Beginning your skincare journey can feel like diving into murky waters– so many skincare products, but which really works for me?
Every skin type is different and has some particular nuances of care, but thankfully for the sake of simplicity, many best practices for men's skin care still apply and as you get older you need to take care of your skin.
Skincare for black men comes with some specific challenges we’ll get into below, but by tailoring your skincare regimen to you, you’ll be right on that look-good, feel-good team.
The abundance of the pigment melanin gives dark skin its deeper shades. Darkly-pigmented skin comes with some serious advantages, such as a “photoprotective” effect that protects against direct and indirect DNA damage. The science is actually fascinating– recent dermatologist-backed research suggests melanin can capture free radicals before they get the opportunity to cause damage such as breakouts, ingrown hairs, inflamed hair follicles, blackheads, and pimples.
However, since the skin is darker, skincare for black men has some specific best practices.
Know Thy Skin: Dry, Oily, Normal, or Combination?
Let’s start with the basics– to determine which products will leave you looking fresh off the runway, you have to figure out which skin type you have.
Dry Skin: Can feel tight and quickly becomes flaky from dead skin cells. This type of skin must be hydrated externally, as well as internally. The best way to combat dry skin is to find the proper moisturizer, avoid products with harsh chemicals, and make sure you are getting enough water. (Tip: chapped lips are a sign for you to drink more water.)
Oily Skin: Typically appears shiny from the overproduction of natural oils, may also be acne-prone. The best solution for oily skin is finding an oil-free face wash or cleanser that will work to slow down oil production, and an exfoliant that will remove buildup. Also, refined sugar intake can be a possible cause of acne, so try to limit (or better yet, eliminate) sources of refined sugar– your body and skin will thank you!
Normal Skin: Typically, not too dry, not too oily. The best way to manage normal skin is to maintain, maintain, maintain. A simple three-step skincare routine that includes a hydrating toner is a good foundation. A gentle mask works great to detox and remove the daily grime, and it can last for days.
Combination Skin: Oily T-zone, dry outer areas. Figuring out what works for combination skin is a little tricky, as combination skin can indicate that your skin may be oily but also chronically dehydrated. Finding a versatile moisturizing regimen is critical, and like for dry skin, drinking more water will significantly help.
Wear the Right Sunscreen
While your melanin gave you the gift of natural sun-blocking properties in the form of photoprotection, you still must take adequate precautions to protect yourself from that gigantic fireball in the sky. Just imagine thinking you’re tougher than the sun!
Those with black skin equate to only 1-2% of skin cancer cases in the United States, but in our humble opinion, any bad risk that can be eliminated should be eliminated.
Moral of the story; always wear protection.
If you plan on spending prolonged periods in the sun, you need sunscreen with SPF. However, applying sunscreen in the past as a black man may have left you with unwanted white blotches. It may be confusing or even frustrating to figure out what sort of sunscreen will transparently rub into darker skin.
Thankfully, many sunscreen companies have started to consider the aesthetic nature of their formulas, so you can feel protected without appearing like a spotted leopard.
When looking for the best sunscreen for black men, take note of the following.
There are two types of sunscreen:
- Physical Blockers: contain minerals used to reflect ultraviolet rays from the sun (zinc oxide or titanium dioxide)
- Chemical Blockers contain chemicals used to absorb the sun's ultraviolet rays. (aminobenzoic acid, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, and oxybenzone.)
Out of the sixteen most commonly used components within sunscreen, zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are the only two ingredients that are FDA approved as "GRAS" - (Generally Recognized As Safe), so opt for the physical blockers when grabbing sunscreen off of the shelf.
Boost Your Vitamin C
Black men may face a higher likelihood of hyperpigmentation, or dark spots, discoloration, and scarring. However, by tailoring your skincare regimen to you, you can address these concerns.
Vitamin C serums and moisturizers are among the best treatments for dark spots and sensitive skin when it comes to skincare for black men. Vitamin C gently exfoliates your skin and can limit discoloration from previous acne scarring and razor bumps.
Finding a serum or moisturizer that contains vitamin C will gently remove the dead and dry cells from the top layer of your skin to leave your face looking and feeling so fresh and so clean.
Catch Those Zzz's
Getting high-quality uninterrupted sleep has countless health benefits - including getting rid of dark circles and eye bags. Learning how to optimize your sleep may seem simple, but with the constant stimulation and distractions of today, sometimes booking a one-way ticket to Snoozetown can be a bit complicated.
In theory, you may be aware that mindlessly swiping through Instagram stories isn't a proper bedtime story, but sometimes we don’t listen to our own advice. If you need to hear this–thirst traps and edgy memes will still be there by tomorrow morning.
Break the cycle of poor sleep and start prioritizing good sleep habits.
Establish a nighttime skincare routine. Use this as a primary “trigger” to get you into a chain of positive events that lead to higher-quality sleep.
Charge your phone away from your bed on silent. When you turn off your phone, it charges faster: the same concept applies to your body while you're sleeping. According to an NCBI study, collagen production rises during sleep, which keeps your skin looking youthful.
If you have trouble relaxing, have a cup of soothing herbal tea. Try to limit your caffeine intake after 3 PM.
Who would have thought that you can make prolific life changes while you're sleeping?
There is nothing taboo or un-manly about skincare. You can still be masculine and look good– what a concept!
Skincare for black men has some particular nuances, but at the root of it all is a desire to look your best and feel your best.
Begin by choosing the right sunscreen and investing in topical vitamin C to reduce discoloration. Figure out your skin type to create your perfect skincare regimen and pair it with a bedtime routine to develop healthy sleep habits.
These four steps will have you ready to take on the world, while simultaneously looking like you own it.