Many people make the mistake that ethnic skin is thick & oily. It is also said that skin is darker because it has more melanocytes. The skin is darker because there is definitely more melanin in it. [Melanin: The pigment that gives human skin, hair, and eyes their color. Dark-skinned people have more melanin in their skin than light-skinned people have.] Melanin is an amazingly powerful antioxidant and is unusual in that it absorbed almost all the different rays of light from red up to ultraviolet. Because of this absorption, it reflects almost no color, so we see it as very dark brown or black.

One would think that ethnic skin would be more resistant to damage by the sun, but nothing could be further from the truth. Darker skin is very sensitive to solar damage, especially the damage by UV-B which affects the epidermis or the outside layer of the skin. Typically the more sun exposure the skin will become even darker. The melanin is being used like an umbrella to protect the vulnerable DNA in the nucleus. This could explain why skin cancer is less common in ethnic skin than amongst Caucasians.

Sometimes when pigmentation problems arise, you may think this is a good time to do a peel. Darker skin does not react the same way to peels as lighter skin tones. Darker skin is more acidic, so if a peel is done, it must be the most gentle of peels. If the skin is peeled too deep there can be horrible complications from hypo-pigmentation. This is usually uncommon, but a blotchy complexion can be very obvious in dark-skinned people.

The best natural approach to healthy, beautiful skin is to feed the skin with nutrients that make a thicker skin with mild vitamin A is the most important and Vitamin C to help lighten the skin.

A huge problem is the damage that is caused to ethnic skin by skin-bleaching creams. The most popular type of bleaching cream contains hydroquinone, which is extremely effective but unfortunately has a high complication rate. It can cause permanent hypopigmentation, blotchy areas of dark and light pigmentation or, after prolonged use, it may cause Ochronosis of the skin.. Ochronosis is a severe problem because the skin is discolored yellowish by the deposits of hydroquinone crystals in the dermis. The pigmentation is irregular and often very dark black. It is advisable for all ethnic skins to avoid hydroquinone in any form. Rather use safe products containing vitamin A, C or azelaic acid and kojic acid.

You may have had the misconception that ethnic skin is generally tough. This is actually not the case. It must be treated as gently as possible. Ethnic skin reacts more than Caucasian skin and problems may leave permanent marks. This is why you need to trust your skin to a highly skilled skin care therapist to keep a beautiful even color with no blemishes.

Information and advice from Dr. Des Fernandes, founder of Environ Skincare.