Everyone wants soft, smooth skin, but varying skin types require different care. African-Americans often have unique skin care needs and using products for Caucasian skin may have negative results. The extra melanin in black skin offers sun protection but also makes it more sensitive and vulnerable to injury. Black skin is more prone to certain problems such as keloids and hyper- or hypo-pigmentation, discolored patches resulting from cuts, scrapes or illness.
Black skin is drier and sensitive than other skin types, according to the website Baby Center, so deep moisturization is necessary. Shea butter is a natural moisturizer with origins dating back thousands of years in Africa. According to the UCLA African Studies Center, many African women still export shea butter for use in skin and hair care products around the world. (UCLA) Apply unrefined shea butter directly to skin or use products, such as lotions and creams, that contain it.
African-American skin needs heavier moisturizers than Caucasian skin. One such heavy moisturizer that penetrates deeply into skin is emu oil. Dr. Barry Sears claims that emu oil can heal skin conditions due to its anti-inflammatory effects. Emu oil contains fatty acids called gamma linolenic acid, or GLA, which may soothe and heal skin inflammation.
Tretinoin, also called retinoic acid, can effectively treat hyperpigmentation lesions. According to a 1993 study led by J. Voorhees at the University of Michigan, tretinoin can reduce inflammation caused by darkly pigmented lesions on black skin. Low concentrations of topical tretinoin may also help to even out skin color.
Traditional black soap contains plantain skins and natural oils, such as cocoa butter and palm kernel oil. Black soap can gently clean African-American skin without drying it and minimize bumps. It can also be used to wash your hair. Beware of false products labeled black soap that are dyed black; traditional black soap is much softer than the hard bars of fake versions.