Black Don’t Crack: Can It Really Be True?

The old phrase ‘black don’t crack’ is considered responsible for the widely accepted concept that when it comes to aging, skin concerns like wrinkles and sagging skin don’t apply to the black population.

Can this be true though?

We asked the experts about the most common aging concerns for black and/or Asian and brown skin:

1. Hyperpigmentation

Dr David Presbury says most of the general problems of aging do not seem to be a huge problem in the black patients. ”In my practice, it is surprising how few black or Asian patients consider coming for Botulinum toxin (Botox) and fillers, yet we see them all the time for pigmentation problems and scars. Pigmentation has many causes and it is a major problem for dark-skinned individuals, particularly in our sunny climate. We can usually help it in all skin types.”

There is absolutely no “one size fits all” solution, he adds. For example, it may be easier to diminish hyperpigmentation following a burn than when it is due to melasma.

Chapman concurs: “Without a doubt, the most common presenting complaint in older patients with darker skins is the increase in pigmentation, rather than wrinkles. Typically, areas that are more exposed to the sun, such as cheeks, noses and foreheads, become darker as we age. The resulting unevenness in pigmentation is usually what causes a patient to seek treatment. Unlike fairer skins, this pigmentation tends to occur in patches rather than discreet sun spots.”

2. Skin texture and dryness

Enlarged pores are also of concern to black skins, comments Tatiana Shuvalova. Large pores absorb more moisture, so oilier skin (more prominent in black or darker skin tones) is naturally protected skin and therefore does not age as quickly (lighter tones are more concerned about aging signs such as wrinkles).

Some of the most prominent differences are that black skin has greater trans epidermal water loss than white skin, explains Gobac. This also applies for Asian skin. Black skin has a lower pH than white skin, which, in turn, should have a better defense mechanism against opportunistic infections from the skin surface. “Unfortunately, the rate of spontaneous desquamation (cell shedding) is higher in black skin than white or Asian, and this will cause easier blockage of sebaceous gland ducts and the formation of acne.”

3. Acne

Inflammatory acne is more common in black and Asian skin, and therefore will have severe repercussions for the formation of the hyperpigmentation marks that are left after acne healing. Those marks will remain for long periods of time and will often be a bigger concern for the affected person than acne itself. Increased granules in mast cells (cells in skin that are acting as inflammation regulators, for defense purposes) in black skin will make it more reactive to inflammation and infection, and could even be the reason why black skin has a greater tendency for keloid scarring, he adds. Click here to discover the sometimes toxic routine of dark-skinned women.

“However, with perfectly designed products, attention should not be wasted on studying and analyzing ethnic differences; it should rather be spent on analyzing the individual skin of each person, based on their own specific needs and problems, regardless of the skin ethnicity. This is the secret of good skincare,” Gobac says.

Click here to find out the possible link between skin cancer and the evolution of black skin.