Best Skincare Routine For Black Skin (People Of Color)

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Black is gold, black is beautiful, and it should be treated as such using the best skincare products suitable for black skin, and to achieve that, you need to employ the best skincare routine for black skin and that’s exactly what this article is all about. 

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As a black skinned-individual, before going for a skincare product, I do my very best to ensure the product isn’t only suitable for my skin type, but also for my skin race (black skin) and why’s that? It’s simply because unlike caucasian skin, our black skin easily gets pigmented either as a result of using harsh skincare products, too much sun exposure or sustained injuries. 

This pigmentation occurs as the result of the skin pigment cells producing more melanin to protect the cells in response to the cellular damage. This increases melanin production which causes the skin to tan. 

As black skinned-individuals, our melanocytes (the cell that produces melanin) are larger than that of caucasian skin. And they’re more reactive and easier to trigger. This should be a prominent reason why black skinned-individuals should be more careful with their skin, than caucasians need to be. 

Therefore, as people with black skin, or “skin of color” as some would term it, it’s highly advised not to only protect your skin from sun UV exposure by always wearing sunscreen during the day, but also mindful of skincare products you put on your skin to avoid traumatizing the skin, thus leading to overproduction of melanin — which instigates skin darkening. 

That being said, below is an articulated guide to guide you through the best skincare routine for black skin to achieve that flawless skin you crave for without traumatizing or disrupting skin pigment cells. 

🌟 Skincare Routine For Black Skin – Morning (AM).  

Step 1: Cleanse.

CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser.

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Commence your skincare routine by cleansing your face, to get rid of dirt and oil (sebum) so as to prep your skin for the application of your skincare topicals. And as an individual with black skin, you must use gentle (pH-balanced) cleansers, to avoid overly stripping your skin, thereby causing inflammatory-irritation which instigates pigmentation. 

CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser is a gentle cleanser which helps cleanse the skin without disrupting the skin’s natural protective barrier or stripping the skin of its natural moisture all thanks to its content in hyaluronic acid and ceramides that work to restore the skin’s natural barrier to help the skin lock in moisture. 

How To Cleanse. 

Squeeze out a reasonable amount of the facial cleanser, apply on your face, gently massage in a circular motion for 60 seconds (1 minute), then wash off using clean water. Pat your face with a clean towel (don’t rub), then move over to the next step of your skincare routine.

Step 2: Hydrate.

The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5.

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After cleansing, comes hydrating, to keep that your beautiful black skin intensively hydrated, and looking all dewy. And to achieve this, you need hyaluronic acid serum.  

Hyaluronic acid helps replenish skin of lost moisture, as it’s a humectant which pulls moisture from the atmosphere to hydrate skin surface which improve the hydration barrier, calm skin, and even minimize fine lines and wrinkles on the face.

The Ordinary hyaluronic acid serum pairs 2% hyaluronic acid with vitamin B5 to help supply intense hydration to the skin and keeps it looking all healthy and plump. Read the full review here

How To Apply. 

While your skin is damp, apply 4-5 drops (or more) of hyaluronic acid serum, massage until fully absorbed.

When hyaluronic acid comes in contact with water (on the skin), it optimally hydrates the skin.

Step 3: Treat.

Face Theory Regena C20 Vitamin C Serum. 

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As an individual with black skin, you may not want to put L-ascorbic acid on your skin. And why’s that? The reason is because, L-ascorbic acid is acidic in nature, although it’s a pure form of vitamin C and water-soluble (which works mainly on the epidermis layer of the skin), but its acidic and exfoliating nature may likely irritate a black skin, thus causing overproduction of melanin which can lead to pigmentation. Therefore, it’s best recommended to opt for vitamin C derivatives, which are stable and mild on the skin and also deliver the same vitamin C benefits to the skin without irritating the skin. 

Recommended vitamin C derivatives are, ethyl ascorbic acid, sodium ascorbyl phosphate, magnesium ascorbyl phosphate, ascorbyl glucoside and tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate.

When vitamin C derivatives are absorbed into the skin, they convert to L-ascorbic acid, thus delivering the same vitamin C benefits to the skin, but without irritating the skin. 

Personally I’ve used products containing all vitamin C derivatives, and I must say they all work fantastically well on my skin, but my all time favorite of all vitamin C derivatives is ethyl ascorbic acid (also known as 3-O-Ethyl-L-ascorbic), reason is because it’s both water and oil soluble and when It’s absorbed into the skin, it converts to 80% L-ascorbic acid, that’s a huge benefit for the skin. 

Face Theory Regena C20 Vitamin C Serum is Infused with 20% ethyl ascorbic acid with amino acids making it a double-up, while vitamin C helps illuminate the skin, fight free radicals and induce collagen production, amino acids helps promote hydration and strengthen skin barrier function. Read the full review here.

