As a bi-racial man of color, I've had my fair share of skin issues that I share on a regular, and one of the [major] challenges I face is finding products that are formulated for our skin type. Black skin presents a unique set of problems from ingrown hairs, hyperpigmentation, and dry skin. It's particularly important that we pay close attention to our skincare routines and the products we use because they can worsen the problem. Below I'm outlining the five common issues we face and the best skincare tips for men of color.
Shaving is something I hate to do, and even after getting many sessions of laser hair removal, I still have to shave. Because I have curly hair and sensitive skin, shaving becomes a process of preventing both irritation and ingrown hairs. After years and years of shaving incorrectly, I've learned shaving techniques and preventative tips to help avoid both.
Take a warm shower before you shave to open up your pores and hair follicles; this will help lift the hair from your skin (if you're able to, shave in the shower). One of the most important steps, men skip, is a good facial scrub. Shea Moisture has developed a natural facial scrub with African Black Soap and Shea Butter; this scrub helps eliminate built-up oil and dirt while lifting the hair follicle to prep for a close shave; you should also be applying a light shave oil before shaving.
The best shaving cream for men of color is one that is natural; foaming creams have tiny air pockets that allow the blade to directly scrape against your skin, causing irritation and bumps. The African Black Soap and Shea Butter Shave Butter Crème provides a protective layer between your skin and the razor while giving you the closest shave possible. When shaving, you should do so with the grain of your hair growth and avoid pulling the skin—the biggest cause of ingrown hairs.
Shaving should always end with a post-shave treatment. Aftershave can help calm and soothe the skin, but it can also cause additional irritation if it's not formulated for your skin. Shea Moisture's Tea Tree Oil and Shea Butter After Shave Balm helps to soothe and protect your skin, and repair razor bumps and irritation.
Ingrown hair treatment
I have suffered from ingrown hairs since I began shaving as a teen, after years of suffering through the pain, I decided to try laser hair removal. The treatments themselves worked to reduce the irritation and ingrown hairs but did not eliminate them entirely. Following the above shaving routine, combined with a clean razor designed to prevent ingrown hairs will help you; I also recommend cutting down the number of times you shave during the week. I shave twice, three times at most, and play close attention to my problem areas.
As people of color, many of us believe we don't need to use sunscreen. However, we too, are prone to sunburn and skin cancer. 63% of Black Americans say they don't use sunscreen, but research has proven that skin cancer is most likely to be diagnosed in it's later stages for us. We should be wearing sunscreen of 30 SPF or higher, and following a skincare routine for Summer months.
Hyperpigmentation is the darkening of the skin in patches due to acne, scarring, or sunburn. With a proper skincare routine and the use of sunscreen, you can avoid it. Also, avoid picking your spots or acne as this can cause scarring that leads to hyperpigmentation—I've been guilty of this, and it's [extremely] hard to get rid of. To lighten hyperpigmented areas, the daily use of Vitamin C and exfoliation will help over six-to-eight weeks but are not guaranteed. For guaranteed results, consulate a dermatologist for Retinol and Kojic Acid peels that will help even your skin tone.
Unlike other skin tones, when our skin gets dry it has a dull appearance making it look washed out and unhealthy. Hydrating your skin will keep it healthy looking and help to avoid dry, flaky skin. To keep my skin moisturized year round, I like to use a moisturizer that is oil feel because I have excessively oily skin, but if you suffer from dry skin, Shea Moisture's Three Butters Moisturizing Face Cream & Spot Corrector is a lightweight moisturizer that helps balance hydration. It's combination of Shea Butter, Vitamin E, and Songyi Mushroom also helps to even skin tone and reduce the appearance of dark spots.
Our skin is different from other skin types and it must be treated differently. Since our skin is more sensitive to irritation, I suggest keeping all of your products natural and [harsh] chemical free.