All skin tones are susceptible to UV damage, confirms a recent study by The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology. We enlisted dermatologist Dr. Barbara Sturm of Skin of Color and dermatologist Dr. Carlos Charles of New York City dermatology practice Derma Di Colore to break down the best approach to sun protection and antiaging for women of color.
AGING ISN’T JUST PHYSICAL
While there’s no denying that we’ll all age physically, there are a multitude of other factors―biological, environmental, and lifestyle related―that affect the look of skin, explain the authors of the Aging Differences in Ethnic Skin study. So while you may not be able to turn back the hands of time, amping up your skin care regimen in your late twenties and early thirties can help. “Prevention of age-related changes is always easier than treatment,” Dr. Charles says.
SUN PROTECTION IS A MAJOR KEY
The sun is the leading cause of premature aging for all complexions. “Many of the age-related skin changes that occur are secondary to the deleterious effects of daily ultraviolet light exposure,” Dr. Charles says. While some individuals with high levels of melanin mistakenly believe that melanin protects skin from the damaging effects of the sun, all complexions are susceptible to sun damage.
While melanin provides some protection, it is not nearly enough. “Daily prolonged sun exposure can still result in unwanted changes, including certain forms of skin cancer in all skin types,” Dr. Charles cautions. Susan Kaufmann’s Sun Cream Cell Protection not only protects the skin against premature aging (it provides both UVA and UVB protection), but it’s also super-hydrating thanks to jojoba oil. Best of all, it quickly absorbs beautifully with no white, chalky residue left behind.
FOLLOW A DAILY A.M. AND P.M. SKIN CARE REGIMEN
Dr. Sturm points out that “skin of color has a special set of needs due to the higher number of melanocytes.” Some of the concerns include inflammation, hyperpigmentation, and increased oil production, which, when left unaddressed, can lead to premature signs of aging. “As women of color age, there’s a predisposition to developing various forms of hyperpigmentation (aka dark spots) that can persist. Blemishes caused by acne, trauma, and various rashes tend to last longer with age,” Dr. Charles says.
Both doctors agree that a daily skin care routine consisting of cleansing, mild exfoliating (nothing too harsh!), and moisturizing will keep your skin healthy and glowing. Bolden, a brand founded by two women of color, has a clarifying cleanser that works well for deeper skin tones, and Pai’s Chamomile & Rosehip Calming Day Cream helps to fight inflammation.
START RETINOIDS SOONER RATHER THAN LATER
Touted for their ability to clear and even out skin tone, as well as stimulate collagen production, topical retinoids are your skin’s BFF when it comes to preventive care. Dr. Charles suggests adding products containing retinoids to your skin care regimen in your late twenties to early thirties. But proceed with caution, as retinoids can lead to irritation and sensitivity when used not used carefully. For a head start, try Shani Darden’s Resurface gentle retinol cream.