Last Updated on April 25th, 2020
When it comes to picking out the best acne treatment for you and your skin, it’s essential to consider all of the factors, including skin color. This guide will walk you through the unique needs of Black, Latin, Asian, and white skin, including the most up-to-date research and recommendations for safe and effective acne products.
It’s impossible to name one product or ingredient as the best for everyone because everyone’s skin is different and has unique needs. For instance, did you know that Black skin is more likely to develop dark marks after acne heals, and white skin is more prone to dryness? These are very different problems, and thus, require very different solutions.
Instead of offering up one product that can supposedly treat all types of acne on all types of skin, this article will recommend two of the best products specifically designed to treat the unique acne problems for those with Black, Latin, Asian, and white skin.
Black skin is found all over the world and comes in a wide variety of shades. Black skin is more highly pigmented than fair skin as a result of increased melanin production, which gives the skin a rich, deep color. This increased melanin production contributes to a problem seen in most people of color who struggle with acne: post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, or PIH.
PIH is essentially when a dark spot forms after an inflamed acne blemish heals. As part of the healing process, the skin sends extra melanin to the acne blemish, which then darkens the skin in that particular spot. Even though everyone may experience PIH, people of color typically experience more severe or long-lasting PIH due to the increased levels of melanin naturally occurring in the skin. According to several reports from dermatologists, many people with Black skin report that PIH affects them more negatively than acne itself.
So what can you do about acne and PIH if you have Black skin? We recommend trying the two following products:
One of the most important products in your acne skincare routine is your cleanser, and for Black skin specifically, we’ve found African black soap to be one of the most popular and effective options. As a note, black soap is never actually black, and if it is, it likely contains unnecessary chemicals and should be avoided. Real black soap is brown and is made all over Africa. Its exact contents depend on the region in which it’s made. It usually contains the ashes of various burned pants, like shea and cocoa pods, along with palm oil or olive oil.
Because people with Black skin are more likely to experience pimples rather than blackheads and whiteheads, it’s essential to include a benzoyl peroxide product in your acne treatment routine, like Exposed Skin Care’s Acne Treatment Serum. Benzoyl peroxide is one of the most popular acne treatment ingredients in the world, and for a good reason. It effectively kills the acne-causing bacteria associated with pimples, and studies show that regular application of benzoyl peroxide in mild concentrations (2.5%-5%) can significantly reduce acne.
Some sources claim benzoyl peroxide can bleach dark skin, resulting in uneven skin tone or unpredictable white spotting. Still, according to the American Academy of Dermatology, this is just a myth.
Like all skin of color, Latin skin comes in a wide variety of shades, but regardless of color, Latin skin differs from other skin types in a few key ways.
First, people with Latin skin are far more likely to experience acne scarring than people of any other race. Latin skin is also more prone to PIH than Asian or white skin, but less so than Black skin. Second, pimples and cystic acne are far more likely in Latin skin than in any other racial skin type. Although pimples are frustrating and often leave scars behind, cystic acne is often severe and nearly impossible to treat without dermatologist intervention. Before you book an appointment with a dermatologist though, we recommend trying these two products:
Because Latin skin is more prone to oil-related acne-like pimples and cysts, we recommend using a cleanser that gently removes excess oil and dead skin cells through chemical exfoliation, like Exposed Skin Care’s Facial Cleanser. The reason we like this cleanser by Exposed so much is that it uses a very mild concentration of salicylic acid. Many cleansers use 1% or even 2% salicylic acid, but Exposed keeps it down to 0.5%. The lower level makes the product incredibly gentle and unlikely to cause any sensitivity reaction, no matter how sensitive your skin may be, and it’s a great introduction to acne skin care if you haven’t tried it before.
Cleansing is only part of the treatment o get rid of acne. Your skin also needs treatment, and one of the best ways to treat acne in Latin skin is with a mild retinoid, like Differin 0.1% gel. Retinoids are very concentrated synthetic forms of vitamin A, and they range in strength from the most extreme, like the orally-taken isotretinoin (also known as Accutane), to the mildest, like topical adapalene, which is the retinoid used in Differin. According to a scientific review of effective acne treatments in skin of color, retinoids are an excellent option because they break up clogged pores, prevent the overgrowth of skin cells, which contribute to cystic acne, and even help reduce the severity of PIH.
There are a few things to look out for if you have acne-prone Asian skin. The first, as with all skin of color, is PIH. Although Asian skin is less likely to experience PIH than Black or Latin skin, it’s still more likely than white skin.
