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Common Skin Questions...

Updated: Aug 29, 2022

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Let’s tackle some common things we hear and see if they are myths or not…

Photo: Wix

Does darker skin need special skincare products?

Those of us with skin of color may have different skin concerns or simply rank our concerns in a different order. One of the most common challenges is skin discoloration, resulting in an uneven complexion. Many acne and antiaging products can work by exfoliating or causing excess dryness. These need to be used the right way or understood better as it is prevalent for people to find that the dry patches they experience very quickly turn into discoloration.

I remind my patients of two big things they don’t always think about

  1. Wear opaque sunscreen even if you do not really ever get a sunburn. Why? Because UV light not only causes skin cancer, it also causes discoloration in the skin. Daily sunblock use can give us a more even skin tone. Why opaque? Because blue light has been linked to discoloration of the skin and is best blocked by opaque products.

  2. If your skin tends to be on the oily or more acne-prone side and you need to use products that contain benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, scrubs, or retinols, as much as you may not like the idea of using a moisturizer out of fear of clogging your pores- you really need to! If you dry your skin too much and develop inflamed or cracked areas on the skin they will heal with discoloration. The only way to prevent this is by remembering to use a non-comedogenic moisturizer. For acne-prone or oily skin, I recommend products that contain azelaic acid as the active ingredient as it tends to treat acne and even out our skin tone.

Does skin of color get skin cancer?

The most important myth to debunk when it comes to skin of color is the myth that we do not get skin cancer. This is simply not true and is very concerning to me as a Dermatologist. The reality is that although it is true that the incidence may not be as high as amongst lighter skin types, skin cancer still does occur and is on the rise. The most concerning aspect of this myth is that it is also true that people of color are often diagnosed later with a poorer prognosis because either the patient or their doctor is simply not thinking about skin cancer. I also suspect that based on the lack of skin cancer registries worldwide we do not have a full picture of the extent of skin cancer in different populations. We need to extend the same education on sun-safe behaviors and the red flags when it comes to early skin cancer detection!

Does splashing your face with cold water close your pores?

Technically no. Our pore size is genetically determined. They can enlarge if filled with extra oil or sebum. They can appear smaller if the excess sebum and oil are removed. That being said, when we flush because of heat our pores seem enlarged because they are somewhat stretched open from extra edema or fluid in our facial skin. This can give our pores a stretched-out appearance similar to the skin of an orange. Cold water can bring down the swelling in our skin and make our pores appear smaller again.


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