Six things to know about our Asian skin

Since my last entry about Asian skin being less prone to getting sunburn, I’ve found more information about Asian skin type that might interest some of you. Keen to find out? Here goes:

1. Asian skin is more prone to sensitivity
Our skin is said to be prone to irritation as we have a thinner stratum corneum or the outermost layer of skin, compared to other ethnic groups. As a result, our skin becomes extremely sensitive to environmental factors and chemicals, which can disrupt the skin’s pH balance (source: Dr Anthony Rawlings).

This means: we need to be careful with what products and treatments we use on our skin as most of us may not react well to harsh treatments such as peelings or acidic chemical solutions.

2.  Asian skin scars more easily
Because of our thinner stratum corneum, it is also said that Asian skin are genetically predisposed to scar more easily than others. Hence, greater care must be given when one has acne breakout and when one is trying to heal from some skin scarring.

This means: do not go squeezing that pimple and poking at that acne. Use gentle products like emu oil or vitamin E to heal the scars.

3. Asian skin has more issues with hyperpigmentation
I read that all skin contains about the same number of melanocytes but the amount of melanin they produce varies. Melanin is a natural skin pigment that protects the skin from UV damage. Obviously, dark skinned people produce more melanin and light skin people produce less. While research have indicated that Asians have more photo-protective pigment melanin – Dr. Kwame Osei, who has studied genetics,  indicated that we have three layers of melanin – we actually have more issues with pigmentary disorders such as hyperpigmentation, melasma, freckles and lentigines, compared to other ethnic groups.  This is why you see lots of Asian cosmetics including skin lightening and brightening ingredients.  The problem I see with this is, because our skin is also sensitive, it means we have to be careful with what we use to correct some of these pigmentary disorders as well.

This means: use sunscreen religiously and use a product containing gentle skin brightening properties from your early twenties. Avoid hydroquinone!

4. Asian skin loses moisture more easily
Some studies have suggested that the Transepidermal Water Loss (TEWL) values were highest in Asians – Berardesca and Maibach (2002) found that Asian skin showed the highest levels of TEWL, as well as increased levels of permeability (source). TEWL is the amount of water vapor lost through the skin under non-sweating conditions.

This means: we need more skin hydration and it’ll be good to choose a moisturizer high in water-binding ingredients such as hyaluronic acid.

5. Asian skin gets oily more easily
It is often said that Asian skin has more sebaceous glands and is oilier than Caucasian skin type.  I guess this might have to do with the weather as well but it is generally true that most of us are constantly fighting to keep shine away from our skin. As a matter of fact, I have a greasy scalp because of very active sebaceous glands.

This means: our skin may get clogged easily and it’ll be good to exfoliate once or twice a week. In addition, do not use harsh products that will strip away our natural skin lipids and make the skin oilier.

6. Asian skin is more resistant to aging
While we have a thinner stratum corneum, we also have  a thicker dermis that contains greater collagen (source).

This means: our skin show fewer signs of pre-mature aging. YAY!

These information, while mostly based on research data, may not apply across the board to all Asians as it also depends on where we live. However, generally speaking, I think they make a lot of sense. What do you think?

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  1. says

    I agree with all of them. Especially the last one. Asians here look a lot younger compared to their Caucasian peers. I’m so glad we have a leg up there :)

    • sesame says

      I guess it’s also the size…Asians tend to be smaller and once you’re smaller, you tend to look younger too. :)

  2. says

    At least we have the benefit of not aging quickly. Otherwise, it feels like all problems are associated with Asian skin. Pigmentation problem must be due to the ever-changing weather. Even I do not look my age :)

    • sesame says

      Haha…it’s good not to look your age. But actually, it’s not that we have all the problems. We have more melanin and that’s something good too. Additionally, we actually have thicker skin cos our dermis layer is thicker. 😛

  3. Hanns says

    nice post! i definitely agree with most of them as i experience most from it.i’m now more aware of my skin.thanks for sharing :)

    • sesame says

      Yes, I do especially w.r.t. the melanin stated under no. 3 cos Dr. Kwame Osei mentioned Indians too. However, for the skin hyperpigmentation, I get the impression that the subjects used to conduct the studies were more of lighter skin color so it may not be representative across the various races in Asia.

  4. purrbliss says

    i agree with the scarring, losing moisture and oiliness! have been experiencing all of these since i was 12 :(

    • sesame says

      You got to take additional care then. The oiliness can be contributed by the lack of moisture too.

  5. says

    This is so true! I agree with all the points especially the hyperpigmentation. I’m suffering still from the acne “scarring!”

    • sesame says

      Got to use more skin brightening serum to help with the scarring. Something containing Vitamin C would be useful.

