When we talk about dark(er) skin, our mind automatically conjures a picture of African skin. However, African skin does not necessarily mean darker skin. It can be both white and dark (1). While the skin structure is the same for all, what make darker skin different are the melanin content and the barrier repair function. In this article, we have given a brief overview of the skin types that darker skin people have and the best moisturizer suitable for these skin types. Scroll down for more information.
Note: A study suggests that the dark African-American skin has a higher rate of transepidermal water loss (2). Hence, if you are an African, you have to be especially careful about moisturization.
In This Article
11 Top-Rated Moisturizers For Darker Skin
Key Ingredient(s): Retinol, Shea Butter, Vitamins B5 and E, Jojoba Oil, Green Tea
Retinol is an excellent ingredient for your skin if you are looking for an anti-aging cream. This moisturizing cream contains the ultimate hydrating ingredients like shea butter and jojoba oil, along with antioxidants like green tea extract. This retinol in this moisturizer boosts the cell renewal process, gets rid of old skin cells, and promotes the growth of new skin cells. This helps improve the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and blemishes.
- Safe for all skin types
- Organic ingredients
- Improves skin texture
- Packaging issues (dispenser may malfunction, and lid might break).
Key Ingredient(s): Ceramides and Hyaluronic Acid
This lightweight lotion is suitable for those who have normal to dry skin. It can be used on the face and body. This lotion contains ceramides. It helps replenish the low ceramide levels in your skin and keeps it feeling soft and moisturized. It ensures your skin stays hydrated for 24 hours and helps restore the protective barrier with ceramides 1, 3, and 6 II. It is hypoallergenic, so even those with sensitive skin can also use this lotion.
- Gentle formula
- Approved by the National Eczema Association
- Can be used by those who have eczema and sensitive skin conditions.
- The pump dispenser might break during shipping.
Key Ingredient(s): Aloe Vera and Manuka Honey
This face and body cream claims to keep your skin moisturized for 8-12 hours. It contains essential minerals, vitamins, and nutrients that keep your skin healthy. It helps repair the damaged skin cells, stimulates cell growth, and restores the natural moisture barrier. The cream also helps maintain the skin’s pH balance, stimulate collagen production, and improve elasticity.
- No harmful chemicals
- Suitable for all skin types
- Gets absorbed fast
- Some users may not like the thick consistency.
Key Ingredient(s): Soy
This is a daily moisturizer with SPF and is clinically proven to improve skin texture and tone in four weeks. It contains a Total Soy Complex (processed soybeans) that helps to even out your skin tone and retain the integrity of your skin. The natural light diffusers in the moisturizer reflect light to smooth skin imperfections. It is hypoallergenic and does not irritate your skin.
- Contains SPF 15
- No chemical solvents
- Clinically proven
- Strong fragrance
- Contains mica
Key Ingredient(s): Vitamin C and Fruit Water (antioxidant complex)
This is an oil-free moisturizer that instantly locks in moisture. It contains vitamin C and a Fruit Water Antioxidant Complex that make your skin feel smooth, hydrated, and refreshed. This face lotion is suitable for all skin types. However, it is especially beneficial for dry skin. It claims to lock in moisture for 24 hours and protects your skin from stress and pollution.
- Contains alcohol
- Contains artificial fragrance
Key Ingredient(s): Hyaluronic Acid, Peptides, and Vitamin B3
This moisturizing face cream is formulated with vitamin B3 and hyaluronic acid, two of the most hydrating and skin-nourishing ingredients. It is ultra-hydrating for your skin. It helps improve the rate of skin turnover and also remove dead skin cells. This improves skin texture and reduces the appearance of wrinkles. This face cream gives you visibly firm and smooth skin with regular use.
- Suitable for all skin types
- Strengthens the skin barrier
- Reduces the appearance of wrinkles
- Contains parabens
Key Ingredient(s): Snail Extracts
This snail cream contains the highest percentage (97.5%) of snail mucin. It is an extremely potent skin nourisher and moisturizer. It is ethically harvested, and no snails are harmed during the process. Apart from snail mucin, it contains aloe vera extract, jojoba oil, and shea butter. This cream helps reduce fine lines and wrinkles and keep your skin healthy. It is suitable for all skin types and works best for dry skin.
- 97% naturally derived ingredients
- Reduces puffy eyes
- Nice citrus fragrance
- Gets absorbed quickly
- Suitable for all skin types
Key Ingredient(s): Hyaluronic Acid and Aloe Water
If you have oily skin, this water-based lightweight lotion is the perfect moisturizer for you. It contains hyaluronic acid and the skin-soothing aloe water that keeps your skin moisturized for up to 72 hours without making it feel greasy. It gets absorbed quickly and has a gel-like consistency. Hence, it does not feel heavy on your skin.
