Layering the right active ingredients in skincare routines to successfully fade black spots on skin for us women of colour has for a long time been difficult. This is simply because the majority of skincare products on the global cosmetics market are formulated for Caucasian skins. There is however a glimmer of hope.
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Rapid global demographic and socio-economic changes are galvanising the beauty industry to develop more inclusive and personalised products, as people of colour effectively represent over 70% of the global population.
Nearly two-thirds of the world’s 7.8 billion population live in Asia, with more than 2.7 billion in the countries of China and India. This is followed by Africa with its 1.3 billion population, which excludes its diaspora in Europe, the Americas, the Caribbean, and the Middle East.
How can you therefore, as a woman of colour, tap into these emerging skintellectual discoveries to incorporate the right active ingredients in your skincare routine to safely and effectively get rid of dark patches on your skin?
Understand The Melanin Production Pathway
There are two main types of melanin in our skin: a brown to black pigment called eumelanin and an orange to red pigment called pheomelanin. A third pigment called neuromelanin is present in several regions of the brain to help protect our neurons.
The first two pigments are regulated by tyrosinase, which is the enzyme in our body that is responsible for controlling the production of melanin. The ratio of eumelanin to pheomelanin determines the colour of our hair, skin, and eyes.
Excessive sun exposure, health issues, hormonal changes, skin irritations, our diet and lifestyles are also important factors which impact the production of melanin in our body.
This is why effective dark spot treatments tend to combine diet and lifestyle changes, tyrosinase inhibitors, melanin transfer inhibitors, and UV induced melanin inhibitors to safely help reduce black spots on skin, whilst preserving your natural skin tone.
Your dark spot treatment should focus on protecting you from overexposure to ultraviolet radiation (UVR) and on disrupting what scientists call the melanogenesis. This is the process by which the skin pigment melanin is produced in cytoplasmic organelles called melanosomes by skin cells and hair follicles called melanocytes.
According to skin of colour dermatologist Dr. Alexis Stephens from Parkland Dermatology in Florida-USA, “to reduce dark spots (..) you need a well-rounded anti-pigmentation skincare regimen that incorporates skin lightening agents with the proper balance of skin regeneration, hydration, exfoliation, prepping, and protecting”.
Make Some Diet and Lifestyle Changes
To fade black spots on skin, revisit your diet first to find out any food intolerance you may have. Your daily soy or dairy milk latte, jollof rice, ndole, and beef jalfrezi are all tasty. Just make sure they support your skin health by keeping a food diary for 1 to 3 months to record how your skin and body respond to certain foods.
As a person with a problematic skin and IBS, identifying my main food allergies 7 years ago has been life-changing to me.
Monitoring your hormonal health and minimising skin irritation, and excessive heat ranging from sun overexposure, blow dryers, and heat induced environments and activities are also very important for your skin health.
Finally, kiss goodbye to smoking and cut down stress by reducing as much as possible your exposure to toxic people, information and environments.
Choose The Right Cleanser for your Skin Type
Whether you are a fan or not of the double-cleansing method, cleansers are important in preparing your skin to absorb your dark spot removers. A good cleanser should leave your face very soft, supple, and hydrated.
Choose your cleanser based off of your skin type for the season, what you are seeking to achieve, and what active ingredients you are applying on next.
If you have oily or combination skin, opt for a dermatologist approved foaming cleanser from La Roche-Posay Effaclar, CeraVe, Cetaphil , or Urban Skin Rx to allow their anti-inflammatory and brightening ingredients to penetrate your skin.
CeraVe Hydrating Cream-to-Foam Cleanser
For Normal to Dry Skin
Available at Lookfantastic
Gently cleanses and hydrates, striping away dirt and make up without stripping the skin barrier. With 3 essential ceramides, amino acids & hyaluronic acid. Fragrance free, soap free, non comedogenic and hypoallergenic.
For dry and sensitive skin, go for a creamy cleanser to deposit lipids on and prime the skin for brightening active ingredients. La Roche-Posay Toleriane dermo-cleanser or Dermalogica special cleansing gel and Dermalogica Ultra Calming Cleanser are solid options to explore.
Dermalogica Special Cleansing Gel 500 ml
Available at Lookfantastic
Soap-free, fragrance-free and gluten-free foaming gel cleanses all skin conditions. Refreshing lather thoroughly removes impurities, without disturbing the skin’s natural moisture balance. Anti-inflammatory balm mint and lavender extracts soothe your skin, while natural quillaja saponaria gently foams away toxins and cleanses debris.
Use Gentle Exfoliators
Exfoliate 1-3 times a week depending on your skin type and sensitivity, and always at night. This can help unclog your pores and gradually fade black spots on skin to make your moisturisers work better.
