The excess and recess of melanin pigment production indicate your skin type and complexion. If you’re a melanin beauty with a skin complexion ranging from dark caramel tones to chocolate brown and much deeper tones, then you’re classified as an individual having skin type VI. This classification is based on the concept of the Fitzpatrick scale developed in 1975 to estimate an individual’s photosensitivity.

Individuals with skin type VI mostly originate from African and Sub-Sharan roots. Their complexion ranges from varying shades of rich and deep browns to black hues. The beauty-based YouTuber Nyma Tang, and celebrities like Viola Davis and Naomi Campbell fall on the different spectrums of skin type VI. People with this type of skin always have dark hair and eye color. 

While as an individual with skin type VI, you have the most luxurious and beautifully distinct skin complexion. Yet like every other skin type, there are some certain issues that you might face. These are: 

  • Darker Pigmentation Patches due to Sun Exposure

The good news is that those who rock a dark brown and deeper tone do not suffer from painful skin burns. Since it is the darkest skin color the effect from UV rays is not as damaging as someone with skin type I and III. Additionally, dark-skinned individuals do not suffer from skin conditions like redness, hives; whereas they are also at a reduced risk of cancers related to skin. However, it does not imply that individuals with skin type VI are immune to the detrimental consequences of UV rays and sun exposure, entirely.

  • Rapid Tanning & Skin Discoloration

Many of the common problems associated with skin issues in darker people are manifested in the form of pigmentation, discoloration, and unevenness. Immune from quick sunburns, it is common for individuals with this skin color to tan heavily. Sun exposure during summers or harsh treatments like peeling facials results in severe pigmentation and hypopigmentation. These pigmentation spots come out in the form of extremely dark or light patches.

  • Photoaging

Although these individuals are at a lesser risk of skin cancers and sunburns due to sun radiations, they do experience accelerated aging and other skin concerns. The issue aging and wrinkling is commonly associated with venturing out in the sun sans any protective measures. 

  • Acne & Scarring 

With dark skin folks the persistent skin issues like eczema, and acne result in rashes, and pigmented spots. The formation of keloids and cysts are also associated with acne-prone skin in darker skins. People with skin type VI who are acne prone also experience textural irregularities such as pore formation and bumps.

  • Melanoma

One of the gravest skin concerns in people with dark skin tones is melanoma. It is a myth that sun exposure leaves no adverse effects on dark-skinned people. Skin cancers appear on the light-skinned areas such as soles, feet, and palms.

On the Fitzpatrick skin complexion scale, the people of color most commonly belonging to the
the brown-skinned group are categorized in the skin type V. People on this skin type spectrum are
darker than olive-skinned individuals, and lighter in complexion than those with deep brown
tones. Skin complexion in this category range from warm gold hues to deep caramel browns. If
you are one of those individuals belonging to skin type V, then you are blessed with warm-toned,
brown skin with hues of gold streaks and deep undertones.
People with African American ethnicities and Asian, Middle Eastern roots mostly rock this skin
type. The famous people who fall under this skin tone radar are Beyonce, Tyra Banks, and
Mindy. All these ladies rock the deep brown tones that look quite glowing and radiant.
People with such skin tone mostly have luminous skin. Although not everyone is blessed with
flawless skin, and some skin concerns are common for each skin type. Some of them are as

* Adverse Effects of Sun Exposure
Individuals with skin type V do not burn with sun exposure, yet they tan extremely easily. Sun
exposure among these individuals results in slight skin darkening as it causes rapid production of
melanin. So, although you are safe from sunburns, dark tans and pigmentation can definitely
impact your skin negatively. In fact, the tanning due to sunburns mostly occurs as even darker
spots than your own skin complexion.

* Pigmentation & Aging
The pigmentation due to sunlight mostly affects the exposed areas and face. It is common for
brown-skinned people to notice darkened areas around the mouth, forehead, and on the hollows
of cheeks. The visible signs of sun exposure in brown-skinned individuals are accelerated
photoaging, fine line formation, and sunspots.
 Risk of Skin Cancer
Additionally, the risk of skin cancer among skin type V due to sun radiation is quite low.
Therefore, it is essential for even people of color to opt of sun protection to avoid skin conditions
in the longer run.

