South Korea is known for skincare products and dermatology. But I am a black woman living in South Korea, and I thought my skincare needs could not be met. I am so glad I was wrong. There are many opportunities for sistas with dark or black skin to get laser and other dermatology treatments for hyperpigmentation, folliculitis, acne, and anti-aging.
A few years ago, I contracted measles from my youngest child. As a result, I developed dark patches and scars on my chin. I also suffer from a form of folliculitis.
Folliculitis is a common skin condition, especially as we age, in which hair follicles become inflamed. Small bumps form around the hair follicles, causing itching, discomfort, and pain. It became hard to ignore, so I would try to alleviate the irritation using tweezers to pull out the hair. This, unfortunately, led to scarring and hyperpigmentation and a great opportunity to pamper my skin.
I heard about BL from a friend and decided to go for a consultation. Thankfully, the clinic provides an English-speaking translator. Her name is Lee, and she is incredible. My doctor was able to communicate with me as well. I told him about my concerns. As a result, the dark patches made me self-conscious and were the only reason I wore makeup. He examined my skin and said he could lessen the scarring, possibly even alleviate them all together over time.
After the initial consultation, my doctor prescribed laser therapy as a two-fold treatment. First, we needed to make the ingrown hairs thinner to stop irritating my skin eventually. And second, we needed to attack the hyperpigmentation, thus brightening the dark scars.
I feel compelled to mention that I felt like my advice was honest. No one tried to sell me any procedure or product they felt wouldn’t be successful. Honestly, I was told that I was using better products at every stage.
I admit. I was confused about the terms brightening and lightening. Lightening reduces pigmentation, and brightness increases the radiance and glow of the skin. Lightening has to do with discoloration and even out skin tone. Brightening is more about restoring vibrancy to the skin. While I want to do both, I am more concerned with the latter. Brightening is not the same as whitening.
I paid for a package of 8 treatments for $900. It seemed pricey at first, but my doctor was confident the laser treatments would result in a brighter complexion. My skincare regimen called for laser treatments every three weeks. Each treatment begins with a multi-step facial that includes cleansing, a vitamin serum infuses treatment, numbing cream, an ice cooling treatment, clay mask, moisturizers, and sunscreen. The facial sells for approximately $60 alone, but it is included with every laser treatment.
Laser therapy has made significant advancements in treating dark skin even in the Asian beauty market, which is pretty homogenous. Outdated lasers did not differentiate between the melanin in the skin and hair, causing hyperpigmentation or even scarring. The wavelength of the laser at BL goes deep into the skin, so it effectively bypasses the pigmentation in the skin. This means the amount of melanin in your skin does not affect the effectiveness of the laser, making it a safe option for medium to dark skin tones.
Numbing gel is applied, while I relax for approximately 20 minutes to let it take effect. After which, I am then led into the treatment room, where my eyes are covered with a pair of goggles. The doctor does his best to let me know what he is doing. The laser doesn’t hurt, but the stinging or tiny pinpricks can be intense without numbing the skin. There is also a slight tinge of burning hair during the procedure. He usually makes two passes over my face, including the area under my eyes. He concludes the process with complimentary acne shots into any visible pimples. The shots don’t hurt either.
After the laser treatment, I return to the facial room for the cooling mask. This mask is probably my favorite treatment because, at this point, my face was on fire. The staff also applied sunscreen– something I never bothered with but now understand is a critical step in my skincare routine.
Before moving to South Korea, I was doing well if I washed my face before bed. Now I have a full-fledged skincare routine. And after only 4 (R Toning) laser treatments, I noticed a significant reduction in hyperpigmentation under my eyes, chin, and cheeks. As a result, my face is brighter and smoother too. I feel confident in going without makeup. There’s no need to continue covering the dark spots, and I no longer wear makeup. Now the only makeup I wear is my permanent eyebrow tattoos.
The treatments have gone so well, I don’t go every three weeks anymore, when I get an outbreak, need a little pampering, or want to catch up with Lee, who has become a friend then I go.
I never leave the house without sunblock, and I always apply vitamin C serum and moisturizer to my skin before bedtime. At 55, I feel and look younger than ever.
Don’t let anyone tell you that Korean dermatologists can’t treat black skin. Ultimately, you just need to find the right dermatologist for you. So if you have any questions about the procedure, cost, or aftercare, let me know in the comments below.