Melanin is a beautiful gift from God that gives people of color added protection from UV rays, skin cancer, and signs of aging. Not to mention, it also glistens in the sun with a magical glow. However, on the flip side, those with pigmented skin are prone to hyperpigmentation — a skin condition that causes dark marks and acne scars when excessive melanin is produced. It can be triggered by anything from a rash, scratch, pimple, or inflammation. To make matters worse, this unsightly ailment can take anywhere from three months to two years to get rid of.
African Americans are most susceptible to hyperpigmentation because their melanin-rich skin tends to be more reactive than other people of color. Fortunately, there’s a treatment that can reduce the appearance of dark spots called dermalinfusion. According to Cheryl M. Medina, a physician assistant specializing in aesthetics, this treatment works wonders for those with brown skin. The New York-born Filipina has been working in skin care and practicing dermatology for seven years at Skin Deep Clinics, where she specializes in treating darker skin tones with a focus on acne, acne scarring, hyperpigmentation, and anti-aging. She also serves a range of influencers and rising stars, like fashion designer LaQuan Smith and DJ Natasha Diggs, at the Queens-based clinic.
In an interview with BLACK ENTERPRISE, Medina breaks down a popular dermalinfusion treatment as well as common myths about skincare.
BE: How does the Dermalinfusion treatment work?
One of the most popular and effective dermalinfusion treatments is called “The Silk Peel.” It’s a wonderful treatment that gets great results in treating acne, dark spots, acne scarring, and anti-aging. Similar to a microdermabrasion treatment, it breaks down the top layer of dead skin revealing newer skin and encouraging new skin cells to the surface, which gives you a nice glow and even skin texture.
As it is abrading your top layer, it forms a hyperbaric chamber with the skin allowing it to suction whatever can be manipulated out of your pore. So all the bacteria that is trapped in your skin gets eliminated and collected in a collection jar. After the treatment, you get to see all the wonderful things that was pulled out of your face.
Not only does it exfoliate and cleanse the skin, it also nourishes the skin. It is a wet microdermabrasion meaning, it delivers a solution back into the skin through the pores whilst they are engaged. Depending on what your skin is presenting, we are able to deliver back into the dermis nourishment and treatment in the form of hyaluronic acid, vitamin C, a brightening solution, as well as salicylic acid that helps prevent acne.
Common Skincare Myths
BE: Can you debunk a few skincare myths that you’ve heard?
MYTH: Greasy foods make me break out.
FACT: Sebaceous glands produce sebum or oil to coat our skin for protection and pH optimization. Greasy foods do not trigger these glands to produce more oil. In fact, it is the behavior whilst eating greasy foods that can add oil to the skin. For example, touching your face with greasy hands after eating greasy foods adds oil to the face and can lead to a breakout by clogging your pores. Be mindful of touching your face whilst eating and of the grease dribble on your chin when you take a bite! Sugar actually does ignite those sebaceous glands to produce more oil. So, what you should be mindful of is your sugar intake.
MYTH: I can use my body soap to wash my face in the shower. It cleanses all the same.
FACT: Soaps that foam have a foaming agent called a detergent. That’s right. The same agent you use to wash your clothes with. Detergents are drying agents so using foamy soaps will dry out your skin! That’s why after you wash your face it feels tight and super dry or “clean.” In doing so, you have stripped what’s called the natural acid mantle barrier, a light layer of oil meant to keep your skin at its proper pH level in order for it to function optimally, and throughout the day, you will notice that your skin will produce a lot more oil. It does so in order to compensate for the loss of oil that you stripped away with the foamy wash. Milky cream wash or gel wash is best!
MYTH: Black don’t crack. I don’t need sunscreen!
FACT: Although it is true, darker skin tones do age better; it is due to the oil that we produce that keeps our skin moist and supple so that our skin does not degrade as quickly. But sunscreen is used primarily to avoid skin cancer as well as aging. Darker skin tones are not invincible to skin cancer. It is imperative that you protect your skin from the UVA and UVB rays especially these days with our ozone layer depleting.
As far as aging, darker skin tones are susceptible to hyperpigmentation, dark spots, or age spots. Using an SPF 30-55 daily will prevent these spots from appearing or getting darker. Also, try putting sunscreen on the back of your hands daily as well. Your hands show age quickly due to its overexposure to the UV light.
Treat Your Skin Right
BE: What should people of color do on a daily basis to maintain healthy, clear skin?
It is important to have a proper skincare regimen, starting with a milky or gel-non foaming facial cleanser. You should cleanse your face daily and add a light moisturizer with a broad spectrum (that protects against UVA and UVB rays) SPF between 30-55 that contain antioxidants to nourish the skin.
The most important part of a skincare routine is being a member of exfoliation nation! You must exfoliate regularly. I tell patients, in the beginning, to start natural with a simple sugar and honey scrub that they can make at home with 1/4 cup sugar + 1-2 tbspns of honey. Mix into a puddy and scrub your face for 60sec. Wash off and apply nourishment to this skin in the form of a moisturizer with antioxidants. This should be done at night, three times per week. Then later to challenge the skin, you can start using chemicals like glycolic acid or retinol to exfoliate the skin.
Exfoliating allows your pores to breath, encourages new skin growth, gives your skin a healthy glow, and also prevents bacteria or acne to grow. Diet also plays a major role in skin health! You should eat foods that are high in antioxidants like deep greens, acai berries, pomegranate, etc. However, the most important part of your diet is drinking tons of water. Water helps your skin and body rids itself of toxins! Three water bottles a day should be your daily goal at the very least.
BE: What type of products do you recommend for people who suffer from hyper-pigmentation?
When dealing with hyperpigmentation, the process is twofold:
First, you must work out the skin. Meaning, you have to exfoliate regularly. Dark spots are a form of scar tissue. You can lighten it by exfoliating the dead skin off and encouraging new skin to come to the surface. Remember after you exfoliate you must, must, must wear sunscreen to protect the new skin from the sun’s damage. Otherwise, the dark spot will only get darker!
The second part is actually treating the hyperpigmentation with a topical. Products that contain hydroquinone 4%, bearberry, licorice, citric acid and kojic acid help to brighten or lighten the skin. At Skin Deep Clinics, we offer Skin Tone Pads that contain kojic acid, bearberry and hydroquinone to brighten the skin. They are easy to use and breed wonderful, safe results.