Ethnic skin or skin of color is a growing area of interest in the dermatology and beauty industries because of its unique structure and function and the strong need to address those concerns of ethnic skin and commonly found disorders. Persons with ‘skin of color’ who fit within the Fitzpatrick scale of skin types IV-VI are comprised of African/African-Americans, Hispanics, Asians, Pacific Islanders, Native Americans, and Middle Easterners. Within the U.S. alone nearly half of the population will be ethnic by the year 2050. Ethnic skin is unique for the following three reasons:
The Melanin Connection
Everyone has the same amount of skin cells called melanocytes which contains the substance that gives us our skin pigment called melanin. Ethnic skin ranges in color from very light to a dark brown. Those with light skin tones have pigmenting skin cells which are small in size and spread apart as compared to those with dark skin whose cells are much larger and more clustered. Melanin acts as a natural sunscreen for ethnic skin.
Black Don’t Crack
The old saying “black doesn’t crack” is often used to describe how people of color age very slowly and usually do not show their age in appearance. Research has shown that based on the structure of ethnic skin it is much thicker and the skin fiber cells are much larger. Fine lines and wrinkles are very minimal in ethnic skin.
Pigmentary Disorders are Common
Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIH) is a pigmentary disorder in which the skin darkens after an inflammatory response or injury occurs in the skin cells. Melasma “mask of pregnancy ” or chloasma is another pigmentary disorder that causes skin darkening and is commonly seen in ethnic women, especially amongst Hispanic and Asian women. Vitiligo is a hypopigmention disorder where there is a loss of pigment in the skin.Ethnic skin often has pigmentary disorders such as hyperpigmentation and melasma, as well as depigmenting disorders such as vitiligo.
Every ethnic group exhibits these diseases differently and special care must be taken into consideration when using cosmetic or prescription products to treat them.
In future posts, I will unfold the mystery of ethnic skin and hair to give you a better understanding of structure and function, commonly found disorders in ethnic dermatology and the cosmetic science behind treating skin and hair issues of ethnic men and women. I will also discuss how culture and psychosocial issues influence the treatment of ethnic skin and hair disorders.
What are your concerns about ethnic skin and hair?
About Eunice Cofie
Often noted as the modern-day, Madame C.J. Walker, Eunice Cofie is also making great strides in the cosmetic and pharmaceutical industry. With her entrepreneurial spirit and her passion to create beauty products, she is the President and Chief Cosmetic Chemist of Nuekie. Her company specializes in the research and development of dermatological products for ethnic skin and hair. Eunice has won many awards and accolades, including honors by the World Economic Forum as a Young Global Leader.
Eunice is a sought after speaker and has spoken at various conferences in the medical, beauty, science and technology industries. She has completed the Leon County EDC Entrepreneurial Excellence Program and she currently serves on the board of directors for DGI Inspired Foundation and is a member of Leadership Tallahassee Class 29. You can check out her blog at www.nuekie.blogspot.com and also learn more about her company at www.nuekie.com.