* Skin Dullness & Uneven Skin Tone
However, they are not prone to uneven skin tone, pigmentation, and dullness. Excessive sun
exposure without protective measures majorly results in uneven and patchy skin tone. Other than a sunburn, discoloration and uneven skin tone is also observed in individuals of skin type V due
to harsh chemical treatments, acid peels, and lack of proper skin hydration.

* Post-inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIH)
Another common and persistent issue is the reaction of melanin stimulation caused due to
common skin grievances such as acne, eczema, sebum irregularities, and dermatitis. The melanin
overproduction causes Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation that results in dark patches and
stains. PIH is a worsening skin condition that takes a long time to heal and requires active care
and prevention.

* Scarring & Acne
While it is a great thing that people with brown skin have regulated and enhanced collagen
production it also results in keloid scars due to scars and injuries. These scars take long periods
to fade away.

here are four essential components to maintaining healthy brown skin:

  • Knowledge
  • Self-examination
  • Protection
  • Nurturing

Once you understand the essential components for healthy skin, you will be well equipped to take care of your skin.

The first step to good skin health is being knowledgeable about your brown skin. We clearly know that the melanin in brown skin distinguishes it from the skin of others. There are several other distinctive but normal characteristics that may be present in women with brown skin. These include:

  • Futcher’s Lines – Lines on the upper arms that separate lighter skin on the inside of the arm from the darker skin on the outside
  • Mid-line Hypopigmentation – Skin on the middle of the chest that is lighter in tone than the skin toward the sides of the chest
  • Palmar Crease Hyperpigmentation – Creases in the palms that are darker than the skin on the remainder of the palms
  • Hyperpigmented Kerototic Palmer Pitting – Small pinpoint holes in the palms with a dark core
  • Pigmented Nail Streaks – Dark brown streaks running from the cuticle to the end of the nails. If, however, you have a streak on only one nail, it could be a sign of cancer that must be evaluated by a dermatologist.
  • Gingival Hyperpigmentation – Darkened gums around your teeth

The second step to good brown skin health is regular skin self-examination. In general, brown skin is less susceptible to skin cancer, but when it does strike, it is often more deadly than in other skin types. Women of color (and men) must first be aware that they are indeed at risk for skin cancer and that early detection is important. Once every month, your skin must be examined from head to toe, paying particular attention to your hands, fingers, feet, toes, nails, and mouth, where melanoma-type skin cancers are more likely to appear in people of color. Look for dark brown or black spots in these areas no matter how small. Pay particular attention to new spots or spots that change. The change can be an increase in size, shape, or color or a raised bump that develops within the spot. A bump on the foot or toe that is sore or does not heal is another tip-off for skin cancer. Be on the lookout for dark streaks or lines along with one fingernail or toenail only. If you find anything unusual, any area that you think might have changed or any particularly dark or irregular spot, see your dermatologist right away.

The National Cancer Institute recommends these steps for checking your skin for signs of cancer. After a bath or shower, use a full-length or hand-held mirror to check all areas—including your hands, feet, nails, back, scalp, buttocks, and genitals.

  1. Look at the front and back of your body in the mirror, then raise your arms and look at the left and right sides.
  2. Bend your elbows and look carefully at your palms, your forearms, including the undersides, and your upper arms.
  3. Examine the back and front of your legs. Also, look between the buttocks and around the genital area.
  4. Sit and closely examine your feet, including the soles and the spaces between the toes.
  5. Look at your face, neck, and scalp. You may want to use a comb to move hair so that you can see better.

The third step in ensuring healthy brown skin is protected from the sun. Though the average woman with brown skin has a natural SPF of 13 (which means you can stay in the sun without burning 13 times longer than a woman with white skin), we still need to include sunscreen in our daily skincare routine for healthy skin. Sunscreens work by absorbing the harmful ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays before they can affect the skin. Sunblocks create a protective barrier that reflects UV rays, causing them to bounce off the skin. For most women of color, a sunscreen with an SPF 15 (which means you can stay in the sun 15 times longer without burning) is sufficient, but if you have certain medical conditions, such as lupus, or take certain medications, or have dark marks or skin discolorations, you may need a sunscreen with an SPF 30. Look for broad-spectrum products containing ingredients that protect the skin from both UVA and UVB rays.

