Guidelines for Repairing Ingrown Hairs, Discolorations and Ashy SkinPrintable Version
WHILE MOST SKIN problems affect all ethnicities equally, some problems tend to affect African-American skin differently or more frequently. These differences suggest that black men should pay special attention to their skincare routines, especially since some products can even discolor or damage darker skin tones.
1. Ingrown hairs. While most men have suffered from ingrown hairs or razor burn, black men are especially prone to this condition because of their highly-curved body hairs. Because the hair tends to be more tightly curled, it has a greater chance of curving and growing back into the skin after shaving. This causes painful shaving bumps and irritation on the face and neck, and can only become more aggravated with further shaving.
Although it’s a common problem, there’s no need to simply accept it as a natural danger of shaving: by keeping skin exfoliated, changing your razor after 4-5 uses and following with a product with dermatologically-active ingredients, you can greatly reduce the occurrence of ingrown hairs. If you find yourself suffering a great deal from these skin irritations, consider cutting down on the amount of times you shave, since frequent shaving too close to the skin will trap hairs inside the follicles. For more information on diminishing and preventing razor burn and ingrown hairs, check out A Definitive Therapy for Ingrown Hairs or Razor Bumps.
2. Dark Spots and Hyperpigmentation. Dark areas can often appear on African-American skin when scarring occurs, whether from cuts, acne or burns. These dark spots and uneven skin tone (called “hyperpigmentation”) will usually fade over time, but some ingredients can definitively help even skin color and promote a smoother surface. Retinol, Kojic Acid and Vitamin C are used regularly by dermatologists and skincare professionals to fade dark areas and balance skin tone. These products often take 4-8 weeks to see maximum results, and they have been known to cause irritation in some men, so you should consult a dermatologist if you have sensitive skin or if irritation persists.
Regular, gentle exfoliation is also a good way to improve skin tone because it removes the top layer of dead skin cells and allows new, healthier cells to appear. By removing the upper layer, it also allows ingredients such as Retinol to more effectively treat the skin. When using a product such as this, make sure you protect your skin well from the sun’s rays, since sun exposure stimulates pigment production and can re-darken areas. Find ways to Improve Skin Tone and Reduce "Age Spots" (Without Plastic Surgery) in our Tips & Advice column.
3. Dry, Ashy Skin. Black men with very dry skin often have an ashy or gray appearance, so it’s important to keep skin well-moisturized and reinforced with nurturing vitamins to promote a smoother, healthier look. Because hot water can pull moisture from the skin’s surface, avoid long, hot showers and take quick lukewarm ones instead. Wash with a gentle liquid cleanser instead of bar soap (since bar soap can actually dry out skin), and put an active moisturizer on within five minutes of stepping out of the bathtub. This will lock moisture into your pores, promoting a smoother, more even appearance. Use an oil-free moisturizer that contains nutrients like Aloe, Hyaluronic Acid, Squalene and Vitamins A, D, and E, and don’t forget about the delicate area around your eyes. Visit our article Daily Skin Care for Men for tips and techniques on the best skincare routines.
4. Sun Protection. A common misconception about darker-toned skin is that it cannot burn or be damaged by the sun. Although African-American skin contains more melanin (skin pigment) which offers greater protection against the sun’s rays, it is still at risk for a number of sun-related diseases. In fact, African-American men are often at a higher risk because it is often harder to detect changes in skin marks or discolorations. This means it may take longer for a person to seek treatment, by which time the damage could have spread even further.
Protecting your skin from the sun is a serious business, but it can be as easy as using a sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher that offers protection from both UVA and UVB rays, and reapplying it often. Our article, Sun Care, offers more invaluable tips on how to keep your skin healthy and burn-free, no matter what the season may be.