Intelligent Beauty

Dr. Barbara Sturm on how to care for darker skin tones

The needs of darker skin are not the same as those of their paler-skinned counterparts – the increased melanin has benefits (greater resistance to UV-induced ageing, as well as increased elasticity) but on the flip side, darker skin is also more susceptible to inflammation, which can lead to breakouts, blemishes and hyperpigmentation.

Uneven skin tone and dark spots are arguably two of the key beauty bugbears for those with melanin-rich skin. Which is why {Dr. Barbara Sturm} worked to formulate products that tackle its special requirements.

The catalyst for creation was a conversation with actor and activist Angela Bassett, who mentioned that she’d struggled with her skin and so Dr. Sturm – taking Angela’s insights – made it her mission to learn more about the demands of dark skin – and what she found was that with increased melanin, comes increased inflammation (the ‘root of all evil’ in skin ageing terms). Which means, that if you meddle with a pimple, or don’t shield a blemish from sun and pollution, you wind up with post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation which results in a stubborn dark spot that is tricky to treat.

“[Inflammation] is, to me, the key factor to causing any skin problems, or any problems in our body” says Dr. Sturm, “but it’s principally responsible for ageing. Since African-American, or skin of colour, problems revolve mainly around inflammation, I especially took care in this range to choose real ingredients which a scientifically shown to address inflammation.”

Following two years of in-depth research, Dr. Sturm created the range to really address this additional anti-inflammatory need; it’s also antibacterial, great for evening-out the skin tone and the formulations are also designed for slightly thicker, oilier complexions – which melanin-rich skins often are.

It’s for Mediterranean skin, Middle Eastern skin, Asian skin, African skin… as well as paler skin prone to melasma, and it’s one of the first of its kind – leading the charge and inspiring others to recognise that, just like fashion, skin care is so rarely ‘one size fits all’. 

And don’t forget the SPF. It’s a myth that black skin doesn’t need the same UV protection and all skin can suffer the insidious damage that’s caused by exposure to sun… and pollution (of which constant Zooms are a crucial contributor).

The star ingredient, which runs throughout the line, is purslane – a herb with a catalogue of skin-rejuvenating properties, including a ‘telomerase activator’ (or ‘youth enzyme’) which works against natural cell death.

So what’s the routine? For everyone with breakouts, Sturm created a {Spot Treatment} that comes in eight different shades (as well as clear), which can be mixed-and-matched to cover as it treats. And as for the ritual, start with the pH-balanced {Darker Skin Tones Cleanser} that gently removes make up, dirt and impurities, then twice a week, follow with the brightening {Darker Skin Tones Enzyme Cleanser} which exfoliates away dead skin cells – mix the powder with water to create a frothy paste. 

Follow with the {Darker Skin Tones Hyaluronic Serum} and the {Darker Skin Tones Face Cream}. It’s super streamlined, but highly effective – the only things you could add are the {Toner}, the {Sun Drops} and the {Anti-Pollution Drops} during the day – depending on your life’s requirements.

The whole range is anti-inflammatory and, by default, anti-ageing – and the Sun Drops, unlike so many sunscreens which can leave a chalky cast don’t leave a trace when blended over your preceding skin care steps (meaning they’re ideal for deeper skin). 

With consistent use, you should rapidly notice a difference in skin’s uniformity – fewer brown patches, increased uniformity and less propensity to breakout.


Verity Douglas

Verity Douglas

Content Editor

Verity is our Content Editor and a Cult Beauty veteran. Currently on maternity leave, raising Cult Beauty’s honorary ‘word nerd’, Tabitha, she speaks fluent ‘beauty’ and loves nothing more than the marriage of language and lip balm (and cleanser and candles… ad infinitum). Nothing can stop her from quoting Nancy Mitford, treating herself to yet another Bella Freud candle for her desk or buying that pilgrim-esque collared or heavily fringed outfit she’s been eyeing. You can trust her to debunk widespread beauty myths and dispense invaluable advice with ease…