Ethnic skin is simply non-Caucasian skin characterized by varying amounts of melanin. Skin classification is widely done using the Fitzpatrick Phototype System and this system classifies skin based on its response to ultraviolet radiation depending on ability to tan or burn. This ranges from skin phototype I, white caucasian skin which never tans and always burns, to skin phototype VI which is dark brown and never burns but always tans.
Ethnic skin include skin phototypes IV (light brown), V (brown) and VI (dark brown). All of these skin types tan to varying degrees but never burn. These include (but are not limited to) African, Asian, middle eastern, Native & Latin American, African American and people with mixed ethnic skins.
Melanin is the pigment in our skin that confers colour and most of it’s unique qualities and characteristics.
A few of the structural and functional differences of ethnic skin include our intrinsic sun protection from melanin to a factor up to SPF 15 (we still do need to use Sunblock nevertheless), our thicker skin layers (stratum corneum and dermis) – which is the reason why our skin wrinkles slower compared to white skin and our curly hair which makes us more liable to ingrown hairs and more susceptible to hair breakage. The same very reactive melanin makes us more prone to dark spots and disorders of hypopigmentation and hyperpigmentation. Some of the cells in our skin called fibroblasts that are found to be thicker than that in white skin also make us more susceptible to exaggerated scarring and keloids.
Overall, these differences in pigment and our unique cultural practices and standards of beauty all play a role in achieving and maintaining individually healthy skin. Without a thorough knowledge and experience regarding how ethnic skin responds to cosmeceuticals, topical treatments and procedures, one cannot successfully advice and treat patients with ethnic skin.
What this website hopes to achieve is provide and share skin health information that will enable people with ethnic skin make more informed decisions concerning their skincare and where to seek such care.