We're back talking about Black skin and the challenges we face when it comes to our skin when finding and using skincare that works for us.
I wanted to dive into hyperpigmentation because that's mainly where a lot of our skin problems arise from. When we take a deeper look though, we ask ourselves, "Where does the hyperpigmentation come from anyway and how to prevent it in the first place?" One cause of that, which is this week's topic: post inflammatory erythema or post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.
What is PIE/PIH?
Post-Inflammatory Erythema or Hyperpigmentation, based on Skin of Color Society (skinofcolorsociety.org), is a condition that "occurs after there is damage or irritation to the skin." They mention that the skin turns very tan, brown, or purple, hence the term "hyperpigmentation".
Because people of color has more pigmentation, we're more prone to hyperpigmentation that occurs due to damage to the dermal or epidermal layer of the skin. The skin conditions that result in PIH are due to acne, eczema, burns, psoriasis, insect bites, allergic reactions, etc.
When inflammation occurs on the skin, a healing response is sent to that inflammation point. With darker skin tones, more melanocytes are sent to the area of distress to essentially "cover the spot" back up, resulting in more pigmentation than normal that doesn't match your current tone--it's either lighter or darker.
In most Black skin, this results in darker, uneven splotches that sometimes is worse than the acne or scars that we were battling before. This is the problem that most Black skin battle with and find it hard to get rid of. Most products on the market don't necessarily focus on this issue for us, as the ingredients included in certain skin "lightening and brightening" products are things that may work for fairer tones of color--leaving out the middle and darker tones--which may be irritating for us (proven with me).
With a lot of K-Beauty and J-Beauty happening around in the skincare industry, there's still a lot of companies that are forgetting deeper skin tones like Black women and men, continuously denying putting our skin putting on the forefront of the product formulation process or even the idealization of a product line. Thus, sometimes those products that claim to even our skin's tone and reduce hyperpigmentation, barely do so or miss the mark, causing unnecessary irritation and possibly even more damage with the overuse of acids and other active ingredients. Not all active ingredients are bad, however, when combined with certain other ingredients, or too high of a concentration or percentage, this can cause an adverse reaction which can over-sensitize the skin and cause even further damage.
However, based on a study by Chua-Ty G et al, the conclusion was that skin tones that tend to be darker in pigmentation and lower on the Fitzpatrick scale (from IV to VI), suffered from hyperpigmentation the most as opposed to lighter skin tones, rather than racial contribution to the development of hyperpigmentation.
How is this remedied and what does Ode to Self do to solve that problem?
To prevent dark marks or post inflammatory erythema, the best thing that you can do is do nothing at all besides your normal, basic skincare routine which just consists of cleansing, toning, and moisturizing--a.k.a.: cleanse, balance, and seal/protect. Sometimes, dark marks caused by pimples and acne tend to go away over time on their own over the course of a couple of weeks or months. To speed up the healing process with these, you can use concentrated treatments that cater specifically to your skin tone and peels that also are safe for your skin as well, being cautious to not over do it so that you won't incur further damage.
For helping with the top layer for epidermal hyperpigmentation, that's why we've created our De Palma Facial Oil as it contains Rosehip and Sea Buckthorn Berry oils as they have a high level of beta-carotene and antioxidants, along with vitamin e and Black Currant Seed Oil, which has been proven to help heal scar tissue and marks overtime.
In addition for bodily hyperpigmentation, our Dusk Body Oil has a higher concentration of vitamin E, since the skin of the body is not as fragile as our facial skin. Vitamin E plays a crucial role in skin healing as it's an anti-oxidant and helps to stop free radicals, or damaged cells, from scavenging our skin and wreaking havoc.
Included in Dusk as well are Yangu Oil, which helps with protecting your skin from ultraviolet rays (as told by Africans who use it for their skin during harsh heat weather), which in turn, helps to deflect sun damage and hyperpigmentation spots. This, also combined with Jasmine and Manuka oils, helps to alleviate dark spots on the body such as stretch marks, scarring left from bug bites, eczema, or scratches and nicks.
We're also in the process of developing a concentrated corrective serum to strategically fight hyperpigmentation of the face that specifically targets darker skin tones to accelerate skin cell regeneration (or turnover rate) to help fade dark marks. This would be a non-comedogenic formulation that has high, but safe, concentrations of specific ingredients that will serve as the extra boost in your skincare routine, and the step before applying De Palma. We can't wait to debut this this to you all soon and it's going to be amazing! Stay up to date with us by signing up for our newsletter to know when our serum debuts, plus other new products!
Do you have questions about PIH or your skin? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below. We'd love to hear from you.
Chere Lucas, MD - Skin of Color Society
Chua-Ty G, Goh CL, Koh SL. Pattern of skin diseases at the national skin centre (Singapore) from 1989–1990. Int J Dermatol. 1992;31:555–559.
Halder RM, Grimes PE, McLaurin CI, et al. Incidence of common dermatoses in a predominately black dermatologic practice. Cutis. 1983;32:388–390.