Yes, it's politically incorrect, but wrinkles and spots discriminate based on skin color all the time. Whites, blacks, Latinas, and Asians are all prone to developing lines, sagging, and spots at different rates and in different ways, but the way you battle back makes a big difference.
|Image Source: allure.com|
There's no crystal ball if you're multiracial, but it's not impossible to predict your future. "In general, your aging is going to depend on the prominent characteristics that you inherited," says Mary Lupo, a clinical professor of dermatology at Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans. Most mixed-race women's skin tone falls somewhere between their parents', so the way their skin ages will also likely fall somewhere in the middle. That means, for example, that if you're half black and half white, you probably won't see wrinkles in your early 30s unless you're very, very fair.
Aging clearly differs from person to person—and from heritage to heritage—but these are the top issues for mulitracial women:
• Midface atrophy. It's about as fun as it sounds: By the mid-40s, the tear-trough area under the eye starts to sag, making the cheekbones and middle of the face look flat, rather than plump and youthful.
• Pigmentation. "For people of mixed race, mottled pigmentation—where large, irregular areas on the nose or forehead are a darker color—is a big complaint," says Lupo. "And it's usually from not using sunscreen."
All right, out with it: "The fairer your skin, the more signs of aging you're going to have," says Doris Day, a clinical assistant professor of dermatology at New York University Medical Center. The sun—and pale skin's minuscule protection against it—is primarily to blame. UV rays break down collagen, causing wrinkles that can start appearing in your 20s. Your skin tries to fight back, making pigment to protect itself, and along come the dark spots. But there is a bright side: "Caucasians can generally be more aggressive with treatments since they don't have to worry as much about postinflammatory hyperpigmentation [discoloration that can pop up after inflammation and take weeks to months to clear]," says Day.
If You Do Nothing Else...
• Get a hardcore sun screen. "A Caucasian's innate protection is relatively low, so you have to do more externally," says Day. In fact, fair skin is naturally equipped with the equivalent of a mere SPF 3.4 (whereas dark skin has an SPF of about 13.4). "So at minimum, apply SPF 30 every single day," says Day.
• Use retinoids every night. Light skin may get stuck with wrinkles and spots, but there's one way to attack them all at once: "Retinoids increase make it smoother, and promote normal maturation of cells, which can help prevent skin cancers," says Day.
• Quit smoking. Besides the whole lung-cancer thing, "cigarettes are toxic to the skin, depriving it of oxygen and increasing the risk for skin cancer," says Day. That means for people who are already on the fast track to wrinkles (i.e., you, whitey), smoking throws the aging process into overdrive.
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There are light Latinas who age like Caucasians and very dark Latinas who age like African-Americans, says Maritza Perez, director of cosmetic dermatology at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Medical Center in New York City. "However, the great majority are beige to brown, and they show signs of aging approximately ten years later than Caucasians."
The main, near-universal complaint, she says, is melasma—brown patches of discoloration that appear most often on the cheeks, chin, upper lip, and forehead. (Women of Mexican descent tend to be particularly hard hit—approximately 66 percent will develop melasma during pregnancy, according to one survey.) Perez recommends a regimen of bleaching creams (look for those with hydroquinone, kojic acid, or azelaic acid); antioxidants like niacinamide, idebenone, or vitamin C to impede future damage; and the right sunscreen. "Melasma isn't just induced by ultraviolet light," she says. "It's also caused by visible light, and to protect against that, you need a sunscreen with titanium dioxide or zinc oxide."
"Some Latinas have used these home remedies to alleviate pigmentation, but they're a bad idea," says perez. "Lime and lemon can cause a phototoxic reaction that may result in hyperpigmentation, and cocoa butter is occlusive and comedogenic, so it can cause acne and postinflammatory hyperpigmentation. plus, they don't lighten skin."
Go ahead and smile—you can even laugh and squint if you want to—because you're probably not going to start seeing wrinkles until you're in your 50s. "The phrase 'Black don't crack' is true. The more pigment you have, the less you wrinkle," says Fran Cook-Bolden, an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City. And because of that extra melanin (and therefore built-in protection), she adds, "for women of color, wrinkles happen much, much later than for Caucasians." Like 20 years later.
