The amount of the pigment called melanin your body produces determines your skin color and how you should care for your skin. Skin care for black men involves the usual daily care prescribed for everyone, but some additional measures need to be taken that relate to the characteristics of black skin and hair.
Daily Skin Care
As for everyone else, daily skin care for black men involves cleansing and moisturizing. Harsh soaps and frequent use of hot water for long baths and showers can remove too much oil from your skin. Bathe in lukewarm water, limit bathing time to 15 minutes once a day and use a mild soap to avoid dry, flaky skin. The American Osteopathic College of Dermatology recommends that if you need to use deodorant soap and you have dry skin, use the deodorant soap on your underarms, feet and genital area and use a milder soap on the rest of your body. Pat your skin dry after bathing so moisture remains on your skin, and apply moisturizer while your skin is damp to retain the moisture.
While dark-skinned people are less likely to develop skin cancer than lighter-skinned individuals, they have a disproportionately high mortality rate from skin cancer because of late detection. The melanin in African American skin affords you with a sun protection factor, or SPF, of about 13.4; however, the Skin Cancer Foundation recommends that everyone follow the same guidelines for sun protection. Apply 1 ounce of SPF 15 sunscreen every day over your entire body at least 30 minutes before you go outside, and reapply the sunscreen every two hours, especially to your neck and the exposed skin on your head. Examine your skin at least once a month for moles, discoloration and spots, paying particular attention to your feet, hands and fingernails.
Avoid Razor Bumps
Pseudofolliculitis barbae, or razor bumps, affects about 60 percent of black men, according to the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology. Razor bumps occur when close shaving of tightly curled facial hair results in ingrown hairs. The ingrown hairs cause unsightly and often painful razor bumps, which can cause inflammation and scarring. Avoid razor bumps by shaving less often, shaving in the direction your hair grows, using a clipper for a less close shave or using special razors designed to prevent razor bumps. Treat existing razor bumps by avoiding shaving for about four weeks and using a prescription cortisone cream on the affected areas of your face.
Prevent Acne Keloidalis Nuchae
Acne keloidalis nujchae, or AKN, refers to razor bumps that occur on the back of the neck. According to BrownSkin.net, AKN is probably caused by close shaving and ingrown hairs, just like razor bumps on the face. Close shaving on the back of the neck often causes nicks and cuts that contribute to the problem. Fading, a style of haircut, also causes AKN. Avoid close cuts that irritate the skin and cause ingrown hairs. Treat AKN with topical retinoids or antibiotics. Cortisone injections can help with keloids.
Moisturize daily, but avoid moisturizers that contain dyes, fragrances and lanolin if you have sensitive skin. Darker skin can be sensitive to perfumes and chemicals. Ask your doctor about moisturizers if your skin is oily.
Gail Sessoms, a grant writer and nonprofit consultant, writes about nonprofit, small business and personal finance issues. She volunteers as a court-appointed child advocate, has a background in social services and writes about issues important to families. Sessoms holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in liberal studies.