The Ordinary brand also has a 15% Ethyl Ascorbic Acid based serum in propanediol as a base, to promote skin brightening, collagen production and antioxidant benefits. This formula is the most budget-friendly ethyl ascorbic acid as with regards to The Ordinary’s reputable – quality and budget-friendly skincare. 

How To Apply. 

Apply 2-3 drops of the vitamin C serum to your face, gently massage till fully absorbed. You can apply more if needed. 

Step 4: Moisturize.

CeraVe Daily Moisturizing Lotion.

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Moisturization is a must in every skincare routine  to keep the skin well moisturized and in good shape. Denying your skin of moisture is like denying yourself of water. And when it comes to maintaining the best skincare routine for black skin, your skin needs intense moisture to be in good shape. And to get the most out of your moisturizer, you need to use one of the best. That’s where CeraVe Daily Moisturizing Lotion comes in. 

CeraVe Daily Moisturizing Lotion contains the combination of 3 essential ceramides alongside hyaluronic acid to deliver intense moisture and hydration to the skin. Read our comparison review between CeraVe & Cetaphil Moisturizing Lotion.

You can as well try the moisturizer from The Ordinary brand, as it contains humectants, emollients and occlusives to help enhance moisture retention in the skin by trapping in moisture which prevents moisture-loss thereby keeping the skin hydrated, plump and supple. If you’re not a fan of The Ordinary products (which is weird), you can as well try Neutrogena Hydro Boost Gel-Cream — A moisture-rich moisturizer infused with a well-known humectant — hyaluronic acid, which is known to pull moisture from the atmosphere into the skin to keep it Intensely hydrated and moisturized.

How To Apply.

Apply a generous amount of your moisturizer, massage till fully absorbed. 

Step 5: Sunscreen.

Black Girl Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 30.

Skincare Routine For Black Skin

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Many dark-skinned people believe that they don’t need to wear sunscreen during the day because their skin is melanin-protected. If you’re among this category, then emancipate yourself from this fallacious belief.

There’s no doubt that the melanin in our skin protects skin from the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Which can burn the skin and reduce its elasticity, leading to premature aging. But still, have it at the back of your mind that when the skin isn’t optimally UV-rays protected, it becomes exposed to the sun, which does the damage of burning and darkening your skin, making it look older. This scenario occur as a result of melanin in our skin responding to sun heat, which causes it to produce more melanin (as a sun defense protection), thus tanning or darkening the skin

As people of color, (who’s skin tends to pigment easily), we need to employ the sun-protection approach to avert skin darkening and other UV-exposure induced skin aging signs. That’s where sunscreen comes in. 

To create the best skincare routine for black skin, the use of sunscreen in your skincare routine cannot be overemphasized. Here on BeautySparkReview, we keep advising on the need to always apply sunscreen daily before exploring your outdoor activities because we know the damages the sun is capable of implementing on the skin. Therefore, take your sunscreen application seriously. 

The Black Girl Sunscreen is a chemical sunscreen that contains 30 sun protection factor, that’s pretty enough to protect a black skin from UV-damages. It’s also loaded with fatty-rich skin soothing and nourishing ingredients such as avocado extract, jojoba oil and sunflower oil. 

Although some people find The Black Girl Sunscreen oily, (including I myself), as this sunscreen is particularly suitable for dry skin types, due to the inclusion of fatty-rich emollients.

Therefore, if you’re on the oily skin side (like myself), then you may not like the feeling of The Black Girl Sunscreen on your skin, which makes me wholeheartedly recommend, Missha Aqua Sun Gel SPF50+, which is lightweight, sinks into the skin faster, with effortless application and doesn’t leave a greasy residue behind, which suits people with oily skin. Read my full review here

Chemical sunscreens are best recommended for people of color because it tends to absorb into the skin where it stays to absorb UV rays from hitting the skin DNA cells, thus blending smoothly with black skin, without leaving white cast behind, unlike mineral sunscreen.   

How To Apply. 

Apply a three-finger worth amount of your sunscreen on your face. Gently massage till fully absorbed. Don’t forget to extend the application of your sunscreen to the tips and back of your ears, exposed scalp, back of the neck, around the eyes, on the lips and the tops of your hands and feet. You can read how to apply your sunscreen correctly

If you don’t like the idea of applying sunscreen on your lips, you can as well use a moisturizing lip balm with SPF which is to be re-applied around every 2 hours. Here’s a list of the best moisturizing lip balms with SPF.   

🌙 Skincare Routine For Black Skin – Night Time (PM).  

Step 1: Take Off Makeup.

