• Marsha


The idea of "personalized skincare" becomes increasingly popular to date, marked by the emergence of brands, like The Ordinary and The Inkey List, which enable customers to pick and choose certain active ingredients that are suitable for their skin type or concern.

I used to purchase my skincare products based on what it says on the bottle - whether it's an "anti-aging" or a "brightening" serum, without really looking at the ingredients list. Back then, I never knew that there are ethnic and individual differences in skin structure, physiology, and therefore, aging process. In other words, ingredients that are considered to be "anti-aging" for Caucasian skin may not be effective anti-aging ingredients for Asian or African skin.

In a nutshell, skin colour is defined by the Fitzpatrick system that categorizes the skin into 6 types (I-VI), based on complexion, inflammatory response, sun burn susceptibility (fair skin more susceptible to sun burn than darker skin). Darker skin is characterized by more dispersed and larger melanocytes that contain more melanin, whereas fairer skin contains smaller and more aggregated melanocytes with less melanin content.

African & Asian Skin:

  • Thicker Stratum Corneum (uppermost layer of skin) than Caucasian skin

  • Better photoprotection against UV (high melanin production) than Caucasian skin

  • Stronger antimicrobial defenses than Caucasian skin - thus, less prone to inflammatory lesions.

  • More rapid skin barrier recovery than Caucasian skin

  • Thicker and more compact dermis - great structural integrity of collagen (preserved during aging) than Caucasian skin

  • More prone to scarring/keloids than Caucasian skin.

So what happens as we age:

  • Darker skin, although resistant to wrinkles, is more pronounced to uneven pigmentation (hypo and hyperpigmentation). This is usually the first sign of photodamage seen in Asian and Oriental skin.

  • Dry skin and xerosis is more pronounced in African skin during aging.

Given these differences, there is no "one size fits all" when it comes to skincare. For example, high UVA protection sunscreen will be particularly beneficial for fairer skin, whereas darker skin benefits most from sunscreens that filter shorter UV wavelengths that affect the epidermis and exacerbate pigmentation. Furthermore, products that target wrinkle formation, such as Retinol, AHAs, and Ginseng root extract would be great anti aging ingredients for Caucasian skin, whereas African and Asian skin can benefit more from ingredients that support skin barrier renewal, enhance the natural moisturizing factors (NMF) and target hyperpigmentation, such as Alpha Arbutin, Vitamin C, and Retinol.

For more tips on anti aging skincare, check out my video here

Till next time,

The Skin Press


Markiewicz & Idowu (2018). doi: 10.2147/CCID.S163799

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