The skin care market is growing but there is still an untapped need for personalized skin care services for people of color. Women and men of color are looking for skin care specialists who understand their unique skin care needs. Unfortunately, many aestheticians never receive adequate training on skin of color in aesthetics school. Getting quality education on how to treat the unique structure and function of different skin tones is critical for all aestheticians who desire to provide quality services. Below are seven secrets every aesthetician should know about diverse skin types.
AFRICAN-AMERICANS ARE NOT THE ONLY DEMOGRAPHIC WITH SKIN OF COLOR
In fact, skin of color is defined as skin which is non-caucasian and falls within the Fitzpatrick III-VI skin types. Demographic groups with skin of color include Africans, African-Americans, Afro-Caribbeans, Hispanics, Asians, Pacific Islanders, Native Americans, and Middle Easterners. As indicated by the United States census, by the year 2050, over half of the United States’ population will be people of color.
ALL SKIN IS NOT THE SAME
Unfortunately, many aestheticians are under the impression that “skin is skin” and that all skin reacts the same. This is far from the truth. Many research studies have shown that skin of color has a structure and function that is unique to caucasian skin. For example, transepidermal water loss (TEWL) is the total amount of water lost in the skin. Some studies have found that black and Asian skin have TEWL that is 1.1 times greater than that of caucasian skin, leading to an open barrier that could cause them to be more irritant-prone.
THERE ARE SKIN DISEASES THAT ARE UNIQUE TO PEOPLE WITH SKIN OF COLOR
Because of the differences in the structure and function of skin of color, skin diseases present differently in comparison to caucasian skin. Some of the common disorders found in skin of color are post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, pseudofolliculitis barbae, melasma, vitiligo, and acne keloidalis nuchae. It is important for aestheticians to be aware of how differences in skin physiology impacts the presence of certain skin diseases in various skin tones.
HYPERPIGMENTATION: A TOP CONCERN FOR CLIENTS WITH SKIN OF COLOR
Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) is a pigmentary disorder in which the skin darkens after an inflammatory response or injury occurs in the skin cells caused by acne vulgaris, atopic dermatitis, psoriasis, medications, or wounds. PIH presents as dark patches in the cutaneous tissue where the inflammatory injury occurred. An excessive amount of melanin is created at the point of inflammation thereby causing PIH. This can be challenging to treat in skin of color, especially if it is in the deep layers of the skin.
“BLACK DOESN’T CRACK”
The old adage “black doesn’t crack” is used to describe how women of color seem not to age. Science has proven that darker skin tones have much larger nucleated fibroblasts and smaller collagen fiber bundles. This physiological difference contributes to people of color aging gracefully and exhibiting minimal lines and wrinkles.
CULTURAL AND PSYCHOSOCIAL FACTORS IMPACT TREATMENT
Cultural practices and psychosocial factors play a big role in treatment of clients with skin of color. A cultural assessment must be a part of the service in-take process to personalize treatments to this demographic. The aesthetician who remains educated on the science of skin of color and pairs it with an understanding of cultural influences will enhance their clients’ quality of life and build a profitability practice.
As the population increases, there will be a growing demand for aesthetic services specifically designed for those with varying skin colors. In order to effectively connect with people of color, the aesthetician must master multicultural marketing and branding. Effective marketing that sends a clear message through multiple channels will speak volumes to potential clients with skin of color.
Eunice Cofie-Obeng is the founder, chief executive officer, chief chemist, and licensed aesthetician of Nuekie, an innovative skin care company for people of color. Eunice holds a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry and molecular biology from Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, a Master of Science degree in pharmaceutical sciences with an emphasis in cosmetic science from the University of Cincinnati, and a certificate in global leadership and public policy for the 21st Century from Harvard Kennedy School of Government Executive Education program. She is a sought-after expert on the topics of cosmetic science, skin of color, and entrepreneurship.