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Everything you need to know about black skin

Author and aesthetician Dija Ayodele clears up some all too common misconceptions with Prudence Wade

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The beauty industry is finally releasing products specifically designed for black skin. Credit: Press Association Images

The beauty industry is finally releasing products specifically designed for black skin. Credit: Press Association Images

Press Association Images

Dermalogica Daily Glycolic Cleanser, £35

Dermalogica Daily Glycolic Cleanser, £35

Press Association Images

J’TANICALS Probiotic Safeguard Moisturiser, £49.95. Credit: Press Association Images

J’TANICALS Probiotic Safeguard Moisturiser, £49.95. Credit: Press Association Images

Press Association Images

iS Clinical Extreme Protect SPF 40, £66. Credit: Press Association Images

iS Clinical Extreme Protect SPF 40, £66. Credit: Press Association Images

Press Association Images

Liz Earle Superskin Alt-Retinol Booster, £26.25 (was £35), Boots. Credit: Press Association Images

Liz Earle Superskin Alt-Retinol Booster, £26.25 (was £35), Boots. Credit: Press Association Images

Press Association Images

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The beauty industry is finally releasing products specifically designed for black skin. Credit: Press Association Images

Although things are slowly improving, black skin has historically been something of an afterthought in the beauty industry.

This is something aesthetician Dija Ayodele has spent her whole career battling, and now she’s written Black Skin: The Definitive Skincare Guide (HQ, £20).

Even though there would have been a place for a book like this years ago, Ayodele admits: “I think the reception is better now. As a society as a whole, regardless of our nationalities and ethnicities, I think we’re much more accepting of the inequalities and imbalances there have been in the past, and we’re much more willing to work towards solving those inequalities.”

She credits the Black Lives Matter movement for helping move these conversations forward, saying: “Now is the right time [for this book] – if you don’t do things like this now, they’ll never get done.”

It’s an extensive handbook on everything you need to know about black skin, from potential issues to the best treatments – along with plenty of historical context explaining why black skin has been left out of the conversation for so long.

“For me, it was very important to place this context, because I also want the book to be an educational tool,” she explains, noting how black skin hasn’t historically been included in magazine spreads or beauty contests. “If black women don’t feature in them, then the unheard or unspoken assumption is that black women aren’t beautiful.”

The importance of improving knowledge around black skin can’t be understated. Ayodele draws the link between self-esteem and skin, saying she wants society to get to a place where happy skin is valued – rather than unrealistically flawless skin.

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“Because you have melanin, the door is always open for you to have blemishes on the skin – when you have an injury, cut, acne or eczema, melanin is going to flood that area and make the skin look discoloured,” she explains. “That’s the natural physiological make-up of black skin. So, happy skin is someone who accepts that’s how the skin works” – rather than chasing flawless skin through countless treatments and products.

The four products Ayodele says every black person should use…

1. An AHA

“I like a mix of alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs),” says Ayodele. “So, your glycolic, your lactic – to help give gentle exfoliation to the skin.”

Dermalogica Daily Glycolic Cleanser, £35

Eucerin Hyaluron-Filler Night Peeling & Serum, £38, Escentual

2. A pigmentation serum

“For darker skin tones, pigmentation serums are key, especially when we’re talking about fading hyperpigmentation,” Ayodele explains. “So, ingredient-wise, we’re talking about things like kojic acid, alpha arbutin, liquorice extract, some vitamin C, resorcinol – those are the ingredients we’re talking about that I absolutely will always include in a black woman’s routine – or a black man, for that matter.”

J’TANICALS Probiotic Safeguard Moisturiser, £49.95

The Ordinary Alpha Arbutin 2% + HA, 60ml, £10.24 (was £13.30), Deciem

3. An SPF

“I always include an SPF without fail, because I really want to stamp out the idea that black people don’t need SPF,” says Ayodele.

Hello Sunday The Everyday One SPF 50 Face Moisturiser, £15

iS Clinical Extreme Protect SPF 40, £66

4. A retinoid

Ayodele continues: “I will always include some sort of over-the-counter retinoid – either a retinol or retinal, for example, just as a means of improving skin cell turnover, pigmentation, the hydration of the skin, as well as stimulating collagen.”

Liz Earle Superskin Alt-Retinol Booster, £26.25 (was £35), Boots


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