5 Key Tips For Treating The Most Common Concerns In Melanated Skin

The experts have spoken.

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Skin Tips For Dark Complexions
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In terms of Black beauty, there are many sacred elements. Hair is a great example, whether it’s naturally coily or smoothed straight, it is always revered. Skin, be it health or appearance, is also considered profane. While everyone is susceptible to damage and degradation over time, Black skin requires special attention when caring for specific concerns such as acne, eczema, and sun damage. The addition of melanin— a bodily substance that produces pigmentation— provides a diverse range of skin tones, but it also means that nominal concerns are much more complex. Hyper- and hypopigmentation, for example, are frequent side effects to many issues due to melanin production.

Still, navigating the field of terms and treatments can be daunting. With discoloration problems and skin irritation becoming more of an aesthetics issue, it’s hard to know where to begin. Topical products might sound like the best solution, but determining things like the right concentration levels of active ingredients often complicates a trip to the drugstore. Even the most seasoned skin care enthusiasts need help from time to time. For this reason, TZR spoke with a team of experts who know Black skin inside and out.

Below, they’ve shared their insight into the most common concerns for deep complexions and the best ways to treat them.


Eczema, known as atopic dermatitis, is a prevalent skin issue. Characterized by dry patches and inflammation, the disorder is common for deeper complexions. Dr. Naana Boakye M.D., board-certified dermatologist and founder of Bergen Dermatology, notes that it’s not exclusive to any age, gender, or ethnicity. Still, the effects in melanated skin have a different appearance. According to a scientific study published by The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, darker skin tones have a greater risk for pigmentary and textural changes.

Dr. Boakye explains that several genetic and environmental factors can cause eczema and that treatment can also vary. Some of the most common forms include topical corticosteroids, anti-inflammatory creams, and oral medications. “Since eczema can be triggered by certain factors that can worsen symptoms, avoiding anything that will cause a flare-up is advised,” she adds. Though it’s best to speak with a dermatologist about your specific needs, she notes that over-the-counter moisturizers, hypoallergenic, fragrance-free, and non-comedogenic ointments are ideal for helping hydrate skin and stop dryness and itching. To keep the symptoms at bay, she suggests looking for products containing ceramides, hyaluronic acid, glycerin, or oils like extra virgin olive, coconut, and sunflower seed.

Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation

Hyperpigmentation is common in all shades of black and brown skin. You’re probably familiar with a few of the issues that may cause it, but according to Lakeisha Dale, esthetician and founder of Melaskin Studio, any level of trauma to the skin can trigger a change in pigmentation. “Certain conditions, such as eczema, trigger an increase in the enzyme in charge of melanin production, causing post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH),” she says. While this is the most common cause, the pro tells TZR that it’s not the only factor to consider. “Our melanin production spikes when we’re in the sun as a way of protecting our skin from UV rays,” she adds.

When it comes to treating PIH, she suggests taking a low and slow approach. “Fading the darker areas requires using ingredients that will help resurface your skin to shed off the dead cells that have extra pigment to prevent new hyperpigmentation from developing,” she says. Incorporating active ingredients at low percentages and introducing them slowly, as you don’t want to overwhelm the skin, is the best way to begin treatment. Dale recommends creating a regimen with a hero chemical exfoliant like mandelic, lactic, and azelaic acid to slough off the surface layer and retinol to help with cellular turnover. “Mandelic acid is a favorite because it treats acne and hyperpigmentation,” she says. Aside from adjusting your at-home routine, Dale mentions that it's a good idea to treat your self to a monthly facial. “Professional treatments that consist of microdermabrasion and a light peel can further boost your results,” she says.


Like PIH, Keloids are also caused by trauma to the skin. However, the appearance is completely different. “Keloids are an exuberant overgrowth of scar tissue that can form at sites where skin has experienced an injury,” says Dr. Boakye. They can occur in various areas of the body but are most commonly found on the ears (usually after a piercing), shoulders, and chest. At first glance, they may appear as normal scars, but Dr. Boakye explains that keloids are a lot thicker and can continue to grow and linger long after the wound has closed. While they’re not typically harmful or connected to any serious health risks, they can be uncomfortable and pesky to deal with.

Since keloids are formed of tissue, removing them is the main form of treatment. According to Dr. Boakye, there are a few methods to consider. “Those wanting to remove their keloids can opt for a surgical procedure along with steroid injections to reduce inflammation or radiation and laser therapies to prevent its reoccurrence. Given the severity, she advises consulting with a dermatologist to determine the right combination of treatments that will best suit your concern.


Though melasma affects all ethnicities and genders, a scientific study showed that the condition is much more prevalent in those with darker skin. Several determining factors cause melasma, such as genetics and hormone levels. But the splotchy and freckle-like patches that appear on the skin are most often a result of sun exposure. Many people misinterpret melasma for PIH. While the two are different, there are some similarities. According to the American Academy of Dermatology Association, melasma has many of the same symptoms as hyperpigmentation, but treatment usually begins with sun care. “Since your skin ramps up the melanin production while out in the sun, you need to have a good routine in place,” says Dale. To that, she recommends wearing sunscreen daily, even on the cloudiest of days.

Dermatosis Papulosa Nigra

You may not be familiar with the name, but it’s likely you’ve seen Dermatosis Papulosa Nigra (DPN) before. Characterized by small, raised skin that resembles a mole, the condition is widely prevalent in African Americans. “Though the exact cause of DPN is unknown, the overproduction of melanin can contribute to the issue,” says Dr. Boakye. She continues noting that other factors such as genetics, age, sun exposure, and family history can also play a role in DPN’s development.

While the condition is harmless, many people choose to remove the papules for cosmetic reasons. If you’re planning on having them surgically removed, Dr. Boakye tells TZR that laser therapy, freeze therapy, or cautery are all viable options. “Topical medications won’t remove DPN, but they can help to lighten the areas around mole-like structures and the tissue itself,” she says. Consulting with a dermatologist is the best place to start to determine the right treatment based on the severity and location of your DPN.