The South Asian Skin type
How is ‘brown’ skin different from ‘white’ skin?: A short guide to the characteristics of South Asian skin and ways of taking care of it
In recent decades, skincare has taken the entire world by storm- having a clear, healthy, youthful-looking complexion is the rage at an all-time high. With the mass production of skincare products, attempts to meet the demands of a vast consumer base come to a problem: catering to skin types of different races. For the past fifty decades, skincare products have been marketed to mainly the west, where, until recently, eurocentric beauty standards took center stage. As a result, thanks to international trade, one finds these products and beauty standards extend to South Asian parts, where the climate and one’s genetics make for a whole different skin type. These products often do not cater to the needs of South Asian skin, as they are primarily designed for lighter-skinned consumers of very different skin types. One’s skin color is only a fragment of the skin type equation; there’s so much more. The thickness of one’s skin, its texture, and its likeliness to react to certain ingredients define factors in deciding which skincare products one should use. The main question that arises is: how is South Asian skin different from Caucasian skin? And how should one tweak their skincare routines accordingly? Understanding the differences enables one to learn which ingredients suit their skin types and which ones they should avoid. Just remember: differences in skin types result from many factors and in no way deem one type superior over the other. All skin types are beautiful, and one’s main goal should be to boost skin health; the first step to that is by embracing one’s skin and what sets it apart.
Caucasian Skin vs. South Asian skin: are they that different?
South Asian skin is much more susceptible to irritation and inflammation from light exposure, heat, and applying certain reactive products to the skin. The reason for that is, South Asian skin has a thinner stratum corneum (the outermost layer of skin), compared to other ethnic groups. Consequently, the skin becomes more sensitive to environmental factors which can disrupt the skin’s pH balance. Therefore, South Asian skin is more likely to experience redness, blotchiness, and even severe skin conditions such as eczema. That is not to say Caucasian skin is not sensitive- certain factors are always likely to irritate. However, South Asian skin is likelier to experience such reactions from environmental and product influences.
Prone-ness to Acne
South Asian skin is markedly more prone to Acne compared to Caucasian skin. That is more production of sebum, an oily substance that acts as the body’s natural moisturizer. Due to increased oiliness and pollution in some of the major cities in the region, acne is more likely to be spotted on South Asian skin.
Skin thickness and visible effects of aging
Caucasian skin has proved to be of a lower thickness than South Asian skin, perhaps due to the difference in collagen. As a result, South Asian skin is more resistant to the visible signs of aging than Caucasian skin, which may be subjected to wrinkles at a younger age.
South Asians have tend to be more susceptible to hyperpigmentation compared to Caucasians. All skin types have about the same number of melanocytes, cells that produce melanin that contribute to one’s skin color. However, for certain skin types, particularly for those that fall on the darker end of the spectrum, there is a larger production of melanin. South Asians tend to produce excessive melanin, which we see accumulating around their mouths, under their eyes, along their cheekbones etc.
Caucasians tend to have tighter pores, giving the appearance of smoother, more even-toned skin, which is furthered by their skin type generally being lesser oily than South Asian skin. South Asian skin tends to have larger pores, which result from more hair follicles on the skin, which South Asians have plenty of.
Okay, now what?: How one’s skin care practices could be tweaked accordingly
Ways to counter Skin-related issues for South Asians
Invest in good SPF!
Although South Asian skin produces higher amount of melanin produced, most of which is ‘photo’protective’ i.e. afford greater production against sunli8ght, wearing sunscreen is still a must. Not only does wearing SPF help in controlling breakouts and slow down the physical manifestations of aging, it also helps with hyperpigmentation, an issue most South Asians face. Plus, with South Asians being exposed to harsher sunlight compared to most Caucasians, smearing one’s face with SPF becomes law.
Use of products that hydrate your skin
Some studied showed that TransEpidermal Water Loss (TEWL) was the highest amongst South Asians i.e. the amount of moisture lost through the skin under non-sweating conditions. The reasons behind this could be attributed to the temperate areas South Asians generally inhabit. Therefore, to restore the natural barrier of moisture in their skin, using products that hydrate the skin are preferable.
Using milder products
Using products that are mild on one’s skin would reduce any chances of breakouts, rashes or severe skin reactions and conditions such as eczema. Therefore, it is very important to make sure the skincare products one is using are free of substances that may cause reactions.
Use of toners
Toners help tighten pores, which may contribute to one’s skin and overall complexion looking smoother. They also help balance one’s skin’s pH, which is important in maintaining one’s skin’s natural protective layer. It prevents the growth of certain bacteria which may lead to breakouts.
Skincare on a molecular level: Dos and Dont’s when it comes to ingredients
Do use: Hyaluronic acid
Hyaluronic acid is a staple in skincare products that stand out for hydrating: it helps hydrate one’s skin and helps it hold moisture. It is milder in nature compared to other hydrating agents, which is a win-win for sensitive South Asian skin.
Do use: Ceramides
Ceramides make up part of the outer protective skin layer. If that layer is damaged, it can cause skin sensitivity, which South Asians are prone to. Ceramides help repair some of the bonds in your outer layers of skin so it's less likely to become irritated, which makes it all the more agreeable to South Asian skin.
Don’t Use: Scented Products
Fragnances are a no go especially when your skin is sensitive. No matter how appealing an apple & cinnamon flavored lotion feels to you, it could cause unwanted reactions on your face and cause redness. Therefore, it is better to stick to unscented skincare products.
Do use: Vitamin C
Vitamin C has some bleaching and brighetning properties that help in alleviating the effects of hyperpigmentation. Moreover, Vitamin C helps in improving collagen linkages within one’s skin to keep it more plump abd youthful-looking.
Don’t use: Alpha hydroxy Acid
While Alpha Hydroxy Acid works like a charm on some skintypes, it acts as an irritant on the other. For more sensitive skin types, it is better to use Beta hydroxy Acid which is milder in nature.
The bottom line
All skin types are beautiful in their own way and deserve to be celebrated. No skin products are one-size-fits-all since we all have our individual needs that need to be met. South Asian skin should be pampered with products that nourish and protect it, rather than products that are targeted towards a completely different skin type and may not be suitable. By avoiding certain ingredients and embracing the others, you can protect your beautiful, brown skin. Thus, Remedior Skincare is proud to position it self as the first Cosmeceutical brand in Pakistan which uniquely caters to the South Asian skin and climate conditions.