Depending on your skin sensitivity and tolerance level, choose between clay masks and chemical exfoliants such as enzymes and acids.
To avoid irritation on darker skin tones or exfoliating newcomers, Dr Alexis Stephens recommends enzyme-based exfoliators over acids, because they are much gentler on the skin.
Origins Never A Dull Moment® 125ml
For all skin types
Available at John Lewis
Smooth away bleak looking skin. Exfoliator, with finely ground papaya extract, apricot and mango seeds, dissolves lackluster cells and gobbles them up with no irritation, polishing skin to perfection. Skin looks radiant, youthful, and untarnished by time or the elements.
However, clay masks are considered to be the most gentle way of exfoliating. But it’s important to understand your skin type when choosing the right clay for you.
Bentonite clay is the strongest, perfect for oily and acne prone skin types, kaolin is recommended for normal skin, while rose clay or green clay are great for sensitive skin.
For my own skincare routine I use Origins Never A Dull Moment once a week and Argiletz Laboratoires Ultra-Ventilated Green Clay 1 to 2 times per week, depending on my skin health. I infuse my DIY clay mask with filtered water, 2 drops of Tisserand lemon essential oil and 1 drop of Tisserand orange essential oil.
Always follow up exfoliation with a toner, a serum, and a moisturiser.
Use Actives Aimed at Reducing Melanin Production
Add one tyrosinase inhibitor to your morning and evening skincare routine after toner to slow down the melanin production process in your targeted dark marks area.
Serums or creams containing active ingredients such as azelaic acid, alpha arbutin, vitamin C (L-ascorbic acid), mulberry extract, or tranexamic acid, licorice root extracts should be considered.
The Ordinary Alpha Arbutin 2% + HA
Available at DECIEM
Alpha Arbutin reduces the looks of spots and hyper-pigmentation. It’s used at a high 2% concentration versus a standard concentration of 1% and supported with a next-generation form of Hyaluronic Acid for enhanced delivery. Alpha Arbutin is much stronger in effect than Arbutin or Beta Arbutin.
Include a melanin transfer inhibitor to your evening skincare routine 1 to 2 times per week to prevent melanin transfer from melanocytes to keratinocytes. Active ingredients such as niacinamide, bakuchiol, the next-generation Vitamin A retinaldehyde (retinal in short form), and unfermented and unpasteurised soy are the way to go.
The Inkey List Tranexamic Acid Night Treatment, The Ordinary Azelaic Acid Suspension 10%, The Inkey List Bakuchiol Moisturiser, and Aveeno Positively Radiant MaxGlow Infusion contain the aforementioned melanin active ingredients.
Apply a Moisturiser with Unsaturated Fatty Acids
Moisturisers with unsaturated fatty acids such as alpha-oleic acid, oleic acid, and linoleic acid can help fade dark patches on skin due to their ability to decrease tyrosinase production.
Consequently, opt for either organic shea butter, organic argan oil, organic marula oil, Paula’s Choice Omega+ Complex Moisturiser, or Skinceuticals Daily Moisture.
Invest in a Mineral Sunscreen for People with Skin of Colour
Mineral sunscreen, also known as physical sunscreen is better for your skin, because it includes zinc oxide and titanium oxide active ingredients which form a barrier on the surface of the skin that helps reflect UV rays away from the skin.
Biossance Squalane + Zinc Sheer Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30 is worth exploring. You can find more sunscreen options in two articles I did recently, namely:
If at home treatment fails, book a dermatologist appointment to explore other anti-pigmentation treatment options to help fade black spots on skin. These include amongst other gentle chemical peels, mesotherapy with tyrosinase inhibitors, prescription pills, and aerolase laser treatments.
And if you can afford it, visit a dermatologist every two-months for a no-nonsense technologically advanced facial treatment to support your effort in fading dark patches on skin.
- Reduce inflammation first with a healthy diet and lifestyle before investing in an anti-pigmentation treatment to yield positive outcomes
- Keep your dark spot treatment simple and limit anti-pigmentation active ingredients to 3 in your skincare routine
- Be open to trials and errors – as our skin is so individualised that a skincare treatment that works for one person may not necessarily be the right solution for you
- Be consistent and patient with the dark spot treatment that works for you and revisit it as your health, diet and lifestyles evolve
I hope you learned something useful that could support you in fading black spots on your skin. And please, share it with your friends, and connect with us on Pinterest or Instagram. Until then, see you next time my lovelies!
This blog post is not intended to provide diagnosis, treatment, or medical advice in any form or shape. Content provided on this platform is strictly for informational purposes only. Please consult with a physician or other healthcare professional regarding any medical or health-related diagnosis or treatment options you might have. Information on this platform should not be considered as a substitute for advice from a healthcare professional. The statements made about specific products throughout this article are not to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease.