There’s no denying that Black is beautiful.
It’s easy to see why. The magic of melanin makes it possible for our kinfolk to stay looking youthful longer, and it seems to provide built-in protection from the sun’s powerful rays. And while this is a point of pride for many of us as we look to our mamas (and our mamas’ mamas), this doesn’t mean our skin is invincible.
Dr. Adeline Kikam, DO, FAAD, is a board-certified dermatologist spreading the gospel about healthy skincare to Black women on social media as The Brown Skin Derm. With Black dermatologists making up only 3% of dermatology professionals, Dr. Adeline recognized that a lot of the messages we receive about how to care for our skin are largely targeted for lighter skin and don’t address our skin’s unique needs.
In fact, we often miss important signs and health cues because of this disparity. With this in mind, Dr. Adeline is making it her mission to educate Black people on the best ways to keep our skin healthy. Her biggest recommendation? Adding sunscreen into your regimen — every day. “The burden of hyperpigmentation is extremely high in our community, and the sun worsens those dark spots.” Taking those thoughtful steps and adding the right products are key to keeping our skin fresh for as long as possible.
In commitment to bringing more skincare awareness to Black women of all ages, 21Ninety partnered with Sephora and sat down with Dr. Adeline, who gave us the science behind every stage of skincare and her favorite products to keep that #MelaninPoppin at every age.
Skincare for Your Teens+
A quintessential blemish kit that comes with spot-treatment dots and a gentle cleanser and serum. Great for a day or night regimen for clearer-looking skin. #TripleThreatSet
A serum a day keeps the pores away. This serum contains BHA such as salicylic acid and PHA, which reduce the look of pores. Perfect for visibly smoother skin.
What your skin needs: In our teens, we consider acne or blemishes to be part of the adolescent experience, but Dr. Adeline’s advice is to treat it like a medical condition! Visible inflammation is brought on by clogged pores and overactive oil production. Adding to the injury is scarring like keloids that are common due to hyperpigmentation, so creating great skincare habits at this early stage is absolutely necessary. Dr. Adeline recommends gentle exfoliants like salicylic acid and calming balms that soothe the skin.
Skincare for Your 20s+
Kiehl’s Since 1851 Milk-Peel Gentle Exfoliating Toner: A gentle exfoliant with almond milk and LHAs to nurture and refine your skin's texture to keep it looking its brightest. An easy plus-one to your skincare routine right after cleansing.
fresh Lotus Anti-Aging Night Moisturizer: A great, lightweight moisturizer that is rich in antioxidants, such as super lotus. Perfect for nighttime use that will give your skin the perfect, rested AM refresh. #IWokeUpLikeThis
What your skin needs: In our 20s, we often enjoy the benefit of a pretty effortless skincare routine, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take a few small extra steps to keep our skin looking healthy! Breakouts are still a common occurrence in our 20s, and unprotected sun exposure mixed with those late nights are probably not doing our skin any favors in the long term. Dr. Adeline says that now is the time that can really make a difference, and putting a little bit of extra care into your routine can really go a long way. Try adding in an exfoliant to brighten dark spots and blemish scarring, as well as a light moisturizer before hitting the pillowcase.
Skincare for Your 30s+
Caudalie Vinoperfect Anti Dark Spot Serum: A brightening, oil-free serum made to target the look of uneven skin tone without clogging your pores. Use it as a secret weapon to combat dark spots (even those omitted from blue light!) and free radicals.
Biossance Squalane + 10% Vitamin C Dark Spots Serum: Vitamin C is a must for tackling dullness. The Vitamin C and Shiitake mushroom blend targets and fades those dark spots and prevents new ones from forming.
What your skin needs: Our 30s can be a pivotal time for skincare. As much as we’d like to resist it, our skin does change. Nowadays, we’ve got higher levels of stress and fewer hours of sleep, and without proper skincare habits, those little stressors start to take their toll on our skin. Dr. Adeline says, “Now is a great time to have a fine-tuned skincare routine.” The keys here are antioxidants such as Vitamin C, which not only brighten your skin but are also a great booster to your sunscreen protection.
Skincare for Your 40s+
Youth to the People: Superclay Purify + Clear Power Mask: Niacinamide is a great moisturizer, and this clarifying solution aims to add moisture while it clears the look of those pores and helps even out skin tone. This powerful mask is quick and effective.
What your skin needs: Yes, you can still stunt in your 40s, but being intentional about your skincare habits and product selection can really help you get there. For Black women in their 40s, now’s when we start to see telltale signs of aging in the form of dynamic wrinkles (i.e., crow’s feet, laugh lines, etc.), growths, discoloration and texture changes. That means that we really need to start paying attention to the little ways that we can counteract some of those skin concerns. Since darker skin is more prone to dryness, Dr. Adeline suggests making moisturization a big part of the regimen, as well as continuing to make sure to keep pores clear with masks and gentle exfoliants.
Skincare for Your 50s+
Tatcha: The Dewy Skin Cream. Rich in antioxidants, this is your go-to face cream to get that full-on glow. Japanese purple rice is the magic ingredient that serves up that juicy plumpness and intense hydration.
Farmacy: Filling Good Hyaluronic Acid Plumping Serum. Looking to get that bounce back? This serum with hyaluronic acid and vegan collagen peptides visibly smoothes the appearance of wrinkles and gives skin that visibly plumping, hydrating bounce.
What your skin needs: No matter what your skincare regimen has been up until now, it is important to remember to pamper your skin. It’s never too late! Dr. Adeline agrees. “Just because you are in your 50s doesn’t mean it’s too late to start!” As skin starts to show signs of visible dryness, we need to take steps to keep it hydrated and moisturized. And yes, we do mean both. Hydration occurs at a deeper level and is what gives skin that bounce. Moisturization is the surface-level barrier that locks that hydration in. We need both components to keep skin looking dewy and rejuvenated. Dr. Adeline encourages the use of hyaluronic acid, antioxidants and sunscreen to improve skin and prevent existing concerns from worsening.
Every age is a great age to begin a healthy relationship with your skin. It is never too late (or too early) for new skincare habits, even if that means adding just one more step. In fact, Dr. Adeline believes that extra time can become a welcome opportunity for #SelfCare every day. “Find a routine that works for you, and find joy in it!”
This editorial is brought to you in partnership with Sephora.
- By Natalie Webb
Disclaimer: We are not providing health care or medical advice, or attempting to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure any physical, mental or emotional issue, disease or condition. The information provided pertaining to your health or wellness or any other aspect of your life is not intended to be a substitute for the professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment provided by your own Medical Provider.