Dr Sharon Crichlow, Consultant Dermatologist at the St Albans based The Skin to Love Clinic busts some of the myths around skin of colour and offers some top tips on how to protect and enhance your skin whatever your age and whatever the weather.
It’s often said that darker skin types are less likely to burn and less affected by sun exposure. With the exception of true photo-sensitive disorders (relatively rare), this is true. That is because the melanin, the pigment that gives human skin, hair and eyes their colour, naturally provides sun protection up to the level of a factor 60 sunblock. Obviously ‘skin of colour’ spans a range of increasing pigment and in general, as constitutive pigment gets darker, the risk and incidence of skin cancer from sun-exposure reduces. However, sunlight still contributes to ageing and so sun-protection as part of a good skincare regime (with retinoids and hydroxy-acids) is still recommended, particularly to the face. SPF 30 should suffice. It’s worth noting that people with darker skin have more difficulty in making vitamin D in the less intense sunlight of Europe. Therefore, using a high factor sunblock can do more harm than provide benefit and it may be worth visiting your GP for guidance on vitamin D levels and, if necessary, supplementation.
As we age our skin naturally changes but it is frequently observed that darker skin does not wrinkle as early. Wrinkling does tend to occur later as the sun-damage which drives it, is reduced. For many people with skin of colour, an uneven skin tone is the earliest skin issue. In cosmetic circles, people talk about sun damage and pigmentation but what most people care about is that their skin colour is uniform and scatters light in such a way that the skin looks healthy and glowing. In darker skin types, any type of irritation or inflammation heals with changes in pigmentation which can then be persistent. Over-zealous exfoliation, over-drying and acne are all common causes. Of course, the underlying issues need to be addressed. There are preventative measures including topical retinoids antioxidant moisturisers with vitamin C and E, and sun protection. Superficial peeling treatments, such as a glycolic and salicylic acid peels, are also worth considering. These gentle but effective treatments use enzymes to exfoliate and refresh dull-looking skin. They also stimulate rejuvenation in the lower skin layers helping skin to look healthy. We would also suggest considering a Byonik® treatment which uses your individual pulse frequency to trigger laser light. This stimulates your skin at a cellular level allowing deep absorption of hyaluronic acid and antioxidants. Your skin will be able to reap the rejuvenating, anti-inflammatory benefits of two different laser lights; as a result, dormant skin cells are reactivated, and the skin looks brighter and fresher and need we say it – younger. This brilliant regenerative treatment also has the advantage of being suitable for all skin types.
Once the 50s are reached, loss of volume may start to manifest along with the onset of the earliest wrinkles. As we age, we lose the ability to reproduce collagen which in our youth gave the skin a plump appearance. Remedial action can be taken. For example, fillers (most often made of hyaluronic acid which is found naturally in the dermis) can be injected into areas that have lost volume to restore the contour and smooth lines and wrinkles. Platelet-rich plasma, also known as PRP, is worth considering alongside other treatments to help stimulate new collagen formation. Wrinkling can be improved with Fraxel Dual laser, Clear+Brilliant laser, wrinkle-relaxing injections and Profhilo injections.
In your 40s- 60s you may start to see the appearance of Dermatosis Papulosa Nigra (DPN) a condition of small, benign, warty lesions. If desired, these can be removed by a specialist.
The skin is our largest organ and the most exposed; it’s always a surprise that we don’t protect it more. It’s not just a matter of dolloping on factor 50 when it’s hot or only correcting a problem when it’s occurred, it really does pay to look after our skin all the year-round. With careful maintenance a healthy, even skin-tone can be achieved, and wrinkles can be delayed.
If you would like to have a chat with one of the team about maintaining a healthy skin tone, then please call the clinic to book an appointment on 01727 837429.
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