  6. Nadine says

    I agree with the general skin type for Asian skin. So with water moisture loss but oiliness condition, what are ways to combat these conditions? If I use an oil controlling product, does that do it or should I leave my face slightly damp before I apply my oil controlling product so that moisture is sealed in? Thanks

    • sesame says

      The oiliness may also be contributed by the lack of moisture. Generally, experts will suggest using water based moisturizer and not oil based for Asian skin type. However, I beg to differ cos I’ve had success using oil. But what I do is I use a hydrating toner. So you need to get a product that will supply some hydrating properties still. Or layer a water based moisturizer or serum over the oil.

      • says

        Even I think using oil is really beneficial for the skin. I use it as a moisturizer. Actually moisturizing in oil when you skin is damp from shower is a great way to lick the moisture in. I had read somewhere that within 3 minutes of shower, one should moisturize their body to prevent evaporation of water.

        • sesame says

          Yes, it’s true that it’s best to moisturize after a shower cos the pores are slightly more open, assuming one bathe in warm water.

  7. says

    Well that makes a lot of sense – I’ve had acne problems on and off all my life, as well as eczema, sort of the worst of both worlds! Does this mean I should be looking for Asian-made skincare?

  8. says

    Thank u for sharing this information on Asian Skin type. Now i can address to my skin woes – acne and scarring – better. and yes, i don’t look my age either. Cheers for that!

  9. Mary says

    well, I have learn lots of thing, i even never think about :)

    first of all I’m asian, but live in Europe. I want to know what kind of cream and facial cream i can use and how to care my face. (my face is darker than any part of my body, kin of strange )

    and suncream, There is lots of suncream with different brand, I want to know what kind of brand i can use such like “La Roche-Posay”, “Cliniderm” and “Vichi” brands.?

    • sesame says

      Try Marie Veronique Organics sunscreen – they are available at based in UK. This sunscreen is best used under an oil and Marie Veronique has some oil suitable for that.

      You might need to exfoliate your skin at least twice a week. The difference in tone is because of the exposure of UV rays and also, could be accumulation of dead skin cells.

  10. misabella says

    i love this post. so true because being asian, i also have these types of issues with my skin. after i shower my skin above my chest get red spots with tiny bumps but then they go away. which just means my skin is extra sensitive to warm/hot water. and my scars do appear pretty dark at first. of course over time they light(a long time)
    and i get combination skin as well, very dry in some areas, and oily on others.
    overall, asian skin is just so damn complicated. (or maybe jus my skin)
    and also another thing that contributes to asians looking younger than caucasians may be the fact that asians tend to stay away from the sun and it’s harmful uv rays that would age the skin, while caucasians tend to embrace the sun causing some pre-mature aging. in a nut shell, asians love to be white, thus avoiding the sun, and caucasians love to be tan, taking in all the sun they can. pretty ironic since it’s the caucasian look asians are going for while the actual caucasians want the opposite effect :)

      • Kristin says

        Yes, when I take the kids to the pool I am ALWAYS sitting in the shade while EVERYONE else is sitting in the sun! And the aging thing is awesome. I am 40 and am told I look like I’m 30!

        • Sesame says

          That’s awesome! Don’t we just love it when we’re told we look so much younger than our age? :)

  11. HuiXue says

    It’s ironic that we have more moisture losing skin as well as more oilier skin.

    I think the oily skin applies more depending on where they live. I find that environmental factors affect my, and my asian peers skin lots.

    • sesame says

      Definitely true! I would love if our weather is cooler. Sometimes, my face looks so oily by midday due to the oppressive heat.

  12. Katy says

    funny thing is im not asian but these all apply to me :3 i look younger than most my other friends as well…. i think a big key is healthy diet too! also heredity has a lot to do with it….. my mother is 60 years old but not one wrinkle on her face. she has always enforced good skin care and i am glad she did! i also had a very hard time finding good products because my skin is so so sensitive. but after switching over to mostly organic items my skin is doing better. even some natural things bother my skin though still!

    • Sesame says

      That’s great! I’m glad that your diet and what you use help you look younger. Who says organic is useless?

  13. says

    when I was left in a Da Nang hospital, my mother left without me and they won’t say anything but calling her a wanderer. I still don’t know if I am truly 100% Vietnamese or something else. I was 15 months old when she left me. I looked on the Internet and still can’t make that connection. One of my photos was me in an orphanage,but it seemed like I looked different. One kind man said that he was something else about him I saw your blog and I agree with what you had said about our skin. Thanks/good luck!
    Tran Minh Hoang last post is: Reviva Labs Collagen Regeneration Cream: a beauty boost

  14. says

    I believe that I have been getting tanner as I am working during CAA which is Camp All American. My arms have been getting darker than my other areas besides my clothes.
    Is there anything I can do besides working under the blazing sun all morning?

    I also am very sensitive to temperature changes.
    Tran Minh Hoang last post is: Reviva Labs Collagen Regeneration Cream: a beauty boost

    • Sesame Chew says

      That should be the fastest way to get tan but it’s gonna damage your skin in the long run.

  15. John Kim says

    Good post, Asian’s black hair is a good way for them to produce enough levels of melanin.
    Too much serotonin can also cause issues.


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