The beauty industry has undergone a very necessary cultural shift as it’s become more inclusive than ever before. Cosmetic brands are releasing foundation shades to match a multitude of skin tones (like MAC Cosmetics’ Studio Fix line with more than 60 shades). So while the beauty industry is using models that defy the typical prototype in age, gender, size, and race, the dermatology industry is a little slower to catch up.
Noninvasive skincare procedures have been around for decades but many of the most popular ones – treatments that use lasers to resurface and brighten skin and remove hair – have put women of color at risk of hyperpigmentation and scarring because they target pigment and emit pulses of heat. So, while the dermatology industry plays catch up, we’re going to break down what cosmetic procedures work well for women of color, what doesn’t, and when to be wary. Let’s get into it!
Chemical peels are great for improving the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, sun damage, skin discoloration, and some acne and scarring. During a chemical peel, a mild acid is applied to the skin, left on for several minutes, neutralized, and then wiped off. In the days following, the top layers of your skin will slough off, revealing a new, smooth layer of skin underneath. Chemical peels are available in a variety of strengths.
While most chemical peels are made for all skin types, there are some better suited for deeper skin tones than others. We recommend that women of color avoid chemical peels that cause redness or significant peeling – deep chemical peels, for example – because they can put you at risk of hyperpigmentation.
A consultation and evaluation with one of our expert technicians will determine the best chemical peel for your skin tone and type.
Microneedling is a non-ablative skincare treatment which means that it does not involve removing the epidermis in order to facilitate the development of a new layer of skin. It’s a great procedure for improving the texture and appearance of the skin and is safe for all skin types and tones.
Ablative skincare treatments, on the other hand, typically leave side effects on dark skin due to the high levels of melanin being incompatible with ablative techniques. These types of treatments often leave scarring, hypo or hyperpigmentation, and infection with long-term damage.
Microneedling involves pricking the epidermis and dermis with tiny needles that create hundreds of tiny punctures in the skin and triggers the growth of new skin cells and the body’s healing process, tricking it into producing new collagen. The procedure involves no other injury to the skin, no heat, and no chemicals which makes it safe for dark skin tones. The results are the same for all skin tones, no matter how dark or light.
Dermaplaning is a popular cosmetic treatment because it doesn’t involve any needles, lasers, or chemicals but is still great for rejuvenating the skin. A scalpel is used to gently remove facial hair, leaving the skin soft and with fewer texture problems. Dermaplaning is safe for all skin tones as long as you choose a skilled provider who can be trusted to safely use a surgical scalpel to shave the top layers of skin. There are many bad dermaplaners out there which is where Virginia Surgical comes in. This is a procedure that requires skill, finesse, and a very steady hand, all of which we have an abundance of.
Dermaplaning is also great when combined with other skincare treatments to produce the best results.
Microdermabrasion is a recommended treatment if you have mild acne scarring and uneven skin texture because it uses fine crystals and controlled suction to slough away the top layer of dead skin cells. When the treatment is done, your skin will be softer, smoother, and more vibrant, oftentimes with reduced appearance of fine lines and large pores, though it is not the best anti-aging or skin-tightening procedure.