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Sunday, October 12, 2014

Six things to know about our Asian skin

Since my last entry about Asian skin being less prone to getting sunburn, I’ve found more information about Asian skin type that might interest some of you. Keen to find out? Here goes:
1. Asian skin is more prone to sensitivity
Our skin is said to be prone to irritation as we have a thinner stratum corneum or the outermost layer of skin, compared to other ethnic groups. As a result, our skin becomes extremely sensitive to environmental factors and chemicals, which can disrupt the skin’s pH balance (source: Dr Anthony Rawlings).
This means: we need to be careful with what products and treatments we use on our skin as most of us may not react well to harsh treatments such as peelings or acidic chemical solutions.
2.  Asian skin scars more easily
Because of our thinner stratum corneum, it is also said that Asian skin are genetically predisposed to scar more easily than others. Hence, greater care must be given when one has acne breakout and when one is trying to heal from some skin scarring.
This means: do not go squeezing that pimple and poking at that acne. Use gentle products like emu oil or vitamin E to heal the scars.
3. Asian skin has more issues with hyperpigmentation
I read that all skin contains about the same number of melanocytes but the amount of melanin they produce varies. Melanin is a natural skin pigment that protects the skin from UV damage. Obviously, dark skinned people produce more melanin and light skin people produce less. While research have indicated that Asians have more photo-protective pigment melanin – Dr. Kwame Osei, who has studied genetics,  indicated that we have three layers of melanin – we actually have more issues with pigmentary disorders such as hyperpigmentation, melasma, freckles and lentigines, compared to other ethnic groups.  This is why you see lots of Asian cosmetics including skin lightening and brightening ingredients.  The problem I see with this is, because our skin is also sensitive, it means we have to be careful with what we use to correct some of these pigmentary disorders as well.
This means: use sunscreen religiously and use a product containing gentle skin brightening properties from your early twenties. Avoid hydroquinone!
4. Asian skin loses moisture more easily
Some studies have suggested that the Transepidermal Water Loss (TEWL) values were highest in Asians – Berardesca and Maibach (2002) found that Asian skin showed the highest levels of TEWL, as well as increased levels of permeability (source). TEWL is the amount of water vapor lost through the skin under non-sweating conditions.
This means: we need more skin hydration and it’ll be good to choose a moisturizer high in water-binding ingredients such as hyaluronic acid.
5. Asian skin gets oily more easily
It is often said that Asian skin has more sebaceous glands and is oilier than Caucasian skin type.  I guess this might have to do with the weather as well but it is generally true that most of us are constantly fighting to keep shine away from our skin. As a matter of fact, I have a greasy scalp because of very active sebaceous glands.
This means: our skin may get clogged easily and it’ll be good to exfoliate once or twice a week. In addition, do not use harsh products that will strip away our natural skin lipids and make the skin oilier.
6. Asian skin is more resistant to aging
While we have a thinner stratum corneum, we also have  a thicker dermis that contains greater collagen (source).
This means: our skin show fewer signs of pre-mature aging. YAY!
These information, while mostly based on research data, may not apply across the board to all Asians as it also depends on where we live. However, generally speaking, I think they make a lot of sense. What do you think?

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