Skin Care Tips for Black Women

African-American Teenage Girl
Care for your skin's unique needs. (Image: LuminaStock/iStock/Getty Images)

Women with darker skin have a different set of challenges than women with lighter skin. Most skin care products are formulated to women with light, combination skin, meaning black women need to choose their arsenal of skin care products and routines carefully. From the right type of cleanser and moisturizer to the correct procedure for wearing sunscreen, black women should care for their skin's changing needs.

Cleanse Sparingly

If you have darker skin, cleanse it only once daily, according to Washing your face too often can deplete it of moisture, giving it a chalky appearance. Choose a gentle cleanser that doesn't contain drying soap. Black women rarely need to exfoliate; if you want to try it, choose a gentle formula for sensitive skin and test it on your arm or another inconspicuous patch of skin first.

Moisturize Daily

Moisturizing should be an integral part of your skin care routine. Dark skin is notoriously dry, so a thick and emollient moisturizer should be applied several times a day. Moisturizers that are considered "humectant" attract water to the surface of the skin. A moisturizer that contains glycerin, urea, hyaluronic acid or dimethicone is recommended by the University of Pittsburgh Pennsylvania Child Welfare Training Program; however, those containing alphahydroxy or vitamin A should be avoided due to their irritating nature. If you prefer natural moisturizers, consider those made with shea butter and coconut oil.

Spot Treat

Black skin isn't impervious to acne, so if you notice a few pimples cropping up in areas where your skin tends to be more oily, spot treat them with an acne cream containing benzoyl peroxide. The areas around the nose and forehead may be prone to oil, but it's important that you don't cover the entire face in acne treatment, as it could severely dry out the skin. Just dab ointment on each individual pimple.

Wear Sunscreen

Although the extra melanin in your dark skin protects you to an extent from sunburn and, subsequently, skin cancer, the Skin Cancer Foundation notes that those with dark skin are even more susceptible to the deadliest form of skin cancer, malignant melanoma. It's important that you wear sunscreen each day as part of your skin care regimen, even if you never seem to get a sunburn. Make it a habit to apply it before your makeup in the morning, and protect your entire body with sunscreen when headed outdoors. Reapply often, and don't assume that because you have dark skin, you're protected from sun damage.


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