skincare tips
BY: LBL Team

4 Safe and Effective Acne Products for Dark Skin Tones

How to get rid of blemishes on dark skin

Yes, acne affects all ethnicities. But not all ethnicities can use the same acne treatment plan. Darker skin tones, in particular, are at higher risk of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. Why? When you get a pimple, your skin becomes inflamed. Your body tries to heal the “trauma,” and as it heals, it sends a bunch of melanin to the area. With darker skin tones, however, the body tends to send too much melanin to the area, causing hyperpigmentation. That’s because, in darker skin tones, the cells that produce pigment, called melanocytes, are more robust than those found in lighter skin tones.

Acne isn’t the only cause of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation in darker skin tones. You can also develop post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation from rashes, excessive sun exposure, and irritation.

Which acne products should you use?

Many conventional acne products, including masks, washes, and creams, can actually cause more skin irritation, worsening post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. Topical acne treatments, like retinoids, benzoyl peroxide, and salicylic acid, have the most potential to irritate when used on darker skin tones. So, which skincare products do dermatologists recommend when it comes to combating acne in darker skin tones?

1. Urban Skin RX Clear Complexion Acne Serum

This serum is formulated with a gentle low-concentration blend of benzoyl peroxide and glycolic acid, which helps control both bacteria and sebum production to curb breakouts while also fading dark spots.

2. LA Beauty Come Clean Purifying Face Wash

To combat acne, you don’t actually need to use an acne-fighting face wash. In fact, most of them can be super drying, leading to irritation and possible post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. Instead, opt for a mild cleanser, such as LaserAway Beauty’s Come Clean Purifying Face Wash, that removes all traces of oil, dirt, and makeup without irritation and is formulated with sensitive skin in mind.

3. SheaMoisture African Black Soap Facial Mask

This African black soap face mask is made using all-natural ingredients like tea tree oil, kaolin clay, and shea butter. Tea tree oil reduces acne-causing bacteria while kaolin clay soaks up excess oil, and shea butter soothes and moisturizes the skin.

4. Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid

This toner, which features beta hydroxy acid, not only helps dissolve oil and gunk from pores to help prevent breakouts, but it also sloughs away dead skin cells to reveal brighter, smoother skin over time.

What should you do if you are battling active acne?

The best way to keep your skin post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation and blemish-free is to see a dermatologist who specializes in working with darker skin tones. They can walk you through your acne treatment options. The longer you wait to seek out treatment, the more likely you are to experience extensive discoloration. And if you have cystic acne, the only effective way to treat them is to see a dermatologist, since hormones mostly cause them. Your dermatologist can prescribe a low-dose topical retinoid to help exfoliate your pores and keep them unclogged or oral medication, like Accutane, to minimize excess oil productions.

  1. “10 Tips for Clearing Acne in Skin of Color,” American Academy of Dermatology Association, n.d.
  2. “What Nobody Tells You About Using Acne Products on Black Skin,” Cosmopolitan, November 16, 2018.
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