more money on marketing (including attractive packaging, attention grabbing labels, inflated product claims) than on actual product development and testing.
Have you ever wondered why certain skincare ingredients and products trend? Because once something becomes popular every company starts to formulate it. And we as consumers pivot in the fear of missing out (FOMO), and in doing so we do more damage to our skin (and wallet).
We are also blinded by peer pressure — one person (e.g., influencer, friend) buys it and we are compelled to spend our hard-earned money. Let me dispel a myth here — a higher price point doesn’t make the product more effective.
As an example — a leading luxury brand pitches their cream as a product that delivers targeted ‘anti-aging’ benefits using an ingredient as effective as retinol, but with no science to back it up. Read the product label and there’s one drop of this so-called miracle ingredient. What’s more bizarre is a claim that you get a re-contoured face after 2 months of use. If this was true plastic surgeons would’ve been out of business. Speaking of product testing on a sample size of a mere 30 women is appalling. The product also has fragrance, a reason enough to stay away. Hold your breath, this cream is priced well over $150 for 1.7 oz — which essentially means you’re paying for the brand and marketing.
With skin of color, we need to be extremely careful in what we put on our skin. Our skin is unique in its structure and requires gentle and effective ingredients to strengthen our skin barrier, and combat signs of inflammation, aging, discoloration.
This is the reason this blog exists — to educate my skin of color community on skincare that actually works based on science and personal experience, not hype. I deflate marketing jargon, bust skincare myths, and spotlight ingredients that can save skin of color from inflammation and hyperpigmentation.
My goal is for you to have happy, healthy, and confident skin days — every single day.