- Reduces shine
- Quickly absorbed
- Suitable for sensitive skin
- Feels refreshing (especially during warmer days)
- The fragrance might be strong for some users.
Key Ingredient(s): Hyaluronic Acid, Sunflower Seed Cake, and Cucumber Extracts
This product is a part of the 3-step customized skin care system by Clinique. This moisturizing gel is developed for those with oily and combination skin types. It is primarily for balancing the oilier parts of the skin and keep it refreshed. The sunflower seed cake, barley, and cucumber extracts help in strengthening the natural barrier of the skin. These ingredients help improve skin resilience and moisture levels.
Key Ingredient(s): Shea Butter, African Black Soap, Tamarind Oil Extract
This facial moisturizer is meant for those with dry skin. However, it also works for combination and oily skin types. It is a lightweight lotion that contains shea butter and African black soap. It also contains tamarind extract and tea tree oil that help fight blemishes and keep your skin clear.
- Mineral oil-free
- No animal testing
- Unpleasant fragrance
Key Ingredient(s): Retinol, Peptide Complex, Shea Butter, and Aloe Vera
This cream contains retinol and peptides that can help the skin regenerate while you are sleeping. This moisturizer is rich in antioxidants and cocoa butter that keep your skin soft and smooth. It contains plant-based ingredients and is safe for sensitive skin.
- No animal testing
- Gets absorbed easily
- Pleasant fragrance
- The flowery fragrance might be overpowering for some people.
[ Also Try – Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cream ]
There is a wide color variability in African skin – it includes both white and dark-skinned people. The variation in color is mostly due to the geographic distribution of UV rays. The darker-skinned individuals stay close to the equator. Leslie Baumann, the American dermatologist, introduced four parameters for characterizing the skin type accurately (1):
- Dry or Oily (D/O)
- Sensitive or Resistant (S/R)
- Pigmented or Non-Pigmented (P/N)
- Wrinkled or Unwrinkled (W/T)
Out of these, dark-skinned people often have the P/T type (Pigmented or Unwrinkled skin). Depending on your skin type, here are a few parameters you can consider while picking a moisturizer.
How To Pick The Best Moisturizer For Dark Skin
- Consistency: If your skin feels itchy and dry, pick a moisturizer that has a thick consistency. For normal skin, creams with thinner consistency are fine. For oily skin, you can pick light lotions that are water-based.
- Ingredients: Choosing the right skin moisturizer is all about picking the right ingredients.
- For dry skin, look for ingredients like dimethicone, hyaluronic acid, glycerin, and propylene glycol as they help attract water. Ingredients like lanolin, mineral oil, etc. help to lock in moisture.
- For oily and acne-prone skin, look for moisturizers that contain AHAs and are non-comedogenic. AHAs also have anti-aging benefits.
- For sensitive skin, check for fragrance-free and hypoallergenic
- Look for antioxidants (for all skin types) like chamomile, green tea, licorice root, and pomegranate extracts to keep the skin healthy and reduce free radical damage.
- Check for ceramides. Dark skin tends to have the lowest percentage of naturally occurring ceramides in the skin (2). Fortifying your skin with ceramide moisturizers can keep it healthy.
- SPF: If you are picking a moisturizer for the daytime, make sure it has SPF. It is a myth that dark-skinned people do not need sun protection. While the high melanin content makes dark skin less prone to sun damage, it does not rule out the possibilities of skin damage by the UV rays. The damages may be less noticeable (like spots, pigmentation, and melasma). Dark skin is equally vulnerable to the sun, so never forget the SPF.
Your skin care routine does not depend on your skin tone. Yes, there are subtle differences. Dark skin might be less prone to sun damage and may age a little slower than Caucasian or Asian skin. However, irrespective of the skin tone, if you do not take proper care of your skin, it will turn dull and unhealthy over time. Moreover, the melanin-producing cells are vulnerable to any inflammation and injury to your skin. Hence, you need to be careful about your skin health.
Choosing a moisturizer for dark skin is not about the skin tone but the skin type. We hope that you now have a clear understanding of how to pick one for your skin. Go ahead and pick a suitable one from the list.
- OAO, MMO, and BIO OAO. “African Skin: Different Types, Needs and Diseases.” International Journal of Tropical Disease & Health. 1-13.
- Wan, Derrick C et al. “Moisturizing different racial skin types.” The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology vol. 7,6 (2014): 25-32.
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