In her new book, Black Skin: The Definitive Skincare Guide, one of the UK’s best-loved skin experts, aesthetician Dija Ayodele, takes a deep dive into the wonderful world of Black skin. In the book, she explores its history – including how racist structural inequalities impact Black women’s experience of beauty – as well as common skin conditions and how to build an ultra-effective skincare regime.
“There was a glaring gap in the market for a book that spoke directly to Black women and the Black skincare community in general,” Ayodele tells me over the phone. “It’s an area I’ve worked in for a long time and I have seen my clients’ anxiety when asking me about products, treatments and procedures. They wonder, ‘Is this for me? Or for white women?’ They aren’t sure.”
To address the imbalance in representation, and ensure the world knows what it should about darker skin tones, she wrote Black Skin, an empowering and ultra-thorough one-stop-shop to immerse yourself in. Below, she shares the five things we should all know about Black skin, but don’t.
1. Black skin doesn’t need aggressive treatment
“A lot of people think that Black skin is tough and resilient and that it can withstand aggressive treatments. But the very nature of having melanin cells, which are extremely active in the skin, means that discolouration can occur quickly. It is actually quite fragile, but a lot of people think the opposite. I would always advise seeing a professional to gauge what your skin concerns are – it’s not that you can’t use a plethora of products or try different treatments, but it does mean that your approach to it needs to be nuanced and tailored to your skin.”
2. It can benefit from all ingredients
“There is no such thing as not being able to use certain ingredients or types of treatments – the whole skincare treatment menu is available to everyone. However, again, it’s about tailoring it to your skin concerns, as well as your skin type and colour. For example, when performing microneedling on a darker skin tone, I first use a shallow needle to see how the skin copes. Likewise, a lower percentage for chemical peels, too. Everything is for everyone: there is no such thing as ‘Black’ skincare. It’s just about tailoring what’s there to you.”
3. Black skin is often drier than other skin types
“Black skin holds fewer ceramides in its upper layers. Ceramides are a bit like a waterproof jacket and they help keep the skin waterproof – if you don’t have enough of them, you’re going to be losing moisture, so Black skin tends to be clinically dry. It’s important for all skin types – but it’s more common in Black communities – to know that oil is not a moisturiser. If your skin is dry, you need water to hydrate – oils don’t feed the skin moisture. Hyaluronic acid is fantastic at hydrating the skin, but make sure to always apply a heavier weight moisturiser on top to seal the deal.”
4.Yes, you can have laser treatments
“Back in the day – 20 years ago – lasers were not as sophisticated as they are now, so the risk of injury to Black skin was much higher. But now a Black woman can absolutely use lasers, just not all of them. For example, you wouldn’t use an ablative laser on Black skin because the risk of hyperpigmentation is quite high; instead, the Nd:YAG laser works well. You also need to ensure your practitioner is experienced and that they’ve worked with your skin type before you book in.”
5. The world of injectables is for you too
“One thing I always think Black women are missing out on is injectable treatments. Take lip filler – it is not just about creating bigger lips, for example, but rather about adding some extra hydration, getting rid of lines and repairing the lips. A lot of Black women feel they don’t have the permission to try these treatments. I tell a lot of my clients that there is no amount of lotions and potions that I can give them that will erase wrinkles completely – it needs to be put back in via a needle.”
This was originally Vogue US.