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Take retinol as an example;  it is one of the best-known skincare ingredients in the market. Retinols are vitamin A derivatives primarily used for acne and in the war against aging.

Retinol is an exfoliant. It exfoliates and helps increase skin cell turnover while stimulating collagen synthesis.  For many unsuspected consumers, retinol is the gold-standard ingredient. However, studies have found that retinoids can affect dark-pigmented skin negatively. Retinol is a harsh ingredient. As studies have shown, Black skin tends to be more susceptible to trauma or damage, including irritation caused by high-intensive-care products. This type of trauma can lead to hyperpigmentation due to the irritation and inflammation of the skin.

Because retinol is very harsh on the skin, scientists have developed an alternative ingredient called Bakuchiol, which our prospective customers will find in our skincare products. Bakuchiol is a plant-based ingredient that comes from the seeds and leaves of the Babchi tree. It is clinically proven to have similar results to retinol. Like its counterpart, Bakuchiol can improve the skin’s firmness and elasticity, reduces the appearance of premature lines and wrinkles. More importantly, it is safer for sensitive skin types, especially melanin-rich skin.

Retinol is not the only ingredient that is unsuitable for hyperpigmentation-prone skin.  Melanin-rich consumers should also avoid alcohol-based beauty products: alcohols such as ethanol, isopropyl alcohol tend to dry out the skin. Studies showed that transepidermal water loss is higher in Black individuals than White and Asian consumers.  In addition, melanin-rich skin often contains enlarged pores, thereby allowing those toxic chemicals to penetrate the dermis layer of the skin much quicker.

There is no such thing as a one for all beauty product when it comes to melanin-rich skin.  Black consumers must choose skincare products formulated specifically for them, preferably from a Black-owned skincare brand.

Skincare products targeting Black consumers must do two things: hydrate and protect the skin from inflammation caused by UVA/UVB exposure and skin trauma. Here at Beautélanin, we formulate our skincare products with a high percentage of humectants such as honey, glycerin, sodium PCA, Aloe Vera, hyaluronic acid, sorbitol, and hydrolyzed wheat, baobab, rice proteins.  Our products are rich in antioxidants, flavonoids, and vitamin D to protect the skin from developing sun damage or trauma-induced hyperpigmentation.

Natural humectants are a must-have in skincare products formulated for Black consumers

Skincare products for Black consumers must contain a healthy amount of humectants. Melanin-rich skin has a greater propensity to dehydrate due to transepidermal water loss. Humectants help solve this conundrum because of their ability to retain moisture. They also preserve the overall properties of the product at hand. 


Glycerin is the holy grail ingredient most in skincare products. Glycerin is both a humectant and an emollient. An emollient is a lipid used to help to smooth out the skin. National Center of Biotechnology Information (NCBI).

Glycerin is also known as glycerol is a natural compound derived from either animals or vegetables. We use organic vegetable glycerin in our products. Glycerin helps the skin cells mature and function properly by pairing with enzymes produced naturally by our bodies. The combination of glycerin and enzymes creates a signal that helps direct the cells through their life cycles. To put succinctly, the presence of glycerin signals for younger skin cells to swim to the surface of the skin, secreting lipids around more matured cells to protect the skin’s surface. Too much glycerin will most likely make the skin feel sticky. For that reason, glycerin makes up no more than 5% of the overall product’s total weight.

Sodium PCA

Sodium PCA is one of the most effective humectants available in the market; it contains pyroglutamic acid and amino acid. The skin, grasses, and many fruits produce them naturally.  All humectants help the skin absorbs and retains more water content.  Still, sodium PCA is better because it helps draw water to the skin 1.5 times better than glycerin and twice as effective as propylene glycol (not recommended in natural skincare products).

Sodium PCA  is also a film former,  a moisture booster, and a  potent anti-inflammatory.  It contains moisture-binding properties to help the skin looking plump and feeling smoother. Sodium PCA also increases the permeability of certain skin conditioning ingredients to the skin.

Sodium PCA forms about 12% of the skin’s natural moisturizing factor (NMF), consisting of components including amino acids, lactic acid, lipids, and proteins. Together, these components work to keep the skin’s surface healthy, supple, and hydrated.

Aloe Vera

As discussed in our previous blog, the plant aloe has two components: the juice and the gel.  It is also available in powder form.  Aloe Vera is both a humectant and a skin penetrator. Aloe Vera also has low pH; this is very important considering dark-pigmented skin’s pH tends to range between 4.5 to 5. However, an extremely low pH will most likely compromise a skincare product; as such, other ingredients with high pH have to be present when using Aloe Vera to help boost the pH in the skincare product at hand.


Honey’s composition is mainly fructose and glucose, with additional proteins, amino acids, vitamins, enzymes, and minerals.  It is a source of alpha hydroxyl acid, ideal for removing the top layers of dead skin to encourage additional miniaturization.

Hydrolyzed Wheat/Baobab/Rice Proteins

These proteins contain an amino acid named glutamine. Glutamine helps regenerate the skin cells. Therefore, wheat proteins are especially great ingredients to use in protecting matured skin.

Hyaluronic Acid

Hyaluronic acid is suitable for different skin types and climates. A natural polysaccharide (large sugar molecule) occurs in various tissues (skin, synovial fluids of the joints, and connective tissues).  More importantly, it is a humectant. It forms a breathable film on the skin surface. Hyaluronic acid helps lock the skin moisture while protecting the skin from dust and UV. Hyaluronic acid also promotes the production of collagen.

Calendula extract

Lastly, one of our favorite sources of humectants is calendula extract.  It is known for its reepithelizing and wound healing capabilities. Calendula also soothes the skin, great for mature skin, and helps to repair the skin.

In conclusion, I would like to reiterate that your melanin-rich skin must stay hydrated to prevent excessive dryness and trauma-induced hyperpigmentation. Since dark-pigmented skin suffers higher transepidermal water loss; therefore, Black consumers must use products that can help pull water/moisture into the skin while locking the water to the skin simultaneously.


Miller, S. (2013, Feb 5). The Benefits of Sodium PCA in Skincare.

Medical College Of Georgia. (2003, December 3). Glycerin May Help Skin Disease, Study
Finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 23, 2018.

Botaneri Drew: The Best Humectants to Use in Natural Skincare.

Sethi, A., Kaur, T., Malhotra, S. K., & Gambhir, M. L. (2016). Moisturizers: The Slippery Road. Indian journal of dermatology61(3), 279–287.

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