by Grace Min
Different levels of melanin in skin have their own needs & concerns for ultimate skin health. The beauty industry has an overwhelming amount of accessible education for how to treat lighter skin tones, while the melanin-rich population struggle to find the same amount of options. There are certain skin conditions that are more common in darker skinned individuals like hyperpigmentation, inflammation, sensitivity to treatments like laser, and more. Continue reading to understand why and how to treat such conditions.
First, What is Melanin?
Everyone has melanin in their skin - this is the pigment that gives us color. Melanin has two categories: pheomelanin and eumelanin. Pheomelanin is what causes skin to turn red or pink (present in lighter skin tones) and eumelanin is what makes skin darker.
Melanin protects your skin from sun damage by absorbing the UV rays and then dissipating it. The higher the melanin, the higher the protection - but only up to a certain point. When elongated sun exposure damages your DNA, repair enzymes are released. These enzymes then send signals to increase melanin production in efforts to correct the damage. This is also known as a “tan”. Different concentrations of melanin (pheomelanin or eumelanin) determine your skin and hair color.
Common Melanin-Rich Skin Conditions
People of color are more prone to inflammatory hyperpigmentation, keloids, melasma, and dyschromia.
- Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation: Discoloration or dark spots left after an inflammatory wound such as a pimple.
- Keloids: An abnormal proliferation or raised scar tissue that formed after healing from an injury.
- Melasma: A common pigmentation condition causing dark brown or gray patches to appear on the skin.
- Dyschromia: Disorder of the pigmentation in skin.
Why is this more common in darker skin types? It’s because the pigment cells in darker skin are more active & reactive than other skin types. When there’s trauma to the skin, such as acne or clogged pores, it activates the pigment cells. Inflammatory cells are closely located to pigmentation cells. This promotes higher activation for inflammation and dark spots in the areas of the trauma.
Treatments To Approach with Caution
Strong laser treatments such as Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) treatment, laser hair removal, Fraxel lasers, and skin-tightening lasers (1540 wavelength / Palomar 1540) on darker skin tones can be very dangerous and cause permanent damage. Adding focused heat from these laser treatments to skin that is naturally active to pigment will highly worsen the skin condition.
If you get curious to try laser treatments, the one recommended for dark skin by dermatologists is the 1064 Nd:YAG laser. Make sure to do a patch test first to see how your skin reacts. Always do your research and go to a trusted professional who specializes in treatments for darker skin tones. At the end of the day, different treatments should be used on a case by case basis.
Dermalinfusion, also called "The Diamond Glow" or “The Silk Peel”, has been recommended and deemed safe for both light and dark skin tones.
Dermalinfusion helps treat:
- Dark Spots or Hyperpigmentation
- Acne Scars
- Signs of Aging
Dermalinfusion technology exfoliates the top layer of dead skin, suctions any bacteria or debris out from your pores, while infusing the skin with high-grade serums at the same time. Closing the time gap between exfoliation and serum application results in optimal skin absorption and retention.
- Vitamin C Serum to help brighten up dark spots for even skin tone and texture.
- Salicylic Acid to help prevent acne.
- Over-the-counter Retinoids & Retin-A to lighten dark spots.
- Sunscreen, though this is not really a treatment, sunscreen is crucial to protect and prevent hyperpigmentation and skin damage.
Everyone has their unique skin barrier and conditions. Always consult with your dermatologist & esthetician for what is right for you.