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February 11, 2015

Let's talk about skin: What is Skin of Colour

Image Credits - Iman

One the things I love about beauty is that it isn’t a one size fits all type of world and what works for one woman, isn’t necessarily going to work for another.

Having your most amazing skin is about truly understanding your skin and what works and doesn’t work for it, be from your skin type to skin condition (more of this to come in the series) to your skin colour.

Whilst having lunch with a good friend the other day, who is on the complete opposite end of the diverse beauty spectrum to myself, with pale Caucasian skin and the straightest of hair ,we got talking on the differences in our skin tones and our beauty concerns.

This prompted her to ask me a question she said she had pondered about a couple of times having seen the term “woman of colour/ skin of colour”.

Her question was in two parts
  1.         Does woman of colour only refer to black women?
  2.      Does skin of colour really differ to Caucasian skin aside from the actual tone?

In the last census in 2011, 13% of the UK population identified themselves as either Asian, Black or Mixed Heritage and it’s a demographic that is experiencing the fastest growth here in the UK.

So I thought this was the perfect opportunity for a blog post to look at the definition and characteristics of skin of colour, if it differs and how this could affect your skin care routine.

First up:

What is skin of colour?

People with skin of colour are generally classified as those with non-white heritage. This includes people of Asian, Black, Mixed Heritage and Indian descent.

Does it differ from Caucasian skin?

Skin is skin so doesn’t really differ too much on an anatomical level, however there are a number of differences in the characteristics between skin of colour and Caucasian skin which can affect how your care for your skin. The most notable are: 

  1. Higher levels of melanin and brown skin pigment, which results in a medium-darker and warm skin tone
  2. More melanin (which is a naturally occurring sun block that protects our skin cells from the harmful rays of the sun) and which means our skin is less prone to sun damage and premature ageing.
  3. Increased melanin can make the skin more reactive so any kind of stimulus such as a reaction, rash; injury or breakout can increase the risk of melanin resulting in post inflammatory hyperpigmentation
  4. Larger oil glands, which equal fewer wrinkles but can, increase the number of pores and chances of breakouts
  5. Fewer visible signs of ageing or they appear much later – so little to minimal fine lines and wrinkles
  6. Ingrown hairs, which can result in bumps and scarring
  7. Possible pigmentation problems resulting in an uneven skin tone or the darkening and or lightening of the skin

Skincare tips when caring for skin of colour
  • Although skin of colour has some natural protection, no one is immune to the suns rays, so sun protection should be a must. It’s particularly helpful against pigmentation and to prevent premature ageing. 
  • Avoid using overly harsh products or over drying the skin in an effort to remove excess oil, as this can cause dead skin cells to build up on the surface of the skin which can clog pores and cause breakouts
  • Exfoliation is key for skin of colour, to ensure dead skin cells are removed to avoid a dull looking  or ashen complexion. The products that go on afterwards will also work much more effectively
  • Hydrate, hydrate, and hydrate to keep the skin soft and moisturised 

Would love to know what you think, were you aware of these characteristics and differences?

Segun. x

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