Acne & Skin of Color

Acne & Skin of Color

Acne is a chronic inflammatory disorder so common and annoying that we seek professional help for it. When our hair follicles get clogged with sebum, dead skin cells, and bacteria, acne becomes a certainty.


Nobody is exempt from acne. Not even us at LETELLIER. Symptoms and treatment options don’t change whether someone has ethnic or caucasian skin. However, certain factors - such as pore size and sebum production - differ in ethnic skin. These factors mean people of color are more susceptible to PIH (post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation).


The Relationship Between PIH & The Fitzpatrick Scale


Larger pores, typically found on people of color, produce more sebum. Yet, pigmentation is the main difference skin-wise between African-Americans and Caucasians. Those of us with dark(er) skin tones have more melanin. More melanin = greater risk of PIH.


The Fitzpatrick Scale classifies skin types (I-VI) based on their reaction to UV rays. For example, a Type-I could be someone with very fair skin that always burns. A Type VI skin type usually belongs to someone of African or Indian descent and rarely burns. PIH can last for months in skin types V and VI, even after the breakouts have cleared.

How Ethnic Hair Care Impacts Acne 


The first step in treating acne is noticing how we, people of color, care for our hair because it impacts our skin. Ethnic hair is more delicate and drier than caucasian hair. That’s mainly why we use thicker conditioners and oils.


Unfortunately, these rich emollients contain comedogenic ingredients that clog and irritate our pores, especially on our foreheads and temples. 


If you’re a person of color and use products designed to moisturize and protect your hair, make sure they are skin-friendly as well. Using a multi-benefit oil like The Moon Shine to treat your hair will help nourish your skin, too, as it contains shea butter, known for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidants benefits. It’s also non-comedogenic, so it won’t clog your pores. 


Acne Treatment for Ethnic Skin


Darker skin tones are prone to dry/oily skin. (I’m personally on the oilier side facially and have had a dryer scalp all my life.) We also dry quickly and frequently. For most of us, getting rid of blemishes is why we treat acne, but addressing PIH without causing more inflammation is also crucial. Since irritation can lead to further hyperpigmentation, finding proper acne solutions shouldn’t be based on whether our skin is oily or dry but whether we have sensitive skin. 


Vitamin A is an excellent option for people of color because it suppresses sebum production, decreases acne inflammation, plus combats PIH. An anti-inflammatory serum like The Lemon Drop contains low concentrations of vitamin A that work with potent antioxidants like green tea to balance oil production, prevent dryness, and reduce free-radical damage.


If you have ethnic skin, try using gentle peeling agents like glycolic or salicylic acids to help treat blemishes and PIH simultaneously.


Glycolic acid (found in The Moji Toner) is a naturally-occurring alpha-hydroxy acid that helps improve skin texture, reduce hyperpigmentation, and minimize pore size.


Using a cleanser that contains salicylic acid can assist in balancing oil production and reducing blemishes without irritating your skin barrier.


At LETELLIER, we recognize that people of color need acne solutions too. We offer several irritation-free solutions to reduce acne lesions and treat hyperpigmentation. It’s also an inherently personal choice since I’m both Black and our co-founder.


Got questions? Or want a more customized approach to treating your acne? Holler at us here.

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