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Beauty treatments you need to be wary of as a dark-skinned woman

 Darker skin has stronger barrier function and lower pH than found in people with lighter skin (Shutterstock)

When you go online to research the benefits of new beauty treatments, you are likely to only get information on how they work on lighter skin.

The world develops more beauty products and cosmetic technologies primary for people with lighter skin, with only a handful manufacturers considering their effects on people with darker skin complexions.

The racial differences in skin properties are more than the complexion. Studies have shown that with its higher melanin content, darker skin has stronger barrier function and lower pH than found in people with lighter skin.

Thanks to these differences, and others that are yet to be known, certain beauty treatments can be harmful to dark-skinned people – they can lead to skin burns and hyperpigmentation.

Let’s explore some beauty treatments that dark-skinned women should approach with caution, and some safe alternatives to consider.

1.Fractional Ablative Laser Treatments

This is an aggressive form of laser resurfacing where intense heat is used to vaporise damaged skin cells. The treatment is effective for removing lines and deep wrinkles, scars, and skin lesions.  Dermatologists and aestheticians also use it to improve skin complexion and tone.

While fractional ablative laser treatments are effective for lighter skin complexions, they’re not recommended for people with dark skin.  This is due to the risk of hyperpigmentation and hypopigmentation – which is basically lighter and darker spots and patches on your skin.

Alternative: Microneedling

As the name suggests, this is a minimally invasive procedure where the skin is pricked with tine needles to treat acne scars, wrinkles, skin laxity, stretch marks, and enlarged pores. Its also known as collagen induction therapy.

The pricking of skin encourages the skin to produce more collagen. The idea is that the pinpricks cause tiny injuries on your skin, prompting it to respond by making more collagen-rich tissue to heal the wounds. The skin tissue that is created has even better tone and texture, giving you a firmer and more flawless complexion.

Unlike fractional ablative laser treatments, microneedling is safe for all skin types and tone, including black skin. That said, you should avoid microneedling if you are pregnant, have certain skin diseases, such as psoriasis or eczema, or have a history of skin scars.

2.Laser Hair Removal Using Certain Lasers

Laser hair removal is one of the most common cosmetic procedures in the world. During the treatment, a laser beam is concentrated onto the hair follicles to destroy and remove unwanted hair. Laser hair removal can be useful in removing hair from your pubic area, underarm, legs, arms, back, face, chin and other areas.

Laser hair removal is generally safe and effective. Unlike shaving, you don’t run the risk of cutting yourself. In addition, the unwanted hair gets thinner and weaker with every laser hair removal session. However, not all types of laser hair removal are safe for people with dark skin. Lasers such as Fraxel and CO2 take off a thin layer of skin, which can result in permanent hyperpigmentation when used on dark skin.

Alternative: Nd:YAG and diode lasers

Fortunately, technological advancements have brought lasers that are safer for removing hair from dark-skinned individuals. The two safest options for dark complexion are Nd:YAG and diode. With Nd:YAG, which is also referred to as  just YAG, wavelength targets the hair follicle without damaging the surrounding skin.

On the other hand, diode lasers deliver energy in a slower manner per pulse, leaving more time for skin to cool and not result in burning. In addition, diode has an instant cooling device that protects pigment from overheating and being damaged.

If your skin is irritated after laser hair removal treatment, apply hydrocortisone cream to soothe and resolve the inflammation. If you have acne-like eruptions, apply topical antibiotics. For hyperpigmentation, ask your dermatologist to prescribe an appropriate cream for dark spots.

 The world develops more beauty products and cosmetic technologies primary for people with lighter skin (Shutterstock)

3.Moderate and Deep Chemical Peels

Chemical peels involve the application of a chemical solution to remove the damaged top layers. The treatment is effective for wrinkles, discoloured skin, and scars. Chemical peels can be done at different depths from light to deep.

With lighter chemical peels, you may have to book several sessions to see any significant changes on your skin. Deeper chemical peels usually have more dramatic results, although they also require longer time to recover from.

Alternatives: Light Chemical Peels, Dermabrasion

Generally, people with dark skin should avoid moderate and deep chemical peels. At that depth, the peels remove skin cells from the epidermis and portions of the dermis.

Although deep peels are great at removing wrinkles and scars and evening out skin tone, they can result into hyperpigmentation when used on dark skin. It’s advisable to go for lighter peels, allowing for your skin to heal between sessions.

Another option you should consider is dermabrasion. In this procedure, a rapidly rotation device is used to the damaged outer skin layers. Done by an experienced and certified dermatologist or aesthetician, dermabrasion has been found to be safe for dark skin tones.

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