Skin specialist Dija Ayodele busts the black skin myths many of us are led to believe.
From avoiding laser treatments at all costs to regarding SPF as unnecessary, so many skincare myths are perpetuated in the black community.
Luckily, aesthetician and founder of The Black Skin Directory, Dija Ayodele, is on hand to shatter them once and for all.
Myth: Black skin doesn’t need sunscreen
The fact: “There’s a view that ‘black doesn’t crack’ and that’s incorrect,” says aesthetician and founder of the Black Skin Directory, Dija Ayodele.
“All skin, white or black, needs some sort of SPF. Different factors show age in different skin types, for example, Caucasian skin types will show more wrinkles and fine lines earlier than a black woman. It doesn’t mean a black woman won’t get wrinkles, they’ll just onset later. A black woman suffers with more mottled skin and hyperpigmentation and they are also signs of ageing. If you’ve been out in the sun without any sun protection, the evidence will show up your skin. With black women, there’s a reluctance to wear sun cream but I would always recommend factor 30 and UVA/UVB protection.”
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Myth: Hydroquinone is bad for you and bleaches your skin
The fact: “It runs through the black community that hydroquinone is bad for you and you shouldn’t be using it, however, within aesthetics, it is a very effective ingredient when used as prescribed by a dermatologist or a GP,” says Dija.
“It’s when used incorrectly, mixed with steroids and other acids, that it’s dangerous because it can bleach and it sting your skin,” she continues. “When used for treating acne, or if you were going to have a skin peel – and there are some that require you to use a melanin suppressor before you can go ahead - hydroquinone is very effective. But, if you buy it over the counter and you just start applying it willy nilly, it could be bad for your skin. It has to be of prescribed use only.”
Myth: Black skin can’t have laser treatment
The fact: “There are lasers that are suitable for black skin,” says Dija. “Years ago, it was very difficult because laser worked on the basis of attracting dark hair on light skin, which was never going to be very successful. Nowadays things like the nd:YAG laser is amazing - the technology is just so much more advanced.”
So why is there still such a fear?
“Black people were often very wary and you’d get one scary story and that would just filter through the whole community,” says Dija. “But now, laser is very common. Not all clinics have an nd:YAG, though. Sometimes you can go to a clinic and they will tell you that they don’t perform laser treatments on black skin and that often perpetuates the myth.”
Myth: Black skin needs special skincare
The fact: “There really isn’t a difference,” says Dija. “People look at skin colour as a skin type, which it is not. White skin doesn’t need any more special skincare than black skin does.”
So why is there a misconception?
“Black women have more melanin in their skin and think they need a different type of skincare, which simply isn’t true. There might be specific ingredients you need to look out for more as a black woman, for example, vitamin C and kojic acid because they are skin brighteners and black skin can become dull faster. They also suppress or inhibit excessive melanin production, including acne scars. Essentially, every skin colour can use skincare, just make sure it’s suitable for your skin type.”
Myth: Acids are bad for black skin
The fact: “Retinol is standard across all skin types because it almost turbo boosts cell renewal – it’s especially great if you’re suffering from something like hyperpigmentation and want to get rid of those discoloured cells quickly,” adds Dija. “You can also support your skincare regime with lactic and glycolic acid, as they help exfoliate the skin. The issue with this, though, is that when you use them and don’t apply sunscreen to protect your skin from the sun during the day, then you are going round in circles. Always use SPF.”
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Myth: Shea butter is the best moisturiser for black skin
The fact: “Shea butter is actually very clogging and using it as a blanket moisturiser, especially if you have problematic skin, is going to block your pores. I see people in clinic who use things like black soap, which is very drying, and then they moisturise with shea butter and wonder why they’ve got acne. One is drying out their skin too much and the other is clogging their pores.”
Myth: Black skin is oilier than Caucasian skin
The fact: “This is not true,” reveals Dija. “Oil shows up more on black skin, because the darker you are the more the shine will show. That doesn’t mean it’s oilier. Again, it’s to do with skin type. You can be black and have either an oily or dry skin type.”
Main Image: Dija Ayodele