Is skincare complicated for you? Hyperpigmentation, or “dark spots”, are a common concern for all skin types and shades, but for people of colour, their treatment can come with unique considerations.

African-American, Asian, and Hispanic skin tones may be prone to more visible scarring and overproduction of melanin in response to environmental or physical skin damage. In Toronto, finding a treatment safe for dark skin can be a challenge when visiting a cosmetic clinic or med spa. Our expert aestheticians have good advice and helpful guidelines to ensure that you find anti-ageing and complexion-beautifying therapies that suit you, no matter where you fall on the skin tone spectrum. Read on to hear our top treatment recommendations for darker complexions.

Hey, Toronto, have you attempted to safely treat dark skin spots on your own?

You may be aware that some laser technologies offered for dark spot lightening are potentially harmful for dark skin. Examples include traditional IPL, which targets dark pigment and works best in contrast to target dark hair and spots where the surrounding skin is light. One of the leading reasons that people of colour visit a dermatologist or cosmetic clinic tends to be uneven pigmentation spots, also known as melasma. People with medium to darkly coloured skin may have this extra pigment triggered by any number of things. The causes of melasma include:

  • Acne
  • Insect bites
  • Product irritation
  • Hormonal changes
  • Medications
  • Injury

We know DIY is tempting, but beware of skin-lightening products if you’re not guided by qualified skin professionals.

The aim of a brightening product should be to reduce patches of darker skin or scarring that appear incongruous with the rest of your complexion. It’s not generally healthy or desirable to apply these products uniformly over the entire face or large areas of the body. Without changing your natural skin tone, problem spots can be reduced for an even, glowing complexion.

You may already know that it’s simply not true that black skin doesn’t need anti-aging care or skin-protecting products. Dark skin does form wrinkles and fine lines and is prone to a host of pigment-related issues that can manifest as dullness or blotchiness without regular, skin-loving care. Specialized, at-home treatments are often safe, but be careful not to squeeze, scratch, or apply harsh products when looking for a glow. You can have bright, radiant skin, and the Torgerson Clinic offers diverse expert skincare options.

Love your skin. Stay safe.

Unfortunately, some unregulated skin-lighteners can do more harm than you may realize. Health Canada and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration attempt to regulate toxic and untested skin care products. However, studies have found that some lightening creams contain steroids, mercury, and unsafe levels of medication that can be absorbed systemically or cause long-term, unwanted changes to the skin. Likewise, using a harsh, corrosive product on dark skin will not only produce short-term damage, but it may also cause discoloration and more problems in the long run.

It’s best to visit a qualified expert to safely target melasma or other problems such as acne, excess hair, wrinkles, and fine lines. We can create a custom solution for beautiful skin treatment, no matter what your shade of skin is.

Seeking a treatment safe for darker skin in Toronto begins with melanin-friendly products

At the Torgerson Clinic, we love retinoids. An excellent treatment for black skin and various tones is retinoids. They not only reduce hyperpigmentation, but they also help clear up acne and soften minor wrinkles gently. People with sensitive skin may experience irritation when initially applying Retin-A and retinol. Your skin care expert will advise a low concentration and once-per-week application to ease into regular use.

Is laser treatment recommended for darker skin?

Laser treatment for coloured skin tones has been off limits for the most part because of their method of action. Ablative (lasers that cause micro-injuries or remove cells) and chemical peels are typically not advised for darker skin (Fitzpatrick skin types IV to VI.) Here’s why this might matter to you:

Skin that contains more melanin is often thicker and firmer, which makes for a beautiful complexion. However, it has a higher association with risks and complications from injury of any kind. Lasers essentially cause controlled damage and rely on the natural healing process to restore healthy surface skin and collagen synthesis. Instead, Black and Asian skin can form hyperpigmentation, hypopigmentation, scarring, or other unwanted outcomes. That limits the laser treatment options for darker skin.

Microneedling is safe for dark skin in Toronto

This fantastic alternative treatment is beneficial in multiple ways and perfect for all ethnicities and skin tones. Micro-needling is promoted by medical literature as a safe and advantageous skin revitalizer for people of colour, improving a range of dermatologic conditions. These include acne and acne scarring, hyper/hypopigmentation, fine lines, and wrinkles. With an excellent safety profile, complications from this procedure are rare, and recovery is a breeze.

At the Torgerson Clinic, we offer V2 Beauty Booster technology with Redensity [I]. This microneedling treatment is combined with enriched hyaluronic acid (HA) and nutrient serums to drench the skin and feed it from the inside with long-lasting moisture and glowing health.

How is microneedling done?

The V2 Beauty Booster utilizes sterile, fine needles to carefully puncture the skin with shallow, micro-perforations. Your natural healing cascade is stimulated to create collagen and elastin, which increase firmness and resiliency and also smooth the surface. As the skin tissue is restructured, new skin cells are encouraged, and blood flow is improved in the area. We enhance your results with Redensity [1], an award-winning HA hydrating formula containing amino acids, minerals, and vitamin B6.

