Keeping Skincare Human - Part 2/4 – How Much Does My Ethnicity Impact My Skin Characteristics ?

Your skin is made up of dozens of unique skin characteristics. Your DNA, your environment, your diet and even your quirky lifestyle – they all impact the specific needs of your skin.  In this 4 part skin series, to set the scene, in part 1 we explained the 8 main skin concerns In this article we will explain how ethnicity could impact your skin needs;  in part 3 we discover the importance of environment & lifestyle; and in part 4 we explain what you can do to treat those concerns and find out more.

Great skincare starts with understanding your skin’s specific needs and characteristics. The latest dermatological research shows that our DNA and especially our ethnicity, have a measurable impact on our skin, and how it responds to the environment as well as how it changes over our lives.

Dermatologists recognise that ethnicity is an important factor in maintaining good skin health

According to a review by Derrick Wan and his colleagues in the Journal of Clinical & Aesthetic Dermatology (2014)

“increasing evidence has shown racial variability in the physiological properties of skin, which directly impacts water content of the stratum corneum and [skin] sensitivity …… certain moisturizers may thus be more effective in some and less effective in others to treat the common condition of dry skin.

Skin colour is important for UV protection but also impacts on signs of premature ageing. Jean Rigal and his colleagues (2010) measured colour variation in four ethnic groups and concluded that this is

“very useful in improving our knowledge about the skin of people of different origins and helps in the development of specific cosmetic products that are well adapted to all these populations”

We consulted with skincare experts to review what current scientific opinion tells us about how some of the skin concerns we explained in Part 1; oily skin, blemishes, open pores, dull skin and dark circles around the eyes are influenced by ethnicity.

Oily skin, spots and blemishes and open pores

These characteristics are determined, in part, by our genetic make-up – combined with the impact of age, lifestyle and environment. Although there will be a lot of variation within different ethnic groups, in general, the incidence of these skin characteristics is higher in certain ethnic groups, generally in the order of:


East Asian & Hispanic

South Asian


Dull Skin

This characteristic is related to a person’s natural tendency to dry skin which is, in part, genetically determined.  There are specific defects in certain genes which can lead to a tendency for drier skin. There are also ethnic differences in the structure of the outermost layer of the skin and, as a result of these differences, some ethnicities have a greater tendency to drier skin. However, the appearance of dull skin is also influenced by background skin colour. So, although this results in a lot of variation, generally, dull dry skin tends to increase in incidence in the order:


South Asian

East Asian & Hispanic


Dark circles around the eyes

Eye socket structure varies slightly between different ethnicities and together with pigmentary influences this results in differences in eye area problems. South Asians and Afro-Caribbeans are prone to hyperpigmentation associated with under-eye puffiness and bags. Puffiness can be more obvious in Hispanic and East Asian ethnicities where the eye-socket tends to be more compact.

There is beauty in diversity

These are just a few observations currently reported on ethnic skin characteristics, but there is still a huge amount to learn about how this affects other emerging groups, for example mixed ethnicity. Mixed ethnicity is the fastest growing ethnic group in the UK. In 2016 this group accounted for 1.25m people, in 2020 this is expected to be in the region of 2m.

Your skin is individual. Traits in your DNA help to shape what happens to your skin in the future; a factor that is often ignored when it comes to recommending suitable skincare solutions. We are here to help you to explore and find a solution that works for you, as and when your skin needs change.

If you have any questions or want to tell us your skin story, then you can contact us using the comment section below or follow us on Instagram. We love to hear everyone’s unique experiences!

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