Aesthetic medicine caters to a broad spectrum of clients around the globe, irrespective of race, gender, or identity, making it an inclusive industry for all. Recognising this diversity, practitioners are called upon to not only acknowledge but also wholeheartedly embrace the varied characteristics of their clientele. As we strive for inclusivity in this cosmetic landscape, treating skin of colour clients with chemical peels both correctly and effectively, amongst other treatments, becomes essential.
In this blog, we’re providing valuable insights into administering chemical peels for clients with skin of colour. We aim to help practitioners enhance treatment outcomes for their clients while maintaining the highest standards of safety and effectiveness. Practitioners should adopt a customised and bespoke approach, tailored to the unique needs of each client they serve – particularly when dealing with diverse skin complexities. In aesthetic medicine, there is no universal, one-size-fits-all solution, emphasising the crucial importance of recognising and embracing individual differences when administering treatments.
Understanding Skin of Colour
In appreciating the diversity of aesthetics, it’s crucial to grasp the distinctive qualities of dark skin. Individuals with darker skin tones, typically falling within the Fitzpatrick Scale of 4-6, have higher melanin levels, making them more susceptible to pigmentation issues post-aesthetic treatments like chemical peels. To simplify, skin of colour produces twice the amount of melanin as white skin, distributed more evenly across the outer layer. Studies reveal that melanocyte cells, responsible for melanin production, are larger and more active in skin of colour. Additionally, darker skin experiences a slower breakdown of melanosomes, the structures handling melanin distribution as they age. Understanding these features is essential for a more inclusive beauty approach. From wholly understanding the physiology of skin of colour to also considering other factors like cultural influences, myths, and expectations, practitioners must be well-informed to offer superior, tailored services meeting the diverse needs of all clients who enter their clinics.
Skin of Colour vs Chemical Peels
“Skin of colour” is a term that refers to people with darker skin tones than the likes of Caucasians, including Asian, African and Native American clients. This classification is important in various fields, especially aesthetics; recognising the diverse needs of different skin types in of top importance.
While chemical peels are generally considered safe and effective for addressing various skin concerns such as wrinkles and scars, it’s important to note that they may pose specific challenges for individuals with skin of colour. Darker skin, which is rich in melanin, reacts differently to temperature, chemicals, and various dermatological procedures. Aesthetic professionals need to have a thorough understanding of melanin dynamics to customise treatments that address specific concerns without compromising skin health.
It’s crucial to acknowledge that people with dark skin are more susceptible to adverse effects from chemical peels. One significant concern is the heightened risk of hyperpigmentation, characterised by the development of darker-than-normal spots on the skin. Among the various types of chemical peels, deep peels tend to be the most problematic in causing hyperpigmentation, while lighter peels are generally gentler and less likely to lead to complications. A bespoke approach is essential to ensure that chemical peel treatments are tailored to the unique needs of individuals with dark skin, minimising the risk of unwanted side effects and promoting optimal skin health.
How To Prep Skin of Colour For a Chemical Peel
Like with any treatment, clients require tailored treatment plans tailored to their goals and conditions. This is especially crucial due to the diverse range of skin tones within this group. Our guide explores specific steps and precautions to ensure the safety and effectiveness of the procedure while addressing the unique considerations associated with skin of colour.
Conduct a thorough risk assessment before administering chemical peels. Darker skin tones are more prone to post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) and keloid formation. Understanding the individual client’s skin history and potential risk factors is crucial for personalised treatment plans.
Choose the Right Peel
Opt for chemical peels with ingredients suitable for darker skin tones. Mild alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) like lactic acid and beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) such as salicylic acid are generally safer options. Always start with lower concentrations and gradually increase based on the skin’s response.
Remember That Preparation is Key
Effective pre-treatment care is crucial for clients with skin of colour. While the approach should be customized for each patient, typically, skin preparation spans 2-6 weeks, depending on the client’s skin condition and the planned treatment. It usually involves a homecare routine with the primary active ingredients used in their chemical peel treatments. For example, if Glycolic peels are recommended, the preparation should incorporate Glycolic acid at a lower level than the treatment, allowing the skin to build tolerance for optimal results without sensitivity. Some brands have specific preparation protocols, while others rely on a broader range of products. Darker skin may require longer preparation and a slower increase in treatment strength to avoid complications such as hyperpigmentation or hypopigmentation.
Aftercare is crucial for preventing complications. Advise patients to use hydrating creams, anti-inflammatory products, and, most importantly, high-SPF sunscreen. Remind them to keep their skin moisturized for faster healing and better results in future peel sessions. In the two days following the treatment, suggest avoiding intense exercise, saunas, steam rooms, and swimming to minimise irritation and promote a smooth healing process.
Chemical peels are great for PIH, melasma and brown spots. The darker skin you have, the more prone clients are to these conditions. In the ever-evolving landscape of aesthetics, embracing diversity is not just a trend but a professional responsibility. By understanding the complexities of treating dark skin with chemical peels and implementing the best practices outlined in your training, professionals can elevate their services, ensuring optimal results while prioritising the safety and satisfaction of their diverse clientele.
Kemi Omisakin, owner of Koko MediSpa and a Nurse Skin Expert with 12 years of experience, told us: “The darker the skin your clients have, the more prone they are to post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. It is always best to increase the strength gradually rather than to begin too aggressively. A slow and steady approach is key in minimising inflammation. It’s essential to note that not all peels are suitable for skin of colour, and diverse skin tones require distinct treatment considerations.”
For better outcomes with ethnic and blended heritage clients, practitioners must understand their unique skin characteristics. This knowledge enables informed treatment choices, delivering excellent results for all clients. In aesthetics, a tailored approach is essential, emphasising the need for practitioners to undergo proper training for diverse skin types.