Sunscreen Tips

  • All women with brown skin should use sunscreen daily
  • Always apply sunscreen 20 minutes before you’re exposed to the sun to allow your skin to absorb the product and create a protective shield.
  • Use sunscreen generously on all exposed skin—face, neck, and hands. Apply at least a shot-glass full (about one ounce).
  • Store sunscreen away from the sun and heat to prevent spoiling.
  • Reapply it after vigorous exercise or swimming even if the product is labeled “waterproof”.
  • Take note of expiration dates. If a bottle does not have an expiration date, toss it after one year.
  • Sunscreen in foundation wears off after only a couple of hours so it’s best to apply sunscreen separately, under makeup, or in moisturizers that say SPF 15 on the label.
  • Sunscreen formulations include creams, lotions, sprays, gels, roll-ons, and moisturizers. Find a product that meets your personal preference.

The final step to care for healthy brown skin is to nurture your skin. It is important to avoid irritants that may stimulate the production of excessive melanin. Ingredients in soaps, cleansers, toners, moisturizers, astringents, anti-aging products, and anti-acne agents to name just a few, are possible irritants. The following is a list of potential irritants to avoid:

  • Cleansers, toners or astringents containing alcohol, propylene glycol, fragrance, or dyes
  • Products containing essential oils (concentrated oil extracts from plants)
  • Moisturizers containing fragrance, lanolin, dye, alcohol or propylene glycol
  • Sunscreens containing fragrance, oil, PABA
  • Makeups containing oil
  • Alpha-hydroxy acid in high concentrations or at certain pHs
  • Detergents and fabric softeners containing fragrance, dyes, or preservatives

Now that you are aware of ingredients to avoid in maintaining your brown skin, you can concentrate on proper cleansing techniques. Many women with brown skin make the mistake of over-cleaning—cleaning the face, neck, elbows, and knees too often or too roughly. But most skincare problems (acne, dark marks, clogged pores) are not caused by dirt, so there’s no need to use either harsh products or rough cleansing techniques. The following cleansing clues will guide you.

Tips on Better Cleansing

  • Cleanse your face daily to remove dirt, oil, and makeup
  • Avoid abrasive cleansers or cleansing products (puffs, loofahs), which can irritate brown skin
  • Cleanse facial skin with your fingertips and massage gently in a circular motion
  • Use products designed for your skin type: oily, dry, normal, combination, sensitive, acne-prone or hyperpigmenting
  • Exfoliate if you need to remove dull, dead skin cells by using gentle exfoliating acids found in skin products—but test the product on a small patch of skin first or check with your dermatologist.

Bottom Line

Finally, to properly care for brown skin requires knowledge of its unique structure and properties. Monthly self-examinations and protection from the sun are essential for the health of this skin type. Avoidance of products that irritate brown skin, and lead to dark marks, is essential.

Although brown skin is diverse, its unique characteristics bind us together as women of color. The distinctions between brown skin and Caucasian skin are numerous. Characteristics unique to brown skin include:

  • More melanin, or brown skin pigment, resulting in a warmer skin shade
  • Greater natural protection from the sun and lower risk of skin cancer
  • Fewer visible signs of aging, such as deep wrinkles, fine lines and sunspots
  • Potential problems with pigmentation, or uneven darkening or lightening of skin color
  • Greater risk of keloid (raised, often large scars) development
  • Problems with hair growth and ingrown hairs

Women with brown skin, whatever their racial or ethnic origin, understand one another’s challenges. Whether we call the discolorations blemishes or discolorations, or Mecheta, we all know that it will take months or years to fade.

We each know how socially devastating it is to lose the pigmentation in our skin (which is called vitiligo or Mal del Pinto.) It may prevent us from interacting with others and sadly, in some countries, affects our ability to marry.

These common experiences bind us together in unity.