Acne in melanin-rich skin

Acne in melanin-rich skin

Dealing with acne is mentally taxing for most people, but for people with melanin-rich skin, the dark spots left behind after a breakout often adds to the frustration.

Here's what you need to know about acne in melanin-rich skin – from when to seek professional help to how to treat stubborn dark marks.

By Emma Stenman, Certified skin therapist

What's different about acne in melanin-rich skin?

People with melanin-rich skin have an increased risk of persistent hyperpigmentation, known as post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH).

The skin has the same number of melanocytes in the epidermis (the top layer of skin) regardless of skin colour. However, for melanin-rich skin, the melanocytes (melanin-producing cells) are more active and also larger, which means that they can be more easily triggered to produce more melanin in the event of, for example, inflammation or damage to the skin. This can then lead to hyperpigmentation of the skin (PIH).

For these reasons, even mild and moderate acne may need to be referred to a dermatologist for melanin-rich skin.

What should I do to reduce the risk of post-acne hyperpigmentation in melanin-rich skin? 

Start treating your acne and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation early! It's also important to use sunscreen every day.

Ingredients that helps to treat hyperpigmentation include:


Niacinamide (the active form of vitamin B3) is an amazing skincare ingredient with an impressively long list of benefits, such as preventing breakouts and skin inflammation, minimising the look of enlarged pores, and creating a more even, brighter skintone.

Niacinamide regulates the production of melanin by inhibiting the transfer of melanin to skin cells. This both prevents new hyperpigmentation from forming, and fades existing dark spots. 

Common Clouds oil-free, non-comedogenic gel moisturiser Cloud Jelly included 4% niacinamide to effectively prevent breakouts, post-blemish marks and hyperpigmentation.

Azelaic Acid

Azelaic Acid is a must-have to prevent and treat breakouts, acne marks and hyperpigmentation in all skin tones. It also gives you a smoother, more refined skin texture.

Vitamin A / Retinol 

Vitamin A is an effective treatment for both acne and hyperpigmentation. 

Moon Balm is a deeply moisturising, barrier-restoring face cream with a gentle form of retinol (sodium retinoyl hyaluronate), several ceramides, hyaluronic acid and centella asiatica. In a gentle way, you get the desired effects of retinol without its side effects.

Remember to introduce products with retinol gradually. Starting slow also applies to fair skin, but for melanin-rich skin, irritation from vitamin A can lead to post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. Start 2 times/week and gradually increase.

The importance of ceramides for melanin-rich skin

Research shows that melanin-rich skin is typically lower in ceramides, and therefor more prone to dryness, so feeding your skin with ceramide-rich skincare will help  to maintain healthy skin.

Common Clouds' moisturisers Moon Balm and Cloud Jelly are rich in ceramides and sphingolipids that helps to maintain, restore and improve skin's barrier function to combat dryness. 

To get the best of two worlds, use Cloud Jelly as a daycream and Moon Balm at night when skin is in repair mode.

SPF – Your secret weapon to stop hyperpigmentation!

The most effective help for hyperpigmentation and preventing the appearance of new ones is SPF. Make sure to use one with SPF 30 or 50! If you find that you can easily get clogged pores from sunscreen, choose a sunscreen with a lighter consistency!

What about rosacea in melanin-rich skin?

Rosacea is a common, chronic, inflammatory skin disorder that primarily affects the cheeks, chin, nose and forehead. Common cutaneous symptoms include papules, pustules, persistent centrofacial erythema, telangiectasias, recurrent flushing, phymatous changes and a variety of ocular manifestations.

Skin diseases and conditions for melanin-rich skin can be a bit tricky to figure out for yourself. Unfortunately, rosacea is relatively under-recognised and under-reported in melanin-rich skin and part of this is because it is harder to diagnose.

The redness and superficial blood vessels that we expect to see are hidden by melanin, so they are harder to detect. For example, redness in melanin-rich skin is not red, but can be purple or greyish. Unfortunately, when these diagnoses are missed or delayed, there can be consequences for the patient, including more severe signs and symptoms, ocular rosacea (eye and eyelid involvement). 

Cloud Milk is made with 10% azelaic acid – an anti-inflammatory superstar with the unique ability gently tackle several common skin troubles at once. It's especially useful for acne-prone or rosacea-prone skin. 

Keloids – A concern in melanin-rich skin

Keloids are a type of scar that grows unexpectedly and can develop from any skin injury, including surgical scars, acne and piercings. Sometimes they form without any noticeable injury, which are called ‘spontaneous keloids’. These are rare but show that even minor, unnoticed skin damage can trigger their growth. These scars form as a result of an overactive healing process, where the body produces more collagen than needed.

if you experience keloid , you can contact your doctor for further help with treatment.