Asian Skin—Part Nature, Part Nurture

Asian women are often the envy of women around the world because they tend to look younger than their chronological age. Why are they so fortunate? Asian skin generally contains more melanin, so photoaging is less visible. By avoiding sun exposure, they can maintain a more even-tone complexion and their skin is less prone to the tell-tale signs of aging—like wrinkling and sagging.

What are some of the characteristics of Asian skin types?

  • Sensitivity. Asian skin is susceptible to discoloration from UV rays, hormonal changes, hot water, saunas, and steam. Asian skin also reacts badly to the use of some skincare products, moisturizers, and fragrances—all of which can result in skin reactions, scarring, and increased pigmentation. Try to avoid those products and/or conditions that cause problems, and begin sun protection at an early age. Look out for ingredients like ammonia, arnia, and sodium lauryl sulfate, especially if they appear at or near the top of the ingredient list. If these ingredients are used in minute amounts (toward the bottom of the list), they may not be problematic.
  • Pigmentation. Because Asian skin produces more melanin, it has a built-in SPF that helps reduce sunburns, but this melanin also causes more discoloration. Even though the skin may appear to be light, the melanin may reside in the deeper layers of the skin. This excess melanin can induce pigmentation problems, including sun spots, dark patches, and deep discoloration that is resistant to treatment. Dark spots on the cheeks usually begin to appear in the 30s and 40s, although they can also start to appear earlier. Unfortunately, traditional ways of treating these pigmentation problems (IPL, photorejuvenation, light chemical peels, microdermabrasion, etc.) frequently are not effective, and may, in fact, cause the pigmentation to worsen. Apply broad-spectrum UVA/UVB sunscreen with at least SPF 30 every day, rain or shine, regardless of whether you’re indoors or out, as UVA rays can penetrate windows. Not only will you reduce the risk of skin cancer, you will also help reduce the incidence of pigmentation problems.
  • Oiliness/Acne. Asian skin tends to have unstable sebaceous glands. Sometimes that excess sebum production leads to discoloration and scarring. Proper care and oil-free moisturizers will help. Avoid products made with mineral oil—it’s the oil most commonly found in skincare products. It’s also important to avoid the use of cleansers that contain alcohol, as that may cause skin to produce even more oil. And don’t make the mistake of using overly harsh cleansers—look out for ingredients like sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate, as these detergents can be very damaging.

The best way to treat all of these problems—sensitivity, pigmentation, and acne—is by stimulating the skin to rejuvenate itself and expedite cellular renewal. All of the ZO Skin Health products are based on this philosophy.

In more advanced cases, problem skin may require medical treatments such as peels and laser resurfacing. Ask your dermatologist or plastic surgeon what the best treatments and skin care regimen is for your skin.