Visible ethnic differences include two main characteristics: the colour of your skin and specific structural features of the face. But whether you're Asian. Middle Eastern or Mediterranean. there is one common thread among the ethnicities - everyone ages.
Dark skin: People with darker skins age differently due to the photo-protective role of melanin. the substance that gives skin its colour. Melanin acts as a built-in sun filter and stalls the signs of aging.
While darker skin types ultimately do develop wrinkles. these conditions occur 10 to 20 years later than in people with lighter skin. However. this doesn't mean that dark skin doesn't need to be properly cared for. Sunscreen and antioxidants (vitamins A. C and E) are necessary to protect the skin from collagen breakdown that results from the free radical damage caused by sun exposure.
Darker skin may resist wrinkles longer because of its colour and thickness. but people with darker skin are predisposed to dynamic wrinkles. These wrinkles are apparent when expressions are made. but are not visible when the face is at rest. The African-American and Asian skeletal support systems often do not effectively hold up the thicker skin in the mid face. leading to earlier signs of ageing in this area - namely in the nasolabial folds.
When it comes to treatments for skins of colour. darker skin has a higher risk of keloid (red. so carefully consider non-surgical options for rejuvenation.
When it comes to fillers. stick to clear hyaluronic acid fillers. which will not alter skin tone. Those with darker skin must be very cautious when considering laser treatment. Most non-ablative lasers (and IPL) can be used safely. but it's imperative to find a provider experienced in treating skin of colour. Ablative lasers (those that remove the upper layers of skin) or mechanical resurfacing (like dermabrasion) are not a good choice for darker skin types. due to increased risk of pigmentation changes.
Fair skin: Fairer ethnicities anatomically have thinner skin than those with darker complexions. Because fair skin is thinner and lighter in colour. it allows for UV rays from the sun to penetrate more easily and deeply. As a result. skin loses moisture more readily and collagen breaks down more rapidly than in thicker skins of colour. The breakdown of collagen causes lighter skin to develop more static wrinkles (those that are visible regardless of facial expression) at a younger age and also contributes to the skin's loss of firmness.
The key to preventing ageing in fair skin is defending it from environmental aggressors with daily sun protection. antioxidant use and proper moisture maintenance.
Without these protections. fair skin is prone to texture and pigment changes that result from UV damage. These defects in the skin can be treated with an ongoing skin-care programme provided and monitored by a knowledgeable professional as well as with IPL. chemical peels and laser treatments. Fair. thinner skin is also more likely to show defects like acne scarring. liver spots and even dark shadows. These are all treatable conditions. but the best treatment is prevention.
As easily as fair skin shows sun damage. it is also more prone to visible bruising after the use of injectables or redness after light-based treatments. Non-ablative lasers and IPL are a great solution for improving visible pigmentation irregularities and other defects. but beware: Some fair skin types can produce excess melanin (hyper pigmentation) in response to light-based treatments.
Marie Kuechel is an editor of New Beauty. a semi-annual magazine about cosmetic enhancement. Robert Singer is a medical doctor. Reach them at editors (at)newbeauty.

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