Care of African American Children in Transracial Adoptions: Winter Skincare

Long before I ever began blogging, I have wanted to talk about this subject. I remember the first time I noticed a white mother pushing a little black baby in a shopping cart, I wanted to run over to her and give her words of encouragement, and some hair care tips to boot. (Some of my fellow employees pointed and stared, and the baby’s hair was a mess). I am going to save those two subjects for later and start with something a bit closer to my heart… skincare.

Adoption blogger Ed Paul, tells me that skincare is an issue for his mixed race adopted kids. Here are my tips on skincare for African American children.

When caring for African American skin, (which also applies to other pigment-rich races) there are two basic seasons that you need to treat separately… Winter and summer. During fall and spring, you need to gradually change from one treatment to the other.

Let us start with winter. In the winter, dark skin needs moisture. While I am sure both Negroid and Caucasoid skin get dry in the winter, dark skin clearly shows the damage. Dark skin begins to develop white lines and elbows get rough and flaky. A white cast (otherwise known as ashy) is a tale tell sign that skin is thirsty for moisturizer. You need to feed it.

I remember being a child who had to go through the moisturizing ritual every morning. We had a big family sized bottle of Vaseline Intensive Care lotion (my memory tells me it must have been 64 ounce). My older brother used to smear it on my face, arms and legs every morning before I put on my Catholic School Uniform. My family made a valiant attempt. However, it was not enough. By high school, I had developed what the doctor called an allergy to cold weather. I would get bumps on the skin of my torso that resembled chicken pocks when the cold weather hit, especially on areas that had not been moisturized at all growing up. Sure, my face, arms and lower legs were not affected, but the rest of me was miserable and itchy.

To prevent such drastic skin dehydration in your African American children, you need to teach them the habit of moisturizing their entire bodies at an early age. Teach them that the optimum time to lotion their bodies is after bathing. This way the moisture from the bath will be sealed in and they will not forget the body parts that their clothing covers. The best moisturizers for dark skin are cocoa butter, Shea butter, (if you can get past the strong scents) and rich creams like Eucerin and Nivea.

While these will not prevent severe skin problems like eczema and psoriasis (which tend to be allergy related and need dermatological treatment), they will make the problems less severe.

Remember, water should also be consumed to guarantee healthy skin. Read this article on Fall Skin care by Aimee Amodio. I believe it also applies to winter care.