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The science behind the saying; ‘black don’t crack,’ what the melanin-rich skin experts say about ageing.

Following on from our guide to achieving the skin of your dreams, at any age, we’re back with another short narrative on how exactly melanin-rich skin ages, while taking a look behind the infamous expression, ‘black don’t crack.’ Where does it come from, and is it even scientifically factual? We’ve enlisted the help of our co-founder and board-certified Dermatologist, Dr. Carlos A. Charles, MD., to set the record straight, once and for all.


‘Black don’t crack,’ can science back this up?


‘You look so young for your age!’ There’s a chance you’ve heard this, and you’ve probably replied with, ‘well, black don’t crack.’ But how true is this common expression? Let’s take a look at the science behind skin ageing to find out. 


There are two categories of ageing; extrinsic and intrinsic. Less characterised by epidermal changes, intrinsic ageing results in the gradual loss of collagen over time, with the added decrease in facial volume in areas such as the cheeks, temples, jawline, and neck, as well as deep wrinkles and folds. This form of ageing primarily affects those with lighter skin tones, which the mainstream beauty industry continues to focus on. Extrinsic ageing is a result of daily UV light exposure, pollution, blue light exposure, and environmental stressors. These external factors lead to a gradual breakdown of collagen, a gradual increase of pore size, hyperpigmentation, textural imperfections, an uneven skin tone, and complexion dullness, along with some fine lines and wrinkles.


But why does melanin-rich skin age differently to lighter skin tones?


Fine lines and wrinkles are far less common for darker skin tones, especially those with a high melanin content. We can thank these melanocyte cells for slowing down the visible ageing process that lighter skin tones primarily face, due to the inherent protection from collagen-damaging UV light and an extra 4 layers of epidermis to guard against elastin breakdown. Where darker skin tones do show signs of ageing however, is in the loss of volume throughout the face, such as the temples and cheeks, as well as textural changes. These changes can vary from increased pore size to rough skin texture, along with the addition of hyperpigmentation and sun spots, as seen with extrinsic ageing.


What can we do to fight the early signs of ageing?


The earliest signs of ageing can manifest in the gradual increase of pore size and persistent hyperpigmentation. And although these dark spots and marks may have faded quickly and relatively easy earlier on in life, they can become more noncompliant towards treatment over time, as well as sticking around for much longer. Additionally, darker skin tones can also become duller in appearance due to a slowing of the skin cell turnover rate. 


Some of the best ways to fight the early signs of ageing, is to consistently wear a broad-spectrum SPF 30 or higher, along with the topical use of retinoids, potent antioxidants, and a gentle blend of chemical and enzymatic exfoliation.


If you haven’t read our guide to getting the skin of your dreams, at any age, we recommend you head over there now to find out our skincare routine and ingredient recommendations to combat the early signs of ageing. Trust us, it’s worth the read!

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