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How does skin tone affect sensitive skin?

How does skin tone affect sensitive skin?

Skin is an important part of keeping us healthy. It helps manage body temperature, protects us from germs, and helps us understand the world around us through touch.

And there are lots of different kinds of skin with a whole range of skin tones and sensitivities. But skin tone isn’t just a matter of race – it can vary widely within people of the same race, ethnicity, and background.1

Let’s dive a little deeper into the science of skin tone, how it can affect sensitive skin, plus tips for caring for it. 

The science of skin tone

The color of skin is determined by many different factors, but the main influence is melanin.

Melanin is a substance that produces pigmentation. It’s what creates the color of your skin, eyes, and hair. It even exists in areas of your brain! The more melanin in your body, the darker your hair, eyes, and skin will look. Do you have a lot of freckles? Those are clusters of cells that produce melanin.

The amount of melanin depends on a number of things, including genetics and ancestry.2

Besides creating pigmentation, melanin also absorbs harmful UV rays, fights free radicals and has antioxidant properties.3

Skin tone and skin sensitivity

The levels of pigment in a person’s skin can have a major impact on how their skin reacts to sun damage, how it ages, as well as what sensitivities different skin tones may experience.

Usually, people with lighter skin sunburn more easily and are more susceptible to sunspots, wrinkles, and even skin cancers.1  

Plus, skin tone can affect conditions like atopic dermatitis, a common condition that causes itchy, dry, and inflamed skin.4 A study found that Black children are 1.7 times more likely to develop atopic dermatitis compared to white children.5

A number of factors contribute to this, including genetics. Genetics affect the way our skin cells are passes to the next generation, which explains why some groups experience different frequency and severity of eczema.6

Eczema can appear differently on different kinds of skin. On lighter skin tones it can show up as a dry, red, itchy rash. Black people may experience small bumps called papular eczema. Their flare ups tend to be brown, purple, or gray in color, and they may also experience more severe itching.5

Skin tone and skin sensitivity

Tips for addressing sensitive skin

Wear sunscreen – No matter your skin tone, it’s smart to wear sunscreen every day – SPF 30 or higher. Even if you claim to “never get a sunburn,” the UV rays from the sun can still damage your skin, contributing to skin conditions like wrinkles, aging, and even skin cancer.

Use a thick moisturizer – Not only does it keep skin hydrated and protect skin’s moisture barrier, it also makes dry skin less noticeable. Dry skin (sometimes called “ashy skin” for skin of color) appears lighter in color and can be more visible against darker skin tones. Look for moisturizers with cermaides, petrolatum, and other gentle, moisturizing skincare ingredients.1

Stick with gentle, fragrance-free products – if you have dry or sensitive skin, use products that are made to be gentle on skin. Avoid products that contain ingredients like alcohol and fragrance since these can be drying and irritating to sensitive skin.7 That includes soaps and shampoos.


Don’t forget to choose a sensitive-skin laundry detergent – Laundry touches your skin all day, so choose one that’s made for sensitive skin. Look for one that’s fragrance-free, hypoallergenic, and recommended by dermatologists and allergists.


all® free clear laundry detergent is hypoallergenic and 100% free of dyes and perfumes. It’s the #1 recommended detergent brand by dermatologists, allergists, and pediatricians for sensitive skin. Plus, it was the first detergent to receive the National Eczema Association (NEA) Seal of Acceptance.

Want to learn more about how to manage eczema and sensitive skin conditions? Check out the article Sensitive Skin Spotlight: Managing Eczema where dermatologist and all® free clear partner Dr. Lindsey Zubritsky gives you helpful tips for minimizing flare ups.


Relevant Products in this Article

  • all® free clear liquid laundry detergent, THE ORIGINAL

  • all® free clear MIGHTY PACS® laundry detergent, THE ORIGINAL

  • all® free clear dryer sheets