Sun Tips for African-American Skin

How to rescue African-American skin from sun damage.

From the MORE Beauty Editors

Although black women are 20 times less likely than whites to have melanoma, and the extra melanin in darker skin tones offers some protection, women of color still need to be concerned about the aging effects of the sun.
For Darkened Facial Skin
Susan Taylor, MD, director of the Skin Color Center in New York and author of Brown Skin (Amistad, 2003), says many of her 40+ patients complain of facial skin that is significantly darker than their necks and chests after years of early sun exposure. "I recommend a daily regimen of a SPF 15 or 30 sunscreen. For women who are experiencing pigmentary changes, I recommend SPF 30 combined with a glycolic acid cream or lotion like those in the M.D. Forte line to exfoliate the stratum corneum and diminish the dark pigment. Microdermabrasion and chemical peels are a great solution for African-American or Hispanic women with this problem. I suggest in-office glycolic peels and, for sensitive skin, gentler salicylic peels."
For Hyperpigmentation
Hyperpigmentation — dark spots or splotches from UV-ray exposure — needs to be treated with a prescription for 4 percent hydroquinone, which is faster-acting and more effective than the over-the-counter variety. Caveat: "Don’t use a hydroquinone fader longer than six months, because a rare paradoxical condition of permanently darkened skin tone can happen," says Taylor. "Take a break for a month or two, and then resume treatment." She adds that the widely held idea among women of color that tanning will solve hyperpigmentation by enabling the darker areas to blend in is purely a myth.
For Dark Freckles
Another pigmentary problem exacerbated by the sun is dermatosis papulosa nigra, or DPNs, small darkened dots that form a raised freckly pattern. Taylor says, "They are benign growths that occur in women of color." While not dangerous, they can easily be removed in a doctor’s office.

First Published Mon, 2009-04-06 18:20

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