“Asians, unlike Anglos, see the signs of ageing later in life, and fine lines and wrinkles are less likely to take form.”

Ethnicity, Genes and Ageing

While we know that biological, environmental and lifestyle factors affect the overall physical and mental processes of ageing, one other factor plays a vital role in the ageing process. This key factor is your ethnicity, also referred to as your “ethnic background.”

Posted: 28 December 12

In terms of skin, where ageing first shows up, ethnicity and skin is all about melanin, the chemical in your skin that determines how light or dark your complexion is.

The truth is, the more melanin you have in your skin, the better you will age. Melanin is what gives skin its colour. Therefore, people with darker skin tend to show signs of ageing much later in life than people with fairer complexions.

Ethnicity aside, however, we all share similarities when it comes to the ever-dreaded, physical signs of ageing:

  • Thinner hair follicles.
  • Slower hair growth.
  • Greying of hair.
  • Fine Lines and wrinkles.
  • Sagging or drooping skin.
  • Loss of skin elasticity (loss of firmness).
  • Reduction in collagen production.

In order to understand how you will age, let us take a more in-depth look at the differences in ethnicities as they age.

Below are some important characteristics about each ethnicity and recommendations for non-invasive cosmetic treatments.

White/Anglo Australian/Caucasian

Skin Characteristics

If you are Anglo Australian, your ancestors are from countries like Ireland, Russia, and Europe. You have a fair to medium complexion and a tendency to burn before you tan. When you do tan, most of the time you achieve a nice golden tan, but if you spend more than an hour in the sun without protection, you burn. You are more likely than other ethnicities to develop melanoma skin cancer.

You are the first of all ethnicities to show signs of premature ageing. You will first notice signs of ageing around your eyes. You are prone to developing sunspots and sun damage. Caucasians are also more likely to have grey hair earlier than most other ethnicities.

Possible non-invasive cosmetic treatments for you:

  • Anti-wrinkle injection treatments to correct crow’s feet and marionette lines.
  • Dermal fillers to add volume to the skin.
  • PRP treatments or Platelet Rich Plasma treatments to give the skin a more youthful appearance.
  • Fractional laser resurfacing to treat severely sun damaged skin and dark sunspots.
  • Microdermabrasion treatments to fade slight sun damage and light to medium sunspots.

Asian

If you are of Asian descent, your ancestors originated from places like China, Japan, and Korea. Did you know that Asians get the colour of their skin from the same substance that is responsible for the yellowish colour of various fruits and veggies? This substance, known as carotene, is what gives Asians, the yellowish undertone to their skin.

Asians, unlike Anglos, see the signs of ageing later in life, and fine lines and wrinkles are less likely to take form. One of the upsides of being Asian is that skin cancer is rare, and you are less likely to have early grey hair.

On the downside, Asian skin is prone to changes in pigmentation and pigmentation scarring. Asians are also more likely to developing hypertrophy scarring, unsightly scars and keloids. Asian eyelids are slightly different from most other ethnicities. As Asians age they sometimes have vision problems, because the skin above the eyelids tends to lose elasticity, causing it to sag.

Possible non-invasive cosmetic treatments for you:

  • Microdermabrasion treatments to fade slight pigmentation scarring and other types of scars.
  • Laser therapy to help fade keloid scars.

Hispanic or Latino

If you are of Hispanic or Latino heritage, your ancestors were from Mexico, South America, Puerto Rico or Cuba. Hispanic and Latino skin tones run the gamut from light to extremely dark and everything in between. What these skin tones have in common is that they all share some shade of brown.

Because the skin of most Hispanics and Latinos has a fair amount of melanin, they are not as vulnerable to the sun as, say, people of Anglo extraction. That doesn’t mean they’re free to go out in the sun without protection, but it does mean they are less likely than their Anglo counterparts to show signs of premature ageing.

On the other hand, having darker skin means they are prone to develop an uneven skin tone because of skin discoloration. They’re also more likely to develop dark spots and acne scars from acne breakouts. Latinos and Hispanics, like their Asian and African American counterparts, are more likely to develop keloids.

Possible non-invasive cosmetic treatments for you:

  • Microdermabrasion to get rid of less severe dark spots, acne scars, skin discoloration and hyperpigmentation.
  • Non-Ablative Fractional Resurfacing or NFR for sun damage and brown spots.
  • Laser Hair Removal to get rid of unwanted hair on the face and the body.
  • Laser therapy to help get rid of keloids.

Middle Eastern

If you are of Middle Eastern descent, your ancestors are from places like North Africa, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates among many others. Just like other dark-skinned ethnicities, Middle Eastern people tend to have more melanin in their skin, so they also have added protection from the sun. They should, however, still use sun protection.

People with a Middle Eastern heritage don’t have to worry so much about premature ageing. Not only does their skin have a lot of melanin, it also tends to be thicker than that of other ethnicities. What does this mean? It means they are less likely to develop premature fine lines and wrinkles.

However, Middle Eastern skin also has more concentrated hair follicles, meaning more hair growth, and also enlarged pores, which produce more oil and can lead to breakouts. Just like Latinos and African Americans, those of Middle Eastern descent have skin issues like melasma and hyperpigmentation.

Possible non-invasive cosmetic treatments for you:

  • Laser hair removal treatments to get rid of unwanted hair on the face and other areas of the body.
  • IPL or intense pulse light for dark circles underneath the eyes.
  • Microdermabrasion treatments to reduce the appearance of hyperpigmentation and help deep cleanse the pores to remove dull lifeless skin and excess oils.
  • Laser treatments to reduce the appearance of melasma.

Black or African American

If you are of black or African American descent, your ancestors are from Africa but they could also be from the Carribean Islands and some South American countries. Since you have the most melanin in your skin, it tends to be darker than most other ethnicities. People of African descent can have skin tones that vary from very dark ebony to a very light caramel.

Black or African American skin tends to be hypersensitive because of the extra melanin in the skin. As we discussed earlier, melanin is responsible for the colour of the skin, and more melanin means darker skin. Because of their disposition towards hypersensitivity, African Americans have to be extra careful of the skin products they use. Their sensitive skin may react negatively the ingredients in many products.

Just like other ethnicities with darker skin tones, African Americans are more prone to develop both temporary and permanent skin discoloration. They are also more likely to suffer from hyperpigmentation, keloids, melasma and ashy skin.

Possible non-invasive cosmetic treatments for you:

  • Microdermabrasion to treat ashy skin, hyperpigmentation and melasma. These treatments get rid of dead, lifeless skin, producing a more even complexion by giving the skin a radiant glow.
  • Non-ablative laser treatments to help fade the appearance of keloid scars.
  • Laser light treatments to make lighter skin caused by vitiligo darker so that it closely matches the person’s overall skin tone.

Regardless of your ethnicity, you’ll keep looking young longer if you take action as soon as you start to see visible signs of ageing. And you can use a variety of non-invasive cosmetic treatments to keep looking your best, no matter what your age.

Join the Conversation