Fed up with her lifelong struggle with sensitive, breakout-prone skin, Texas-based pharmacist Deepika Vyas did what any enterprising woman might do: She started her own skincare line. What’s revolutionary about AVYA Skincare, which launched this year, is that it caters to one of the industry’s most overlooked markets: people with deep skin tones.

Melanin is the pigment that gives hair, skin and eyes their colour; more melanin equals darker skin. Melanin offers some natural perks, like abundant collagen and elastin, and a degree of photoprotection. This improves resistance to wrinkling, but it comes with greater susceptibility to discoloration and scarring.


AVYA Skincare Anti-Aging Power Serum ($213); Dr. Barbara Sturm Darker Skin Tones Enzyme Cleanser ($95) 

“The main concern people with deeper skin tones have is pigmentation changes,” says Dr. Renée A. Beach, a Toronto-based dermatologist and assistant professor at the University of Toronto’s faculty of medicine, who also sees increased sensitivity to certain skincare ingredients, like benzoyl peroxide, and devices, like lasers, in some patients with deeper skin tones.

To combat these concerns, AVYA products contain antioxidant-rich and anti-inflammatory ingredients, like turmeric, and mineral-based sunscreens, which are less likely to irritate than chemical filters. The Darker Skin Tones line from Dr. Barbara Sturm and actress Angela Bassett contains similarly calming ingredients, like magnolia-bark extract.

But do deeper skin tones need to use specially formulated products? A basic skincare routine that consists of cleansing, moisturizing and suncare protection is “perfectly adequate” for all skin tones, says Beach.

That may be so, but putting the focus on people with deeper complexions marks a necessary shift in the market—one that’s long overdue. 

This story originally appeared in the Winter 2018 issue of ELLE Canada.