The beauty of African American skin is the variation of tone and complexions, and just like all other women, African American women have the same appearance-related concerns about aging beautifully. However, while Retinols are considered the Holy Grail of all things anti-aging skincare, Black women are right to be cautious about what they’re putting on their skin. Dr. Wendy E. Roberts in Rancho Mirage, CA is an expert in dermatology for dark complexions, including the best retinol for Black skin.
Is Retinol Good for African American Skin?
The short answer is yes, Retinol products can be as good for African American skin as it is for lighter skin tones. Retinol has a ton of anti-aging advantages, from minimizing dark spots to renewing collagen production. However, not all Retinol is created equally, and Black women should know that some Retinols can do more damage to the skin than anticipated.
Debunking the Top 5 Black Skin Myths
If you’re keen on using the best retinol for Black skin, then you need to start by understanding your skin and all of the myths that are associated with Black skincare. All too often, African American women are led to believe frank untruths about the health of their skin, both in how to manage their skin and how to preempt age-related concerns. Here are the top four things to remember about taking care of your skin:
1. You Will Have Wrinkles
The myth that African Americans don’t develop wrinkles is totally false. While it’s true that Black people generally develop wrinkles about 10 years later than their lighter-skinned counterparts, the wrinkles do form eventually.
The reason why wrinkle-formation is slower for Black people is largely due to the greater amount of melanin in the skin, which protects sub-dermal layers of the skin from certain environmental influences, such as sun exposure.
2. You Are More Prone to Pigmentation
Because Black skin is so rich in melanin, it’s a fact that Black skin is also more prone to pigmentation. Pigmentation or hyperpigmentation occurs when the skin is irritated or inflamed, as irritation encourages more melanin to the skin surface and leads to darker splotches of skin.
Additionally, because of the increased presence of melanin in the skin, Black people are more likely to develop dark spots independent of skin injury earlier in life – and for most, that means dark spots as early as age 40.
3. You Still Need Sunscreen
Although a greater percentage of melanin will protect you from surface sun damage, that doesn’t mean your skin has built-in sun protection from greater sun damage. Black people are also capable of developing melanoma from sun exposure, as well as deeper wrinkles from sun damage.
To that end, it’s vital that sunscreen be a regular feature in your daily skincare, especially when you plan to be in the sun for a prolonged period of time.
4. You Should Exfoliate Less Often
While exfoliation is an important part of any beauty routine, over-exfoliating Black skin is a primary cause of releasing too much melanin. Those with darker complexions should only exfoliate once or twice a week, preferably with a soft-bristled brush or another fine method of exfoliation, such as what can be done at a dermatology office.
5. You Should Start Thinking About Anti-Aging Treatments Now
Many Black people buy into the myth that wrinkles are decades away, but the truth is that your skin health and appearance will be better the sooner you start your anti-aging regimen. The sooner you start using anti-aging products, the longer you can forestall visible signs of aging – not just fine lines and wrinkles, but also dark spots.
Best Retinol for Black Skin
Retinol is everyone’s best bet for preventing and postponing the visible signs of aging, but if you have darker skin, then you need to be careful about the retinol products you are using. In fact, the best retinol for Black skin is typically the serums, creams, and moisturizers you will find over-the-counter. Retinol (which is a fancy name for concentrated vitamin A) sold over-the-counter has more diluted formulas that are friendlier to dark skin.
The best retinol for Black skin include:
- RoC Retinol Correxion Deep Wrinkle Night Cream
- MARA Evening Primrose Green Tea Algae Retinol Oil
- Vichy LiftActiv Retinol Retinol Serum
The key to finding over-the-counter retinol products that work well with Black skin is paying attention to the percentage of retinol present in the products. Anything that promises to be prescription strength is likely going to be too powerful for your skin. Ideally, your retinol product should also be loaded with other skin-loving nutrients. Other ingredients to look for include:
- Vitamin C
- Hyaluronic Acid
Why Retin-A Might Be Too Strong
Retin-A is one of the most common retinol prescriptions ordered by dermatologists, but that doesn’t mean it’s the best product for Black skin. Because Retin-A is prescription-strength retinol, it has a high concentration that can overwhelm darker complexion.
This is a case of too much of a good thing is bad. Dark skin can have adverse reactions to over-strong retinol, meaning dark skin might release more melanin and instead of removing dark spots, prescription-strength retinol can encourage dark spots to form.
How Does the Best Retinol for Black Skin Work?
The best retinol products for dark skin are multi-purpose powerhouses that contain a moderate amount of retinol along with other important anti-aging skin nutrients. Applied daily, retinol that works for, instead of against, dark skin will help reduce hyperpigmentation, minor sun damage, and other superficial skin concerns, such as large pores, fine lines, wrinkles, and scarring from acne.
