Skincare Treatments & Ingredients to Avoid For Brown/Dark Skin

Home > Skin Care

Priyanka Chopra brown skin portrait paint

Most of the skin care products you see are made for caucasian skin. The skin of color is prone to Hyperpigmentation and breakout much more when compared to caucasian skin. Therefore, there are certain products, active ingredients and skin care treatments that skin of color should absolutely take no chance with in order to avoid their side effects that could cause hyperpigmentation in skin of color.


The skin of color differs from caucasian skin as asian/brown/dark skin tones have large melanocytes (cells that produce the pigment called melanin). These melanocytes are easily triggered and if we irritate those cells and the skin burns, it will lead to pigmentation. 

Skin Treatments to Avoid

  1.    Laser Treatments

Although laser treatments give great results for the skin, however when it comes to skin of color, lasers can lead to thermal energy scatter within the skin which can inflame the skin and lead to pigmentation.

  1.    TCA Peels

Can lead to Post inflammatory hyperpigmentation as it can burn the skin of color

Active Ingredients to Avoid


  1.   Glycolic Acid

Can lead to Post inflammatory hyperpigmentation as it can burn the skin of color. Glycolic Acid is a tiny molecule which flows through the skin and causes hotspots that burn in dots around the face. When that happens in skin of color, melanocytes are triggered and start to produce pigment (melanin) and can lead to Hyperpigmentation.

  1.    Lactic Acid

Although the most gentle forms of AHAs, higher percentages like 10% Lactic Acid is very high for skin of color. It is generally used to increase the NMF (Natural Moisturizing Factors) in the skin and to stimulate Collagen production. If you really want to use Lactic Acid, you may try 5% Lactic Acid and avoid it if you have sensitive skin.

  1.    Alpha Lipoic Acid

It is a very powerful antioxidant. It can feel oily on the skin and also give you a burning sensation.

  1.    Fragrance, Denatured Alcohol and Essential Oils

These are best to be avoided by everyone in general, but especially for skin of color, dry skin and sensitive skin types.

  1.    Polyunsaturated Oils

Chemically speaking, Polyunsaturated fats are those which have Hydrogen bonds that are incomplete which basically means that it is unstable. When this reacts with Oxygen in the environment, it can lead to free radicals on the skin. Free radicals are bad - they lead to sagging, wrinkling and pigmentation of the skin.

  1.   Silicone

Silicone can feel quite heavy on the skin and can aggravate acne which can lead to more pigmentation.

  1.    Hydroquinone

4% of it is the gold standard. However, for skin of color, it can lead to contact dermatitis meaning more pigmentation.

Best Active ingredients for Skin of Color

  1.   Niacinamide

It is fantastic for skin of color. It is non-irritating. Niacinamide prevents melanosomes (packets of melanin) from reaching the keratinocyte cells (cells in the top layer of skin - epidermis). This means that you don’t see the hyperpigmentation on the skin.

  1.   Salicylic Acid

Best form of Exfoliating BHA for skin of color. You get all the benefits of Glycolic acid with no potential irritation.

  1.   Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate

Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate which is an ester is a much more gentle form of Vitamin C for skin of color and much more stable that direct pure Vitamin C.

  1.   Retinaldehyde

Much superior form of Vitamin A than Retinol for skin of color. It is 20 times as effective as Retinol with no side effects. 

  1.   Ascorbic Acid

  2.   Alpha Arbutin

  3.   Rosehip oil

It is a great barrier that prevents trans epidermal water loss (TEWL).


  1. Marilla, Jojoba Oil, Shea, coconut oil.

Worst Famous Products for Skin of Color

  1.   The Ordinary AHA 30% BHA 2% Peeling Solution ($9 | 30ml)

The Ordinary AHA BHA Chemical Peeling Solution Exfoliator

30% of AHA for skin of color is quite high. The primary ingredient in this formulation is Glycolic Acid which is already listed above as the ingredient to avoid.


Comment Form is loading comments...

Table of contents