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Spot & Acne Care for Darker Skin Tones

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Fingerprints aren’t the only bit of skin that are totally unique to us. Every single human’s skin has different and distinct needs, triggers, structure and issues. One size doesn’t fit all - deeper and darker skin tones have very specific needs from those lighter skin tones. Here, we’ve broken down how to address specific issues for darker skin tones.

How does it affect darker tones differently?

Acne can affect anyone of any skintone, but on darker skin tones, the resulting hyperpigmentation can be more noticeable - this is known as a type of ‘post-inflammatory pigmentation’. In fact, some products that are marketed to aggressively remedy acne issues may actually be making the problem worse for darker skin. Pigmentation is much more likely when aggravated and irritated by overly strong ingredients.

Darker skin is also naturally thicker than lighter skin, which means pimples are often more visible or larger in size. Folliculitis - the scientific name for white headed pimples - is more common as the epidermal layer is thicker.

What’s Post-Inflammatory Pigmentation?

This isn’t a term solely related to acne, but one that refers to the discolouration of the skin that develops after any sort of trauma. Eczema, bruises, cuts and pimples can all cause it. All skin naturally produces more melanin when it suffers inflammation, so because darker skin naturally produces more melanin anyway, post-inflammatory pigmentation is more noticeable.

What about scarring?

Some skin tones are more prone to scarring than others, and black skin occasionally can cause raised scarring such as keloid or hypertrophic scars. It’s due to an overproduction of collagen and while it’s not dangerous, it can be distressing, so it’s good to minimise the trauma to an area as much as possible with a gentle approach.

What should I be using then?

The most important thing for black and darker skin tones is to try and avoid the formation of severe acne as this is - in principle at least! - easier to treat than lifelong scarring.

It’s extra important to be kind and gentle to darker skin tones suffering with pimples and acne to avoid long term marks and scars. Acids and retinols can be dangerous especially during the day when exposed to the sun, and picking and prodding can worsen any potential infections - thus increasing the risk of scars.

Instead, go for a gentle approach to control and calm any inflammation. Our Clean Slate Cleanser uses Shea & Cocoa butters to ease away impurities, with added botanical extracts that soothe and calm skin while leaving it extra-clean. It’s also important to use an SPF on any affected areas to minimise extra melanin production that can leave you with dark spot scarring. Then, a gentle moisturiser to keep skin topped up with all it needs to stay healthy. Our Sidekick Day Cream has the alkaline power of our signature Silica Salt Complex which keeps skin hydrated and happy for up to 72 hours.

Anything else?

Don’t pick your spots! Take a look at our guide on what to do if you’ve accidentally found yourself tempted to go for the squeeze, but ideally, avoid doing this at all.

For severe scarring, clinical skin peels can help to fade dark spots as they speed up the renewal process of the skin. It’s vital you go to a specialist for this, though. Not sure where to start? Dija Ayodele set up the Black Skin Directory, an online platform that connects people of colour with skin care professionals who have specific knowledge of darker skin tones.


Hannah de Gruchy BSc(Hons)

About Author

Hannah de Gruchy is a freelancer writer who specialises in health and wellness. She has a keen interest in the biology of skin and loves using her words to help separate the real science of skincare from the pseudoscience of some skincare brands. Hannah has a degree in Human Biology and many years’ experience working in laboratories around London. Using this experience, Hannah enjoys turning complex science into interesting, engaging and easy to digest pieces to read. In her spare time, Hannah runs, practices yoga and loves cooking plant based foods.

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