Everyone’s skin is unique and requires specific handling. Not only should you vary your skin care routine depending on whether you have oily, dry, combination or sensitive skin, but you should also consider the colour of your skin. Dark skin has different characteristics and needs compared to lighter tones, but all too often beauty articles focus on advice for light skin.
Here is what you need to know about looking after dark skin.
- Wear Sunscreen
There is a pervasive myth that people with dark skin tones don’t need to wear sunscreen. This myth is not only untrue, it is also dangerous: the Skin Cancer Foundation warns that people of colour are also at risk of getting burnt and developing skin cancer. This means that broad-spectrum SPF is essential for everyone, no matter if you have light or dark skin. Experts recommend that we all wear broad-spectrum SPF sunscreen on a daily basis. It’s important to remember that you can still suffer sun damage even when it’s overcast, so you should always apply sunscreen when you go outside, regardless of the weather.
- Moisturise Daily
Dark skin is known for being dry, making moisturising more important than ever. Research backs this up, with one study suggesting that black skin loses moisture quicker than lighter skin. Using a moisturiser for dark skin, one that is thick and emollient will also help to make sure that you keep your skin moist and luscious. You should look for moisturisers that contain active ingredients such as glycerine, urea, hyaluronic acid, or natural alternatives such as shea butter and coconut oil. In fact, most dark skin types should moisturise twice a day: immediately after you step out of the shower in the morning, and before you go to bed at night.
- Develop a Cleansing Routine
Cleansing is another important part of everyone’s daily skin care routine. For dark skin, a gentle cleanser that will not clog your pores is recommended. This is because of the dryness of dark skin, you want a gentle cleanser that will not dry out your skin. Furthermore, because you are using thicker moisturisers, you want to avoid clogging your pores that could cause blackheads or acne. You should apply the cleanser by rubbing it into the skin with clean fingertips, before rinsing it off with warm water and patting your skin dry with a clean towel.
- Quickly Treat Spots
As soon as you see spots or acne developing it is important to jump on it straight away because darker skin is more prone to scarring or hyperpigmentation. Treat breakouts with an acne cream that contains benzoyl peroxide. Make sure that you are targeted in this treatment and only apply the cream to areas with the acne rather than your whole face. Otherwise, you risk drying out the skin. A regular skin care routine that incorporates appropriate cleansers and moisturisers will also help to prevent spots and acne developing in the first place.
- Address Hyperpigmentation
As mentioned, dark skin can be prone to hyperpigmentation, where the skin becomes darker in a particular area. It is usually the legacy of inflammation caused by acne or eczema. Areas of hyperpigmentation are also a symptom of the skin condition Melasma, which is more common in people with darker skin and is caused by sun exposure, or can occur post-pregnancy or after taking oral contraceptives. Certain skincare products can help with existing dark spots – look for products with ingredients such as retinoids, hydroquinone or kojic acid.
- Get Plenty of Sleep
If you struggle to get enough quality sleep at night, you’ll feel worse for wear, but you may not know that this is also causing you to look worse for wear too. Getting enough, good-quality sleep is vital for your skin because your skin recharges and repairs your skin. Make sure that you get at least seven to eight hours of solid sleep per night. If you have difficulties getting to sleep, consider your sleep environment: make sure your bed is comfortable, quiet and cool, as these will facilitate proper conditions for quality sleep.
- Eat a Balanced Diet
Skin care is not just about what you put on the outside of your skin, but what you put inside your body too. What we eat has a huge impact on the health of our tissues and organs, and this includes our skin. Your diet needs to include the vitamins and nutrients to repair the skin and grow new skin cells. Therefore, make sure your daily food intake includes plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and healthy fats. Also ensure that you drink plenty of water: staying hydrated is essential to prevent your skin drying out, and as we’ve already mentioned dark skin is more prone to dryness.