As the palest white girl ever, you’ll probably be surprised that I know a lot about African American skin. I think 17 years in the business helps to show I know a few things… after working frequently with African American clients to find and test techniques and equipment, I’ve learned so much about the differences and similarities in the skin compared to everyone else. The last few years I’ve been on a mission to provide more and better quality services for darker skin types, (what the industry calls Fitzpatrick IV, V and VI) so I’ve really done some homework and experimentation around what works best for the issues that African Americans have regarding their skin. It’s now time for me to share it with you…
Now I can only speak to the concerns that have been brought into my office regarding African American skin. These are the ones that I see most frequently these days:
- Acne scarring or dark spots where acne previously occurred
- Ongoing acne issues
- Pore size
- Uneven skin or darker patches on the skin
- Unwelcome facial hair (and sometimes irritation from it), especially on the chin area
- Losing hair and shape of eyebrows
- Loose skin and cellulite on the neck, arms, thighs and stomach
Services That Help
Dermaplaning For Unwanted Hair
Dermaplaning is an amazing treatment, it gently removes facial hair and is also like getting a facial because of the exfoliation involved. It’s an effective and inexpensive way to help with facial hair problems while leaving the skin soft with less texture problems. For African American skin it does an amazing job smoothing the skin and removing unwanted hair and it generally runs $55-75 at an average MedSpa. I must caution you to do your homework on your technician for this first… there are many bad dermaplaners on the planet! So read reviews before trying this service out! For more in depth information about dermaplaning, click here…
There’s also a YouTube video of someone getting it done here!
VIPeel For Uneven Skin and Acne
When the VIPeel came out it was an amazing treatment for uneven skin and acne, especially for African American skin. This service (ranging from $250-350 per peel) was the first product that I came into contact with that made a significant reduction in acne scars, live acne and uneven skin. It is important to note that many peels are not safe for darker skins so this was really revolutionary! A single peel provides beautiful results, especially when combined with a Hydroquinone or Alpha-Arbutin product used afterwards or even during the peeling. It can be done by itself or in a series of 3-6 depending on how significant the pigmentation issues are. It does have several days of peeling in the treatment but it well worth the down time! Here are a few great before/after examples.
Microdermabrasion or OxyGeneo For Mild Acne Scars/Acne Issues and Texture
If your scarring and unevenness are mild, Microderm or an OxyGeneo can seriously help out at a lower cost than the ViPeel. Averaging from $100-200 you can get great results by having a single or a serious of either of these treatments done. They both work by exfoliating the top layers of the skin gently removing scars and pigment from the top layers of this skin. I have quite a few African American clients who do this regularly to keep their skin looking its best. The other advantage is that there is no down time to this service which makes it easier to fit into a busy life!
Cartessa Vivace for Acne Scars, Pore Size and Uneven Skin
Lasers and African American skin are not always safe to put together. But Cartessa came out with an amazing laser that is effective and colorblind. This machine does a great job of smoothing rough skin, shrinking pore size, evening out the skin and tightening skin around areas like the eyes and mouth. It also has a setting that removes active acne during the treatment, helping destroy the problem at its source. You will have a single day of mild redness (most of my African American clients don’t even notice it) and fantastic results! It ranges in price from $800-1000 for a single treatment. You will see an excellent result in a single treatment but better effects from doing 2-3 in a series. Want to dive into more information about this machine? Read on here…
Laser Hair Removal
If your hair is darker than your skin color then you can have laser hair removal done on African American skin (this is true for light skin too, if you’re blond with light skin, laser hair removal won’t work.) It is TRICKY though! First, you’ve GOT to find a place with a laser designed for darker skins. There are only a few machines that qualify. I’m personally confident in Lumenis Desire, Duet and Infinity. If you’re not in the St Louis area and you want to find someone check out Lumenis’ Physician Finder. Secondly, you need to find an EXPERIENCED technician. There are a TON of places with uncertified technicians so ask to see their certificates! Finally, you will have a much safer treatment if you: stay out of the sun before and after AND pre-treat with a hydroquinone product. All that said, this is great treatment if you want to get all that unwanted hair removed. Also as a positive side effect, you will see a significant reduction in irritation in the area afterwards as well.
Are you losing those beautiful brows? Skin color has no effect on the fact that as we age, many of us lose our eyebrow hair and some of us have never had great eyebrows! MicroBlading is an amazing technique that restores the look of your eyebrows using a 3D tattooing technique that looks just like hair. Usually completed in 2 sessions done 30-90 days apart, you can truly get your brows the way you want them and keep them for 1-2 years. If you try this out, please investigate your technician first, there are a TON of horribly MicroBladed brows out there! So check out a friend that’s had it done or read reviews intensely first. Check out before/after shots and have a consultation first. You’re looking for crisp brows that look like they have individual looking hairs and that are not all blurred together. An amazing treatment for African American skin, if you’d like to read more about this service, check out this blog here.
Contoura for Permanently Removing Pockets of Fat and/or Tightening Loose Skin on Lower Face, Arms, Stomach, Thighs
A great treatment for loose skin anywhere on the body. Inmode’s Contoura is a laser that is safe and effective for all skin colors. Using radio frequency waves in a comfortable treatment with no downtime, this machine really does an amazing job at reducing cellulite and tightening up loose skin. Done in a series of 6-10 treatments plus quarterly maintenance to keep your results, it can make a huge difference!
Additionally, this amazing device can permanently kill pockets of fat on the body! Are you tired of your chin fat, fleshy arms or thighs rubbing together? This device can reduce those issues permanently with ZERO downtime! If you’d like to learn more about this treatment, click here.
There are many additional options from simple facial treatments and home care regimens that can continue to help improve African American skin. These services treat specific issues effectively and are safe for all skin colors. If you have further questions, give us a call!
-Jennifer is a blogger, mom and owner of Elemental Esthetics in St Louis, MO
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