This is an important step during your night-time skincare routine. You need to take off your makeup using a makeup remover or makeup remover wipes. If you wore waterproof makeup, then take it off using a waterproof makeup remover. Taking off your makeup relieves your pores of clogs, dirt and oil (attached to the makeup) alongside removal of sunscreen residue too. 

Step 2: Double Cleanse.

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Double cleansing is a practice of cleansing the skin twice, first with an oil-based cleanser, then secondly with a water-based cleanser. The reason for this is to ensure a adequate cleansing, as the oil-based cleanser helps breaks down make-up, oil, sticky-dirt and sunscreen residue applied during the day, while the water-based cleanser helps rinse them all off, mildly exfoliate the skin, unclog pores and also targets acne. And also to avoid using single-cleansers which could overly strip the skin, thus causing inflammatory-irritation, which may lead to pigmentation on black skin. 

The Ordinary squalane cleanser contains squalane, which gently cleanse the skin. Squalane is a lightweight and skin-friendly oil which not only helps break down stubborn makeup and sunscreen residue, but also hydrates the skin simultaneously. 

After oil-cleansing, you should plunge ahead to cleanse the second time with a water-based cleanser. CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser is still recommended for this purpose. 

How To Apply.

Squeeze out a reasonable amount (careful not to squeeze out too much) a little goes a long way.

Gently massage it on your face for 2 minutes, then rinse off. After that, proceed to your water-based gentle cleanser. 

Step 3: Hydrate.

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After cleansing, you need to hydrate your skin to replenish it of lost moisture and prep it for the application of other skincare topicals.

How To Apply.

After cleansing, while your skin is damp (not dripping wet) apply 4-5 drops of hyaluronic acid serum, gently massage till fully absorbed.

Step 4: Treat. 

Under this step, you’ll use both retinol and tranexamic acid or alpha arbutin. 

Morning skincare routine is to protect and prevent, while evening or night-time skincare routine is to repair and correct. 

At this skincare routine stage, you have to use skincare products that repairs and correct your skin while you sleep. This is by using products that tackle premature aging signs and hyperpigmentation. That’s where retinol and tranexamic acid or alpha arbutin comes in.

Tranexamic acid and alpha arbutin are safe to use on black skin (or skin of color) because they don’t sensitize or exfoliate the skin, thus making them gentle on the skin. Therefore you can use either tranexamic acid or alpha arbutin or even both to treat hyperpigmentation (or melasma) on black skin. 

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Tranexamic acid is a new skin brightening ingredient added to the league of skin brighteners. Traditionally it’s a drug used to treat heavy blood flow during menstruation. But research studies discovered its potentials in suppressing the production of melanin and ever since then, it has been included in so many over-the-counter products for tackling skin discoloration and melasma (which mostly occurs on black skin). [1]

Tranexamic acid is synthetically derived from the amino acid lysine. Lysine is an amino acid (a building block of protein).

The Good Molecules Discoloration Correcting Serum contains 3% (previously 2%) cetyl tranexamate mesylate — a highly advanced derivative form of tranexamic acid. In combination, this formula also contains 4% niacinamide to address dull skin, minimize large pores and regulate excess oil (sebum) production. Read the full review here.

The Ordinary Alpha Arbutin 2% + HA.

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If you wish to pair tranexamic acid with alpha arbutin together to treat hyperpigmentation or melasma, then you’re good to go, as both actives combinations are safe for black skin. Not to mention the fact that hyperpigmentation (especially melasma) tends to fade faster when two hyperpigmention-targeting ingredients are combined together. 

Alpha arbutin has proven to fade hyperpigmentation, of course it has so many research studies backing it up. 

Alpha arbutin is naturally derived from the bearberry plant, it’s also found in cranberries, blueberries, wheat, and pears. Alpha arbutin prevents the formation of melanin, as it functions as a tyrosinase inhibitor to provide skin lightening and brightening effects. And when seeking for a well formulated alpha arbutin serum, the one from The Ordinary brand is a good shot.  

The Ordinary alpha arbutin serum houses 2% alpha arbutin, in combination with hyaluronic acid for skin hydration. Read the full review here

The Ordinary 0.5% Retinol In Squalane.

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Retinol is a vitamin A derivative and an anti-aging molecule that accelerates skin cell-turnover for skin-renewal to take place. This in turn reduces wrinkles, fine lines, and age spots, for firmer, smoother and more evenly-toned skin.

The skin-renewal potentials of retinol helps fade or brightens melasma or hyperpigmentation, [2] as retinol is a cell-communicator, it talks to the skin cells by stimulating cell turnover, bringing new skin cells to the surface while eradicating old or dead skin cells, this goes a long way to reduce melasma. 

