The Science Behind “Black Don’t Crack”: Understanding the Unique Aging Process of Melanin-Rich Skin: 5 Ally-Aging Support Ingredients for Over 50 Skin
The Unique Aging Process of Melanin-Rich Skin
When many of us think of aging skin or anti-aging products, we think of “fine lines and wrinkles.” However, for most Black people in their 50s, and even into their 60s, fine lines and wrinkles are not the primary concern.
We are all familiar with the old adage, “Black don’t crack.” It is important to understand that skin aging is a natural process that affects everyone. However, genetics, lifestyle, and other factors can affect how we age. There are at least three factors that determine skin aging.
Factors that Affect Melanin-Rich Skin
For those of us with melanin-rich skin, there are intrinsic distinctive traits that affect the aging process. Our collagen and elastin fibers are slow to degrade, our facial bones are thicker, our skin is more acidic, which helps fight some skin infections, and eumelanin provides some protection against ultraviolet light and free-radical oxygen species. Additionally, other illnesses and diseases can contribute to skin aging. Ultimately, however, it is our genes that define intrinsic aging.
Extrinsic factors such as diet, stress, sun exposure, smoking, and pollution can also affect skin aging. These factors increase the production of free-radicals, which in turn can affect the intrinsic aging process.
How Hormones Affect Skin
Hormones are a third factor in skin aging, especially for women, due to the effects of menopause and the decline of estrogen. Estrogen deficiency accentuates skin dryness and loss of tone in the epidermis, leading to more epidermal water loss and decreased production of ceramics and lipids.
So, how do we care for melanin-rich skin that seems to defy some of the normal processes of aging? What type of “anti-aging” skin systems do we need when we say, “Well, I’m getting older, but I don’t have fine lines or wrinkles, what should I be using?” We need to address our top skin concerns, but we also need to start a preventative skin system.
Here are five skincare needs for mature, melanin-rich skin in people over 50
Hydration: epidermal water loss increases with age.
Anti-oxidants: fights free radical oxygen species from damaging skin cells.
Peptides: a chain of amino acids that can absorb past the epidermis to help rebuild collagen and protein in the dermis.
Omega 3 & 6 fatty acids: applying oils (as ingredients) high in these fatty acids help to soften skin, fade blemishes, and fight free-radicals.
Ceramides: Melanin-rich skin tends to hold fewer ceramides in its upper layers and this only decreases with age. Loss of the ceramides means loss of water.
Additional Skincare Support
While there are certainly other needs for maturing skin like: sleep, eye creams, sun protection, a plant-rich diet, and exercise, I listed some of the needed ingredients in skincare that protect the integrity of maturing skin.
I personally refer to these as my “age fighters.”
Finding the Right Skincare Regimen for Mature African-American Skin
While many licensed estheticians may offer services that range from chemical peels to fillers, the key is to make sure that you find someone who is experienced in caring for Afro-ethnic skin and who understands how to uniquely approach mature, melanin-rich skin. As individuals, we need to be proactive in finding the right skincare regimen for us, and that starts with understanding the unique needs of our skin.