Taking Care of Black Skin

Different skin has different needs

About 1/3 of the people that we see at Smooth Skin Laser are people of color. We have made significant efforts to have the right kind of lasers and the right kind of training to be able to take care of all skin types. Skin coloring in general breaks down to three different categories. Fitzpatrick skin type one and two are generally Caucasian lighter colored skin (white), and usually of North American and northern European descent. Fitzpatrick, skin types three and four are darker color skin (brown) and usually Asian, Indian subcontinent, Latin America and southern Mediterranean descent. Fitzpatrick skin types five and six are the darkest skin (black) and generally are of African descent.


People with skin types five and six have specialized needs because they are more prone to developing hypo and hyper pigmentation (too little or too much pigmentation) in response to injury, irritation, and certain types of laser. We have both the YAG Laser and the Vectus diode laser, each of which use laser light wavelengths that are safer for treating the darkest colored skin.

Common Issues

Black skin issues that we have been very successful treating are Folliculits Barbae and DPN. 

Folliculitis Barbae (“Ingrowns”) - For men, it is very common for them to have irritation in the areas of hair growth on the neck and certain parts of the face which can be associated with ingrown hair or inflammation around the hair follicles. This is called folliculitis barbae. It can make shaving difficult, and often results in hyperpigmentation of the skin because of the chronic irritation. It is most common on the neck, but it is often seen on the hairline in the back of the head and even other parts of the body. Women occasionally have this as well, especially if they have more hair growth than usual. Use of one of our appropriate lasers by our highly trained and experienced technicians virtually always leads to success in treating this problem. Elimination of the hair over a series of five treatments with the laser eliminates the folliculitis problem and also the need to shave that area!

DPN (“Little black bumps”) - Black men and women are prone to get small, black bumps, particularly on the sides of their face and neck. A short name for this is DPN. “Little black bumps” is a good description. While harmless, these can sometimes be a cosmetic bother, especially when they seem to multiply as people grow older. The good news is that we can use the Pico laser to get rid of them, especially when they are small and first appear.

General Hydration and Care

In general, Black skin is dark because there is a heavy amount of melanin pigment in the epidermal cells (right on the surface) which acts to protect the skin underneath. It can be more prone to dryness and irregularity of the pigment, especially challenging when occurring on the face. I looked at some research last year regarding the best type of products to use on dark skin. The three most important things to look for are non-irritating, good hydration, and a skin-tone evening effect.  There are quite a few product lines that are good quality: Black Opal, Hyper skin, Urban skin, Buttah, Bolden and Epara. If you use products from any of these skin lines on a regular basis you are probably doing fine. 

My Recommendation

Last summer I reviewed the 2023 New Beauty Magazine awards which tested over 10,000 products and procedures and picked the very best ones for quite a few skin and body categories. I was most impressed by the new line of skincare products created under the impetus of John Legend who said “Black and brown skinned people are known to lose more moisture 2 1/2 times faster than lighter skin tones so it’s scientifically proven that we need moisturizing products more than others do.” The line is called Loved01 (pronounced: loved one) and was reviewed highly by New Beauty. The price point is surprisingly economical as Legend is trying to make it available to as many people as possible. It is well-made for melanin-rich skin and includes a creamy moisturizer, a face and body oil, a gentle, moisturizing soap, and a few others. I’m not trying to be a marketing agent for this product line, but having looked at all 399 of the New Beauty product winners, you would be hard-pressed to find general good care for your skin at a better value. Here is the website:  https://loved01.com

Try the hydration essentials or the loved trio.

Best wishes for a moisturized winter :-)

Dr Andy

Smooth Skin Laser proudly supports the mission of Young Life in Charlottesville with a share of all revenue.