What Are the Benefits of Using Retinol?
We already know that retinol products are a must-have product for anti-aging because the concentrated dose of Vitamin A helps encourage skin health, particularly the slowing of skin aging and the perfecting of skin complexion. Other benefits of using retinol include:
Neutralize Free Radicals
A free radical on the skin is essentially an extra atom that has latched onto the skin surface and speeds the aging process. The free radical theory of skin aging has many merits, the most persuasive of which is how repeated unprotected sun exposure can cause premature aging or “weathering” of the skin. Retinol products neutralize free radicals, basically banishing them from the skin surface.
Stimulate Collagen Production
Retinol is scientifically proven the thicken the skin surface, which means collagen production in the sub-dermal layer of skin is protected and encouraged by these products.
Collagen is a protein that supports the structure of skin; as we age, the speed at which we develop collagen slows to such a point that the skin becomes thinner and more prone to dryness, as well as wrinkle formation. Retinol products encourage collagen production, which can prevent premature aging and allows the skin to remain supple and strong.
Smooth Wrinkles and Fine Lines
The pillar purpose of retinol products is to smooth the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Retinol does this not only because of accelerated collagen production but also because the concentrated Vitamin A works from the outside to keep the skin moisturized and plush to the touch.
Blur Blemishes and Imperfections
Retinol products are highly recommended to those who are seeking to perfect the skin surface and remove superficial skin concerns, such as large pores, blemishes, and other imperfections. The reason for this is because retinol products are essentially skin-loving antioxidants that encourage a quicker turnover of new cells, which helps skin have a healthy, even-toned, and even-textured glow.
How Should You Incorporate Retinol Into Your Skincare Routine?
Incorporating retinol products into your daily skincare routine is easier than you think. Most people regard retinol products as an additional moisturizer, but it’s important to use this product during the right time of day and after a day of proper skincare. For Black skin, your skincare routine should consist of:
Your morning cleanse washes off your skincare from the night before, as well as oil, dirt, and bacteria that accumulate on the skin surface while you sleep. Ideally, your morning cleanse should consist of lukewarm water and a gentle, granule-free cleanser. Right now, there is a trend for using an oil-based cleanser in the morning to prevent skin from drying out during the day.
Daytime moisturizers should be lightweight and non-greasy, which is especially useful if you are planning on wearing make-up for the day. Moisturizing in the morning may also help protect skin from pollutants in the air.
If your daytime moisturizer doesn’t already contain SPF, then it’s best to make sure you are using a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher during the daytime. Sunscreen is necessary for any part of your body that will be exposed to the sun as well, such as the arms, shoulders, neck, chest, legs, and hands.
Your nighttime cleanse removes all pollutants gathered throughout the day. Particularly if you are wearing make-up, you might consider a double-cleanse using an oil-based cleanser to remove make-up followed by foam or cream-based cleansers to remove any remaining impurities. Your nighttime cleanser can be the same as your daytime cleanser, or it can itself contain retinol.
After you cleanse and before you apply your regular nighttime moisturizer is the best time to use retinol products. Applying retinol to the face should be done with the ring finger and patted on gently until fully absorbed into the skin. Do not rub or use vigorously.
Consider Peptide Serums
You may also consider including peptides and serums with your daily skincare routine. Peptide serums or peptide moisturizers help the skin fight against premature aging, particularly sagging. Peptides also help those who have acne-prone skin, sensitive skin, combination skin, or dry skin.
What Cosmetic Treatments Are Compatible With Black Skin?
In addition to using retinol products, there are many cosmetic treatments that are compatible with darker complexions. Although some treatments, such as ablative laser treatments that injure the skin surface, may do more harm than good, there are plenty of other cosmetic treatments that are compatible with dark skin, such as:
- Non-ablative laser treatments
- Chemical peels
- Dermal fillers
If you are interested in seeking any of these cosmetic treatments, please discuss it with us during your consultation so we can help you determine the treatment or treatments that will help you achieve all of your aesthetic goals. Additionally, we may be able to recommend skincare products or over-the-counter retinol products that are ideal for your particular skin needs.
Start Using the Best Retinol for Black Skin Today!
African American skin is uniquely beautiful – and with that beauty comes unique rules for how best to treat darker complexions. The best way to preempt the signs of visible aging is to use the best retinol for Black skin, which can usually be found over-the-counter. To learn more about the best skincare products and treatments for dark complexions, contact Dr. Wendy E. Roberts in Rancho Mirage, CA to schedule your initial appointment today!