All skin, regardless of skin tone, has the same fundamental needs. Sun protection, antioxidant support, cell turnover, collagen synthesis, and hydration are essential.
However, a key difference between skin types is that melanin-rich skin is prone to hyperpigmentation. In the past, this has created a major hurdle in finding the best skin treatment for melanin-rich skin.
Not anymore. Let's look at what has changed by reviewing two of the best professional skin treatments for people of color.
But first, what is melanin?
Melanin is a type of pigment that gives colour to a person's hair, skin and eyes.
Regardless of race, all people have melanin in their skin, which determines how light or dark their skin will be. The difference in skin colour is how large and how numerous the melanocytes (cells are that contain melanin). The larger and denser the cells, the darker the skin.
Apart from giving colour to your skin, melanin's main job is to protect the skin when exposed to the sun. More melanin in your skin generally means better protection from sun damage that leads to premature ageing and skin cancer.
Note it's "better protection" and not "complete protection" This is not a free pass for not wearing a quality non-comedogenic, broad-spectrum sunscreen. On the flip side, darker skin is also more prone to hyperpigmentation.
Because of this one crucial difference, people of colour have felt excluded from the beauty and skincare market for decades. But if the current rising trend of "melanin-rich" skin treatments and cosmetic brands is to be believed, that is now changing. Some would argue this is long overdue.
It's an area that we pay a lot of attention to here at Dr Aesthetica, as we aim to make our offerings as inclusive as possible.
We are committed to ensuring we offer no-surgical cosmetic services that are equally safe and effective for patients with darker complexions.
Not all cosmetic treatments all the same
Professional skin treatments are very different from treatments you do at home or those offered at the spa.
A professional skin treatment is a customisable skin treatment usually performed in a cosmetic clinic by a formally trained practitioner (dermatologist, plastic surgeon, medical aesthetician, etc.).
It often includes a) a personalised skin analysis to reveal the underlying skin problems, (b) advanced treatment modalities such as energy therapy and medical-grade actives.
The 'most risky' cosmetic skin treatments are those that rely on some kind of "controlled injury" as a method of skin renewal. Injectables such as BOTOX® and dermal fillers have long been proven to be safe for all skin types.
However, precautions should be taken with the first group as they carry a greater risk of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.
No matter which treatment you are considering, do not be afraid to ask for before and after photos of other patients, especially those with a similar skin tone to yours. Seeing the results first-hand will help you learn more about the impact of the procedure on your skin type (and the practitioner's experience).
Unfortunately, there is no 100 percent guarantee that you will not experience a side effect from any of the cosmetic treatments on this list.
Also, some patients are more prone to pigmentation problems than others. It is important to disclose your skin history - sure to tell your provider if you are prone to discolouration, PIH, or other skin problems.
Professional Skin Treatments For Melanin-Rich Skin
1: Radiofrequency skin tightening
What it is: Radiofrequency skin tightening (RF) is a non-invasive, non-surgical treatment to rejuvenate and tighten sagging skin. Radiofrequency typically uses bipolar RF energy at a specific wavelength.
The radiofrequency energy generated by an RF device is converted into heat that gently warms the deeper layers of the skin. This in turn stimulates collagen, which leads to the contraction and remodeling of the skin tissue.
What makes RF suitable for melanin-rich skin: It is true that some energy-based treatments pose a greater risk to darker skin types. This is because these treatments target melanin in the epidermis (where melanocytes are located).
This is not the case with radiofrequency skin tightening. In fact, RF bypasses the epidermis completely, which largely eliminates the risk. This makes RF safe for all Fitzpatrick skin types.
There is one caveat when it comes to RF treatments and dark skin: some RF devices also use laser technology to complement the RF. While this is fine for fair skin, it could be harmful to darker skin tones. So always check with your provider what kind of RF device they use and how safe it is for your particular skin type.
What it is: Microneedling is a treatment that uses a sterile device with a network of super-fine needles to make controlled injury to the skin at a customisable depth. This triggers the body's healing response.
As a result, collagen and elastin are strengthened and cellular turnover is stimulated. The treatment has proven effective for a number of dermatological conditions, including scarring, melasma, melanosis, dull skin and acne vulgaris.
What makes microneedling suitable for melanin-rich skin: Studies like this one have shown that microneedling carries minimal risk of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. Especially when performed with top-of-the-line microneedling devices like the SkinPen, which allow the practitioner to make even greater control.
The result is a more precise treatment that causes minimal damage to the epidermis.
There is one caveat with microneedling as well: care must be taken not to be too aggressive as this can cause excessive irritation. Your practitioner should have a delicate touch and you should be prepared to do the treatment in several sessions rather than aggressively proceeding only once.
Book Your Treatment Today
There's no doubt that RF skin tightening and microneedling can provide excellent results when properly performed. Fill out a consultation form here, or call us at 0121 769 0242. We will be happy to answer any questions you may have if you are considering getting any of these treatments.
And always remember that the ideal skincare regimen should not be one size fits all. It needs to be tailored to fit you and not the other way around.