Navigating the skincare market as a Black person is often complicated and strenuous. Hyperpigmentation, the number one skin concern for black people, can be especially hard to navigate. Hyperpigmentation varies from person to person and is long-lasting; dark spots from acne scars orpost-inflammatory hyperpigmentation can take years to naturally fade while hyperpigmentation from melasma (hormonal discoloration), eczema and sun damage can last up to a decade. Hyperpigmentation manifests in different ways depending on the person; Black skin can experience circular markings or large patches of skin that range significantly in colour, typically around the mouth, cheeks and jaw. Since hyperpigmentation is exasperated by the amount of melanin a person produces, treatment also differs depending on a person’s skin type and colour.
Another remedy for hyperpigmentation is to use exfoliation, which can be the skin’s best friend due to its ability to prevent and treat hyperpigmentation. Exfoliation allows for a quicker and higher skin cell turnover rate; however, over-exfoliating can actually worsen hyperpigmentation. To avoid causing additional, unsolicited hyperpigmentation, use a chemical exfoliant like glycolic or lactic acid, instead of a physical exfoliant, to prevent excess skin damage altogether. Other treatments that improve skin cell turnover are retinoids such as retinol, and tretinoin. Retinoids can be bought over the counter in low doses, and/or can be prescribed by a dermatologist.
While hyperpigmentation is different for everyone, even within the Black community, there are preventative and curative measures that one can take to treat it, such as limiting sun exposure or leveraging sunscreen, Vitamin C, Retinoid or exfoliation treatments. While these measures help, they are not perfect. As a result, Black people have been working to create beauty brands of their own that address the needs that the industry fails to meet. Issues that plague the Black beauty community, such as hyperpigmentation, are nuanced and specific to the Black experience; as a result, it is necessary that skincare products reflect our demands in order to claim a fully-inclusive beauty experience.