Non-surgical and minimally invasive, this fast, comfortable treatment doesn’t require any downtime. When you arrive at our welcoming Yorkville Clinic, you’ll be guided to your private treatment room where we begin with an application of topical numbing medication. Patients report that micro-needling is tolerable even without anaesthetic cream because the needles are so tiny and shallow.

The entire face can be treated within roughly 20 minutes, and you might see small red bumps linger for approximately 3 hours before they resolve naturally. After your microneedling treatment, you can just wash the face gently and return to daily activities. Our patients see the most benefit when undergoing 3 treatments spaced roughly 3 weeks apart.

If you have microneedling or other treatment questions, we’d love to talk with you. Our medical aestheticians understand all skin tones in depth and are highly experienced in a range of appropriate and effective treatment options. Call and book your complimentary consultation today!

Have you considered Ultherapy?

In Toronto, Ultherapy is safe for dark skin and all ethnicities. Everyone’s tissue will respond uniquely to thermal energy, but you can expect immediate changes and ongoing improvement as the stimulation of collagen changes your skin.

Designed to firm and tighten sagging, lax tissues, Ultherapy uses carefully directed heat energy to stimulate the natural elastic and strengthening factors in your skin. These grow over a period of 2 to 3 months after treatment, so you can watch as the benefits become more evident each day. For optimal results, you’ll likely be advised to have more than one treatment over time.

The best part about Ultherapy is that it requires no downtime. Our patients can leave our office and return to daily activities or work with no need to rest, recover, or hide out. Each person experiences the heat sensation differently, so if necessary, your doctor will advise pain management afterwards.

Neuromodulators

People from all backgrounds and ages love the wrinkle-smoothing effects of neuromodulators like Botox. Microdoses of the medication are injected just into the target facial muscles that we wish to soften. The result is a temporary reduction in the dynamic muscle movement that causes wrinkles and severe lines to form on the face.

You can reverse years of deep brow furrowing or crow’s-feet in a fast, 15- to 30-minute appointment. And the results will last for roughly 4 months. Not sure if this treatment is right for you? We welcome you to contact us and schedule a consultation with one of our expert physician injectors today.

Can people with black skin have chemical peels?

If your skin reacts to harsh products and treatments, then you may be understandably nervous about the practice of using a chemical peel to exfoliate and refresh your complexion. The good news is that there are light chemical peels that are perfect for African-American skin. Peels can improve fine lines and wrinkles, reduce sun damage, discoloration, acne scars, and breakouts.

What you’ve heard is true: deep peels are not recommended for dark skin. The products we use to refresh complexions are not all created equal, however. Treating melasma for dark skin types is especially delicate because post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) can develop as the skin cells are traumatized.

What causes dark patches?

Among people with Hispanic ethnicity, African, and various Asian backgrounds, melasma can be severe enough to impact their daily quality of life.

Typically, ultraviolet radiation is believed to trigger the darkened patches of skin on sun-exposed body areas, but genetics, birth control medication, and pregnancy can also prompt a sudden darkening. People with lighter skin types experience melasma as well, though it more commonly presents as widespread and severe in darker ethnicities.

Gentle chemical peels produce beautiful results

Derived from natural food sources like milk and fruit, chemical peels are carefully formulated to deliver safe, predictable cell changes. The mechanism of action for even gentle chemical peels is the exfoliation (removal) of unwanted melanin cells through the controlled destruction of the most superficial layers of skin. The affected cells slough off and reveal fresh, bright, and healthy cells. That creates a more even skin tone. The gentlest of these may not cause visible peeling or redness on the skin, but slight flaking or surface dullness before the old cells are washed away and new ones revealed.

As you age, the natural turnover of old cells to make way for the new cells slows down. This slowing together with reduced collagen mean that our blotchy, damaged skin stays in place longer and the natural elasticity suffers. Our facial skin needs a little help to gently remove the dead surface cells. Visiting a facial skin care expert can help you reveal a younger-looking, vibrant complexion without the worry of damage, darkening, or scarring.

We welcome you to contact the Dr. Torgerson Clinic or come in to visit us for more expert advice. We’ll customize a skin care plan that caters to your individual needs and beauty goals. Everyone can have revitalized skin they feel confident in. We can help you reveal yours.

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Dr. Cory Torgerson
Dr. Cory Torgerson
Dr. Cory Torgerson is one of Canada’s most talented and prominent facial plastic surgeons, focusing on head & neck facial surgery. Dr. Torgerson has been frequently invited to teach and lecture on these topics across North America. He has hospital privileges at Sunnybrook Hospital, one of the premier hospitals in the University of Toronto Health Network.
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