Having melanin-rich skin myself, I've often wondered if the products I'm using are truly the right match for my tone, texture, and general skincare challenges. Truth be told, there's no shortage of amazing products out there that are effective and loved by many, but when I try them for myself, the results just don't quite come through.
Many serums, lotions, and other potions say they're designed for all skin types, and that may be true, there's just another layer to Black and Brown skin that sometimes gets overlooked. Melanin-rich tones are more susceptible to things like dark spots (relatable) and uneven tone. This just means we need a little extra TLC from time to time and, of course, the right skincare routine. That's why I decided to ask Black skin experts (they get it) for what they use to keep everything from acne to hyperpigmentation at bay. Read on below for the tried and true products they swear by that help them overcome their biggest skincare challenges.
1. SkinCeuticals Eye Balm
Co-founder and CPO of Common Heir, Angela Ubias, uses this eye balm daily to help with eye eczema. "I've struggled with eye eczema since I was a teenager," she says. "I never quite knew what the flare-ups were until recently, and over the years, I've found a couple of amazing products [including this one] that soothe the irritation and inflammation caused by them."
2. La Roche-Posay Lipikar Soothing Eczema Cream
Another staple she uses for more serious flare-ups is this soothing cream from La Roche-Posay. She uses a small dab of it along with Kiramoon's Moon Globes ($42) to further cool and soothe any irritation.
3. Common Heir 10% Vitamin C Serum
If you struggle with dull skin, boy, has Ubias got a product for you. "Although I consider myself blessed by the genetic gods when it comes to even skin tone and texture (thanks mom and grandma!), I do [have] dull skin. Because I have very yellow undertones, I find my complexion can look quite dull and flat without consistent use of a great brightening serum. That's why this vitamin C serum is my holy grail when it comes to my skincare routine."
4. Eminence Organics Stone Crop Cleansing Oil
To combat winter dryness, Ubias loves this cleansing oil. "I love using a gentle cleanser like this one as opposed to a gel cleanser because it prevents over-drying and doesn't strip my skin the way that some gel cleansers can."
5. Dr. Barbara Sturm Face Mask
For a deeper hydration treatment, Ubais reaches for Dr. Barbara Sturm's mask once a week for an instant moisture boost.
6. Clean Circle Bamboo Charcoal Makeup Remover Pads
Niambi Cacchioli, founder of Pholk Beauty, is willing to reveal a common struggle that's rarely talked about. "Let's talk facial hair. Oh, yes, I'm going there! I went natural in my twenties and love the styling versatility of having thick, coily hair. That same texture grows out of my pores and for years I struggled with a cycle of hair removal and ingrown hairs. Ingrowns occur when the hair curls back into the skin and continues to grow in the wrong direction.
When inflamed, they can be painful and almost always leave a dark mark on my skin. To help, I trim hairs with facial scissors to space out hair removal times and I use these bamboo charcoal pads for absolutely everything! Once a week, I gently massage my chin area with a pad while I'm in the shower as a gentle manual exfoliation."
7. Pholk Beauty Aloe Lemon Balm Mist
Cacchioli dowses her makeup pads in this soothing mist to press into her chin and jawline. "It gets rid of dirt and bacteria that build up around hairs, hydrates my textured skin, and leaves it soft and smooth."
8. Hyper Skin Brightening Dark Spot Vitamin C Serum
CEO and founder of Hyper Skin, Desiree Verdejo, has struggled with acne since she was a teen. "It has both calmed down and exploded at different times in my life," she shares. "It got really bad when I became a new mom, and the scarring that followed is something that I've always found to be my biggest skincare challenge. I've tried all different types of products, and some of my favorite products that have really worked for me include vitamin C. Hyper Skin's serum really targets hyperpigmentation without causing any skin irritation."
9. Obagi Medical Retinol 1.0
Verdejo's go-to retinol cream would have to be Obagi's because it's gentle yet extremely effective.
10. Black Girl Sunscreen Moisturizing Sunscreen Lotion
Verdejo (like most other experts) also can't stress the importance of sunscreen enough. "This is so key to help avoid further development of hyperpigmentation. Finding a good SPF can be a challenge, but I use this one from Black Girl Sunscreen."
11. Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen SPF 40
Verdejo also considers Supergoop! sunscreen another great option for melanin-rich skin. "It's been one of my go-to's for years!"
12. Anové Beauty AHA + Aloe Cleansing Gel
Evonna Kuehner, founder of Anové Beauty, has always struggled with extremely dry skin. "Especially during my first pregnancy," she adds. "To overcome the issue, I use Anové's AHA + Aloe Cleansing Gel to clean my skin without exacerbating the existing dryness."
13. Anové Beauty Immortal Rose Hydrating Toner
The next step in Kuehner's routine is this luxe Immortal Rose Hydrating Toner. It's beautifully scented and rich in plant-based ingredients like witch hazel extract.
14. The Inkey List Salicylic Acid Acne + Pore Cleanser
Board-certified dermatologist and beauty chemist Alexis Stephens loves using this cleanser for acne. "I recently started experiencing hormonal acne. To combat this I cycle my skincare and make sure to exfoliate a week prior to my period with mandelic acid to clear pores and nourish my skin barrier," she explains. "During this time of the month, the increase in progesterone stimulates oil glands to rev up on sebum production, which blocks the pores and creates an ideal environment for bacterial growth. This product always keeps bacteria, excess oil, and inflammation in check."
Another tip she has? Schedule a hydrafacial. "I also make sure to schedule them around this time, as this phase is all about detecting and defending skin issues."
15. Differin Daily Deep Cleanser
If you're like me and struggle with cystic breakouts from time to time, try adding a face wash with benzoyl peroxide to your routine. I personally love this face wash because it contains 5% benzoyl peroxide but is gentle enough for sensitive skin. It's dermatologist-developed and releases a gentle moisturizer throughout the day so it's not as drying as normal washes containing benzoyl peroxide.
16. Eadem Milk Marvel Dark Spot Serum
Lately, I've been using Eadem's Milk Marvel Dark Spot corrector and it is an absolute dream. Having melanin-rich skin oftentimes means you're more prone to dark spots. Ugh. This serum helps correct that issue in record time. Additionally, it helps with uneven texture and acne.
17. Farmacy Honey Potion Renewing Antioxidant Hydration Mask
For a serious hydration and antioxidant boost, I turn to Farmacy's Honey Potion. It truly never lets me down. It's especially great to use once a week if you use a retinol serum in your routine or other drying acne medication.
18. BeautyStat Universal C Eye Perfector
This vitamin C–based eye cream is something I always reach for. I tend to get pretty bad dark circles if I don't get my full eight hours (color me delicate), and this instantly helps lift and brighten that area so I don't look like a zombie.
19. Epara Skincare Hydrating Mist
Having a good hydrating mist around is absolutely key during the winter. This mist from Epara Skincare hydrates and smooths all while reducing hyperpigmentation.
20. Hanahana Beauty Black + Brown Exfoliating Cleanser
This powerful cleanser and exfoliator features black soap, a natural cleanser that helps clear out pores. It's great for those days you're feeling a little extra congested. It also contains brown sugar and rosewater to tone and nourish.