May 22, 2022 ۰ 5 min read
Let's Talk Skin...
We all know that there are four basic skin types: normal, oily, dry, and combination (at a more granular level there are 16 skin types based on 4 macroscopic properties). And obviously we should treat each skin type differently than we do others. I mean, you wouldn’t use an oily skincare routine on someone who has dry skin, right? So why are we treating skin conditions on different skin types exactly the same? To answer my own question, I literally don’t know!
But I do know how each condition shows up differently on the skin depending on things such as melanin, hormonal balances, lifestyle changes, etc. There are a few major skin conditions that I wanted to dive into today that I think are the most common, how they show up on different skin, and how to treat them accordingly.
Before I lose you, let’s get “sciency” for 30 seconds and talk about what hyperpigmentation is and isn’t. Hyperpigmentation IS a harmless condition where the skin begins to produce deposits of a higher level of skin pigmentation (color). It is completely harmless though it can be alarming if you’ve never had it before and one day you wake up with 10 new freckles on your face during the summer.
Hyperpigmentation IS NOT harmful and can fade over time on its own (6-12 months!). Especially if it was caused by just getting a little too much sun last summer. It IS NOT always a sign of bad skin health though it can sometimes be an indicator of more serious underlying skin conditions and illnesses that could be cancerous. So it’s important to know how to distinguish between those summer freckles and a serious warning sign of harmful skin conditions.
Hyperpigmentation affects different skin types differently. For example, darker skin has a lot more pigment and melanin which subjects it to higher risk of developing hyperpigmentation while paler skin shows sun damage a lot more than darker skin.
This means if you have darker skin, we recommend incorporating a step into your skincare routine that’ll combat the effects of hyperpigmentation which can show up in various colors such as tan, beige, dark brown, purple, black, etc. We suggest regular (daily) use of sunscreen (Neutrogena SPF, $7.99) or a chemical peel (The Ordinary AHA Peeling Solution, $8) that will naturally exfoliate that top layer of your skin known as the epidermis. Skin-lightening can also be a method to lighten hyperpigmentation though it can lead to discoloration on darker skin.
Skin Lightening products that can help kick start the hyperpigmentation fading process are retinoids such as adapalene, niacinamide, and vitamin C. Peeling solutions that contain BHA (salicylic acid) are ideal for treating hyperpigmentation caused by sun damage as well as acne while ingredients such as AHA (alpha hydroxy acid) are used as exfoliants.
2. Sun Damage
Some misconceptions regarding sun damage are that the darker your skin complexion then the less maintenance it can be. For example, if you have darker skin you don’t need to apply sunscreen as much as a person with a lighter skin complexion. False! Though yes, sun damage can be more noticeable on lighter skin, we’re all at risk of facing the harmful effects of the sun.
Some effects caused by sun damage include:
- Fine lines
- Pre-cancerous/ cancerous lesions (due to prolonged sun exposure with no preventative measures)
You can counteract the effects of sun damage by incorporating retinol (The INKEY List Retinol serum, $10.99) or vitamin C (Paula’s Choice Retinol Skin). You can also reverse any coloring issues caused by sun damage by using an exfoliating peeling solution whether it is a mask, serum or cream!
3. Psoriasis & Eczema
Psoriasis is more common in Black skin than other skin types and can possibly be mistaken as hyperpigmentation because of the color that it takes on. Psoriasis in Black skin can come off as having a purple-grey tone to it though the key factor in spotting psoriasis is the texture. Psoriasis will usually have a scaly to rough top layer that can also cause itchiness or irritation. Hyperpigmentation will feel soft to the touch (think of it more like a freckle!).
Psoriasis on pale or lighter skin will usually show up as having a red or pink tone to it and, though psoriasis is more common in Black skin, it’s a lot more noticeable on paler skin because of the dramatic contrast in color.
Eczema seems to affect all individuals almost equally with 1 in 10 people developing some sort of eczema whether mild or severe during their lifetime. However, it does seem to affect adult females slightly more. There are certain factors that can put you at a higher risk such as genetics or asthma. If you also suffer from environmental and/or food allergies, you might also have a higher chance of experiencing an eczema flare up (and based on my personal luck is always at the most inconvenient times!)
But worry not for treatments to treat psoriasis and eczema can be found over the counter and are readily accessible. Some include:
- Steroid creams (corticosteroids) such as cortizone-10
- Aloe vera gel
- Intense moisturizing cream such as CeraVe Moisturizing Cream
- Petroleum Jelly
Unfortunately, these skin conditions can leave scars or marks. It’s best to treat the skin with some of the recommendations made above such as an exfoliating mask or serum! And most importantly, remember that these skin conditions are natural and nothing to feel uneasy about. Own your skin!
Raquel Guiza is
Digital Marketing Manager,
and writer-contributor to
Skin Care IQ.