Diversity, representation and inclusion have been ever-present topics for a while now, although many beauty brands still struggle with the idea that black women don’t come in just four shades.
When it comes to skincare, ethnicity also matters – so does your geographical climate. Unsurprisingly, African skin is different to Caucasian skin, which is different to Asian skin.
John Knowlton explains that in general, African skin types visibly age less that Caucasian skin types for a number of reasons. "Firstly, African skin is much darker than Caucasian skin and has some built-in natural protection from the sun’s rays, thus reducing the appearance of actinic ageing," he says.
He adds that African skin typically has a thicker and more compact dermis when compared to Caucasian skin. "This results in a reduction in the likelihood of wrinkle formation, which obviously causes a reduction in the visible signs of ageing. Lastly, African skin has more casual lipids and higher levels of moisture in the stratum corneum when compared to Caucasian skin, which again assists in making the skin younger looking.”
Basically, the darker you are, the longer it’s going to take for your skin to age visibly. Yes, #allthatmelanin is a valid hashtag if we are talking about looking younger for longer and we love it.
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No one can avoid ageing. You cannot anti-age. We’re all ageing and it’s a natural process we should all feel fortunate enough to not be robbed of too early in our lives.
Having said that, many of us would like to see less visual effects of this natural process especially on our skin – so we turn to beauty products and treatments that make big bold promises.
If you’re looking to deal with a certain skin issue, you should not be looking to beauty brands and their claims alone. You should look closely at the ingredients and their quantities of those ingredients in the products. Find out how active they are and what percentage of the active ingredient is actually included. Many products claim to have the good stuff but skim on the amounts, making the inclusion of the magic ingredient less effective.
When it comes to fighting signs of ageing (dullness, uneven skin tone, fine lines, wrinkles, enlarged pores), no matter what race or ethnicity you may be, we rate retinol as the number one age-management ingredient for your skin.
Retinol is basically a form of vitamin A and it’s very popular and trusted in the beauty industry. Look for a product that includes this magic ingredient and make sure you use it in the evenings to avoid sensitising your skin during the day. You still need to wear your sunscreen every morning to be re-applied every three hours while you’re exposed to the sun. You will notice a difference in the texture of your skin.
Note: If you have sensitive skin or very dry skin, you need to consult your dermatologist to advise you on whether it is safe for you to use retinol.
The concept of ‘harmful’ ingredients in cosmetic products that become known to consumers on a large scale, is largely a result of the ‘Internet age’ where information can be disseminated globally without any validation whatsoever, says Knowlton.
"Ingredients such as silicones, parabens and sulphates have all taken a ‘bad wrap’ because of Internet publicity but, in reality, all these ingredients are safe provided they’re used properly. Any ingredient, even water, when used at excessive levels may become harmful but the safety of cosmetic products worldwide is controlled with strict regulations on the inclusion levels of all ingredients and, in general, this is not something that the consumer should worry about,” explains Knowlton.
Instead of looking to only use ‘natural’ ingredients, look for ‘safe’ ingredients. The new term is ‘clean’ skin care instead of ‘organic’ skin care.