The Anti-Aging Plan for Your Exact Skin Tone
Read more: Skin Tone Products – Top Anti Aging Products – Redbook
Dark skin has a large amount of melanin, which means it has more built-in protection from surface sun damage. As a result, African-American women generally get fewer wrinkles — which appear about a decade later than they would on fair skin. “But don’t get a false sense of security,” says dermatologist Wendy Roberts. “It’s true that our skin has some natural protection against the sun, but it’s not nearly enough to fully protect against the harmful UVA rays that cause serious signs of aging — and skin cancer.” Plus, melanin has a downside: “Our excess pigment often causes dark spots and uneven skin tone starting around the late 30s or early 40s,” says Roberts.
Your Anti-Aging Regimen
Twice a day: Use a gentle, granule-free cleanser. “My African-American patients tend to try to scrub away their pigment spots,” says Roberts. “But anything with granules, even if they’re superfine, can signal the skin to pump out more melanin if you overuse it.” Instead, she recommends a basic cleanser for your skin type. Her favorites are Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash, $5.99, for oily or acne-prone skin; Neutrogena Fresh Foaming Cleanser, $5.99, for combination skin; and Clarins Cleansing Milk, $29.50, for dry skin. Then, she advises using an electric skin brush like Clarisonic Classic Sonic Skin Cleansing System, $195, two to three times a week to exfoliate gently.
A.M. Start with a moisturizer with vitamin C. “I put all of my dark-skinned patients with pigment issues on a vitamin C product,” says Roberts. “It’s one of the best ingredients for clearing up dark spots and blotchiness.” She recommends La Roche-Posay Active C Facial Moisturizer, $49.50; we also like Ambi Even & Clear Daily Moisturizer SPF 30, $9.99.
Then put on a broad-spectrum sunscreen (if your moisturizer doesn’t already contain SPF 30). Roberts recommends La Roche-Posay Anthelios SPF 60 Ultra Light Sunscreen Fluid, $29.50. “It contains antioxidants, which help the sunscreen ingredients protect skin better. And the formula is super-lightweight, so my patients love it because it doesn’t leave a white film on the face.” Another good lightweight option: Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Liquid Sunblock Fluid SPF 55, $11.99, which uses Helioplex, one of the most effective sunscreens available.
P.M. Begin with a retinol treatment. Prescription retinoids such as Retin-A can sometimes be too harsh for African-American skin (especially for sensitive types), so Roberts recommends a gentler over-the-counter product with retinol instead. “It kicks up collagen production, breaks up spots, and even helps to control oil — without upsetting the pigment in dark skin,” she says. Her pick: RoC Retinol Correxion Deep Wrinkle Night Cream, $21.99.
Next, layer on a peptide-rich moisturizer. African-American skin starts to get lax around age 50, so Roberts relies on peptides to preemptively protect from sagging. She likes Olay Professional Pro-X Hydra Firming Cream, $42.
For extra help: Try microdermabrasion. This deep exfoliating treatment, performed either in a spa or a dermatologist’s office, uses a crystal- or diamond-tipped wand to buff away the outermost layer of skin. “It’s fantastic for African-American skin because it tackles spots and unevenness, softens lines, and decreases pore size, but the pressure of the wand is very gentle, so it won’t trigger melanin production,” Roberts says.
Products to try: Olay Professional Pro-X Hydra Firming Cream, $42; RoC Retinol Correxion Deep Wrinkle Night Cream, $21.99; Ambi Even & Clear Daily Moisturizer SPF 30, $9.99; La Roche-Posay Anthelios SPF 60 Ultra Light Sunscreen Fluid, $29.50.
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