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Skin of Color

We human beings come in a delightful rainbow of colors, from porcelain to pink to olive and brown to darkest ebony. We are all "people of color," and we have the innate intelligence of our bodies to thank for giving each of us the perfect skin tone for our native habitat. Skin of color is now the accepted way that leading dermatologists and surgeons refer to the variation in skin tones we see in our ever-changing world. In fact, there are at least 7 different skin tones ranging from near ebony to light beige. Whether from the Mediterranean, African, Asian, South Pacific, Latin, or Native American origin, skin of color has more of the pigment called melanin.


Is skin of color at different risk for certain skin conditions?

Based partially on our melanin production, our skin can react to various diseases, injuries, and exposures differently. This is of particular importance if you have acne, undergo surgery, or have sensitive skin. The personal approach to caring for your body’s largest organ – your skin! – starts with understanding why and how it’s unique.

A personal approach to skin care.

Yes, we all have skin, but our outer covering is as individual as we are inside. So a personal approach to caring for your skin is what is needed. Here are some tips on how to nurture and protect skin of color:

  • Moisturize your skin daily and after every hand washing, shower, or bath to prevent dry, flaky (or "ashy") skin. If you notice that your skin is sensitive, be sure to read the labels of skin care products and avoid those with dyes, lanolin, phthalates, and fragrance.
  • Protect with sun block / sunscreen and clothing to avoid skin cancer. Even though skin of color may not burn or tan as easily as light skin tones, there is still a risk of developing skin cancer. Also, UV rays from the sun accelerate aging. If you know you are going to be in the sun (even on a cloudy day or while skiing), be sure to protect your skin from damaging UV rays with sunscreen and sun block.
  • Did you know that your response to stressful life situations can actually affect the condition of your skin? Take steps to manage your stress responses such as deep breathing, meditation, mini-naps, or communes with nature. Empower yourself to enjoy good health that radiates from within and on the skin.
  • The way you shave your beard or bikini area may be the reason you get so many razor bumps. From the razor you choose to the products you use, you may be to blame for this annoying condition that many people of color deal with. Here’s tip # 1 – go with the grain, not against it.
  • Skin of color often shows increased sensitivity to chemicals and fragrances. If you notice that you get an itchy rash or bumps after changing soap, laundry detergent, or lotion, look for fragrance-free products with a very short list of ingredients.


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