Wrinkles are an inevitable part of aging. But for some people, the process begins earlier than others. Wrinkles are caused by a number of factors – but could your skin colour be one of them?
Fair-skinned women over the age of fifty typically have more wrinkles than dark skinned women around the same age. It’s long been thought that estrogen loss as a result of menopause was the cause, but doctors now think that the melanin levels found in the skin is what causes the discrepancy.
All skin contains melanocytes, cells that produce melanin. Melanin gives skin its pigmentation, and also provides natural protection from sun damage. Light skin naturally contains an SPF of around 3 to 4, but dark skin contains SFP 13 to 14! It is therefore darker skin’s higher melanin count that makes it naturally tougher to withstand UV rays.
According to Nicholas Lowe, dermatologist and author of Skin Secrets, fair skin is therefore more prone to wrinkles, and will show signs of aging earlier. “Fair, dry skin tends to wrinkle more and earlier than its tougher, oiler and darker counterpart,” he explains. “This is largely because darker skin tends to have more surface lipids to seal it against moisture loss and more melanin which protects it against sun damage”. While it may seem a blessing to have more natural melanin, doctors warn that as a result, dark-skinned women are less likely to be diagnosed with skin cancer early, resulting in lower survival rates.
Regardless of the skins melanin level, wrinkles are a natural part of aging – so prepare wisely. Getting regular Vitamin D is crucial, but so is sun safety, says Dr. Corey Hebert. “Wear sunscreen and use moisturizer”, he advises, “because your skin is going to do what it is pre-programmed to do genetically”.