The Ordinary 0.5% Retinol serum pairs retinol with squalane – for increased hydration, it also contains other skin soothing and hydrating ingredients such as; caprylic/capric triglyceride, solanum lycopersicum (tomato fruit extract) and simmondsia chinensis extract (jojoba seed oil).

With regards to how easily pigmented a black skin can be, in tackling skin aging signs, going for a much lower concentration of retinol will be the best decision to make. That’s to say, instead of going for the 1% concentration of retinol, a 0.5% is best recommended. Retinol 0.5% will also give skin similar efficacy as 1% retinol without irritating the skin.

Also going for encapsulated retinol is even better, as it’s more gentle on the skin. Encapsulated retinol is a technology that allows the active ingredients to penetrate deeper into the skin layer before being activated, this reduces incurring inflammatory-irritation associated with retinol use, thereby making the product more tolerable to the skin which definitely suits people with black skin.

And If acne is your main skin concern, you can employ tretinoin to tackle that. Ensure to start from the lowest strength (0.025%), then move up to the medium strength 0.05% (if need be). Start by using twice weekly and gradually increase days of application when skin must have acclimatized with tretinoin. Note that tretinoin is a powerful retinoid which can irritate the skin, thus causing pigmentation on black skin (or skin of color) if not rightly used. Read our beginners guide on how to use tretinoin to stay informed.

How To Apply Them. 

Apply 3-4 drops of tranexamic acid serum, massage gently till fully absorbed. While tranexamic acid has fully absorbed, If you prefer to apply alpha arbutin serum alongside with tranexamic acid, then move ahead to applying 3-4 drops of alpha arbutin serum. While you also gently massage till fully absorbed.

(that is, if you prefer to apply both tranexamic acid and alpha arbutin together). If not, tranexamic acid and retinol is just ok. 

Wait for 1 minute for the skin to fully dry, then apply 2-3 drops of retinol serum while you gently massage into your skin till fully absorbed.

Step 5: Moisturize.

CeraVe Daily Moisturizing Lotion.

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At this point, you need to apply your moisture-rich moisturizer to seal in all topicals in the skin, adequately keep the skin moisturized and also avoid moisture-loss. CeraVe Daily Moisturizing Lotion contains the combination of 3 essential ceramides alongside hyaluronic acid to deliver intense moisture and hydration to the skin. You can read our comparison review between CeraVe & Cetaphil Moisturizing Lotion.

You can as well try the moisturizer from The Ordinary brand, as it contains humectants, emollients and occlusives to help enhance moisture retention in the skin by trapping in moisture which prevents moisture-loss thereby keeping the skin hydrated, plump and supple. 

How To Apply. 

Squeeze out and apply a generous amount, massage till fully absorbed. 

Weekend Skincare Routine For Black Skin. 

Exfoliate.

The Ordinary Mandelic Acid 10% + HA.

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Weekends are for exfoliation. Regardless of your skin type and race, exfoliation is a must and that also applies to the skincare routine for black skin. 

However, as regards to the easy-pigment nature of black skin, only gentle exfoliation should be observed, that’s where mandelic acid comes in.

Mandelic acid is an AHA, a derivative of bitter almonds. It has a larger molecular weight. The molecular weight of mandelic acid is 152.1 daltons, which is larger than other alpha hydroxy acids (glycolic acid is 76.0 daltons, for example).

Mandelic acid is regarded as the most gentle and mild acid of all alpha hydroxy acids, which makes it most recommended for people with sensitive skin (just like lactic acid), but mandelic acid is the mildest.  

Its large molecular size makes it gentle on the skin, as it doesn’t penetrate deep into the skin, rather, it offers skin-surface mild exfoliation to get rid of dead skin cells (sitting on skin surface) and also fades some forms of hyperpigmentation, treats inflammatory acne and minimize skin aging-signs, thereby improving skin texture and complexion. 

The Ordinary mandelic acid formula couples 10% mandelic acid with hyaluronic acid for surface hydration, and tasmannia lanceolata fruit/leaf extract, to calm and soothe irritation associated with acid-use. Read the full review here.

How To Apply.

Apply 3-4 drops of the product on a well cleansed skin, massage till fully absorbed. Then seal in with a moisturizer. 

In Conclusion.

When it comes to black skin, one wrong approach of using a harsh skincare product could result to a lasting pigment which could take ages to treat/fade, that’s why it’s highly recommended that people of color should abstain from harsh skin care products, so as not to induce inflammatory-irritation, thus causing pigmentation or tanning. Also ensure to take your sunscreen-game seriously before exploring your outdoor activities to prevent UV damages – remember, the sun is the devil. 

Don’t forget to patch test first, before commencing any product application as this won’t only prevent allergies, but go a long way to prevent irritation.

UP NEXT: You’ve Got Clogged Pores? Here’s The Best Skincare Routine To Get Rid Of Them.

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