You may get a pass on wrinkles, but you're not Peter Pan. Your two biggest issues:
• Sagging. "Black women experience aging with volume loss," says Cook-Bolden. Creams with peptides, like Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream, are the first step, because "they help stimulate collagen," she says. For the quickest, most dramatic results, a dermatologist can inject fillers to enhance volume or perform in-office radio-frequency treatments, like Cutera, to tighten sagging skin.
• Uneven skin tone. "Black skin has melanosomes, or pigment packages, within the pigment cells that are large and more widely dispersed, and they can react aggressively to the slightest irritation," says Cook-Bolden. To get rid of dark spots, she likes bleaching creams with hydroquinone (start with a 2 percent over-the-counter version, such as Ambi Skincare Fade Cream) dotted just on the spots in the evening. "Some people abuse hydroquinone because they want the skin on their face to be lighter all over," says Cook-Bolden. "If you routinely apply it everywhere, you risk your face being several shades lighter than your body." Dot the solution on your dark spots only, and stop using it as soon as those blotches match the surrounding skin. At that point, switch to something less potent, like glycolic acid or retinol, to maintain your results.
MIDDLE EASTERN/SOUTH ASIAN
Your Blessing: Thanks to the extrapigment in your skin, lines generally don't show up until the 40s, 50s, or even later. "Some of these women never develop permanent wrinkles," says Hema Sundaram, a dermatologist in Rockville, Maryland, and Fairfax, Virginia.
Your Curse: You still have a good chance of developing dark blotches from cumulative sun exposure, hormones, or irritation. To treat them, Sundaram recommends Elure Advanced Skin Lightening Lotion to break down melanin, or if you're ready for the next step, the eMatrix sublative laser. "It is a fractional radio-frequency laser that minimizes the risk of postinflammatory hyperpigmentation," she says.
Top Three Ways to Beat Dark Spots:
• Jump on the retinoid bandwagon. "It's often better than hydroquinone to treat perpigmentation, in this type of skin," Sundaram says. "Biopelle Retriderm Serum and SkinMedica Tri-Retinol Complex are good. You can use them with the Elure cream—just use the retinoid at night."
• Consider regular light laser peels. They can make a big difference, and they're fast. Sundaram's pick: The CO2RE laser. "It's a radio-frequency-activated laser that produces a controlled micropeel to restore skin's glow and improve hyperpigmentation, as well as prominent pores." For best results, she recommends five or six treatments, about two to three weeks apart.
• Beat breakouts. Getting acne under control will help minimize the subsequent postinflammatory hyperpigmentation [PIH]," she says. "I recommend cleansers with jojoba beads for gentle exfoliation, chemical peels, and prescription Ziana or Epiduo gels to treat both the acne and the PIH."
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Most Asians want to be lighter, more radiant, and luminous," says Jessie Cheung, an associate professor of dermatology and codirector of cosmetic dermatology at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. Asian skin naturally has more melanocytes (cells that produce melanin) than fairer skin. Melanin protects skin from sun damage, but it also can go haywire and lead to brown spots, uneven skin tone, and melasma.
To treat these issues, Cheung recommends a bleaching agent, such as hydroquinone or kojic acid, or pigment-targeting lasers. If you have brown spots, Cheung says, Elure Advanced Skin Lightening Lotion gives faster results than traditional bleaching creams. "This is a great breakthrough," she says. "It lightens the skin by breaking up melanin, whereas bleaching agents such as hydroquinone primarily prevent new melanin formation. You can use both—some of my patients do Elure in the morning and hydroquinone at night, which cuts down on the potential irritation."
Asians are also particularly prone to seborrheic keratoses, raised brown bumps that can be frozen, cauterized, or removed with a scalpel.
Lift and Glow is an anti-aging serum that contains effective ingredients like resveratrol and Matrixyl 3000, which helps in reducing fine lines and wrinkles. Follow this Twitter page for more updates.