When it comes to what kind of acne blemish Asian skin is most likely to experience, the research shows that inflamed acne-like papules or pimples are more likely than other types of acne. Finally, it’s important to note that Asian skin is typically more sensitive than other skin types. Research has not yet confirmed why this is, but we know that sensitive skin is more prone to irritation, which can lead to inflammation, which is a direct cause of acne. Luckily, these products may provide a solution:
We were so happy to find the Neogen Dermology Real Fresh Foam Cleanser with Green Tea because it’s alcohol-free. Most cleansers contain at least a little alcohol, but this product uses all kinds of natural active ingredients to clean the skin instead. It contains olive oil, tea tree extract, cucumber extract, glycerin, and countless other natural acne-fighting ingredients. The only downside is that this product contains a lot of ingredients, so if you react to it, it may be challenging to identify what caused the problem.
Once you’ve cleansed your skin, it’s essential to exfoliate and remove any excess oil and dead skin cells left behind. We recommend the Exposed Skin Care Clearing Tonic for Asian skin, especially, because it contains no alcohol. The main exfoliating ingredient in this product is salicylic acid. Still, it also contains glycolic acid, azelaic acid, and witch hazel as well, all of which are known for exfoliating and cleansing the skin. Together, these acids could irritate some skin, but Exposed Skin Care includes several ingredients to combat this possible irritation, like green tea extract, aloe vera extract, and passionflower extract.
If you have white skin, you’re probably used to your skin being treated as “normal” and all other skin colors as “other,” but the truth is, white skin has unique differences you should be aware of, just like Black, Latin, or Asian skin.
First, although white skin can develop (PIH), it is less likely than in other skin colors, and it is typically less severe. The second main difference is that white skin is more prone to cystic acne than any other skin color. Finally, white skin is often dryer than many other skin colors, making it more prone to irritation and inflammation. All skin colors can be dry, oily, or combination, but studies show that white skin is statistically more likely to be dry. So which products are best designed for the unique problems facing white skin? We’ve found these two products to be particularly effective:
Cosrx Low-pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser is ideal for white skin because it contains tea tree oil, which is a great natural ingredient for killing acne-causing bacteria. According to several studies, tea tree oil can effectively kill acne-causing bacteria. Because white skin is more likely to experience cysts, which involve an overgrowth of acne bacteria, a cleanser containing tea tree oil is a great place to start treatment and get closer to clean, clear skin.
Yep, we’re recommending Exposed Skin Care again. Their products are that good. Specifically, their Moisture Complex is the perfect final step to any skin care routine, but especially for those who are prone to dry skin or those who are using lots of tea tree oil products for cystic acne. Although we love tea tree oil and highly recommend it for at-home treatment of cystic acne, it does tend to irritate if used without proper moisturization. By applying Exposed Skin Care’s Moisture Complex twice a day, you can prevent irritation and keep treating your cystic acne without worrying about causing even more acne. Its formula utilizes topical green tea extract, vitamin E, and pumpkin seed extract, all of which provide calming or moisturizing effects for the skin, and avoids any pore-clogging ingredients like coconut oil or SLS.
Due to hormonal changes that go along with puberty, acne typically starts between ages 11 and 15, although it can begin earlier or later. From there, acne could last anywhere from a few years to several decades, depending on many different factors.
Genetics plays a large role, which you, unfortunately, don’t have any control over, but there are other variables that you can control. For instance, how you treat your acne can make a huge difference in how long it lasts. Proper treatment can drastically reduce acne so even if you do have it for 20 years, it can become almost unnoticeable.
There are many ways to treat acne because there are many causes of acne. For instance, if you have oily skin, the excess oil could clog your pores and cause acne, so the best treatment would be one that helps reduce oil production and buildup. But if your skin is especially dry, the dead skin cells could also clog pores and cause acne, and that requires an entirely different treatment. Instead of reducing oil, you need to gently moisturize your skin.
The best way to treat acne is to learn as much as you can about what is causing acne in your particular scenario. You can do this by learning about your skin type and learning more about the three main causes of acne: oil, bacteria, and inflammation.
Acne doesn’t have a cure in the way that strep throat has a cure, but it can be successfully treated to the point where it more or less disappears entirely. It helps to think of acne as an ongoing condition rather than an acute disease. Instead of looking for a quick fix or a one-time permanent cure, look for the best tools for preventing acne from forming in the first place.
Generally, the best way to prevent acne is through a consistent skincare routine that involves cleansing your skin, treating the acne you already have, and moisturizing your skin. Find the right products for your skin type and follow this routine every morning and night, and you should see a drastic improvement in your acne. Eventually, your hormones and skin chemistry may shift and your acne might naturally start to fade, but until then, gentle consistent care is the closest thing to a cure.