As temperatures begin to rise and the sun stays around a little longer each day, one thing that comes to my mind is protecting my skin. I have taken a back seat to wearing makeup on a daily basis and, with the meteorologists warnings that summer 2018 will be a scorcher, I would rather find makeup-free alternatives for radiant skin. Now don’t get me wrong, I love a flawless beat but any beauty lover knows proper skincare is the ultimate foundation to a beautiful face.
Personally, like many women of color I know, one of my biggest skincare concerns is hyperpigmentation. Recently, I have been on a quest to find solutions to help me clear up the dark marks on my face and neck from acne scarring. With so many products on the market, it can be quite overwhelming to make a decision and buying multiple products to test can become costly.
In the land of Google, it is easy for us to try to find solutions on our own but a "perfect-timing" email afforded me an opportunity to meet with a professional to ask all of my skincare questions and others posed by my family, friends and our 21Ninety readers.
Dr. Rosemarie Ingleton is a Jamaican-born, star-approved dermatologist and the Medical Director of her private practice, Ingleton Dermatology. Dr. Ingleton has been featured on media outlets such as ABC, the Dr. Oz Show, Yahoo!, Essence and the list goes on and on. The NYC-based dermatologist’s client list ranges from everyday people to celebrities we all know and love. For more than 20 years, this industry leader has proven to be a go-to source for all things dermatology and beauty. In addition to being a spokeswoman for the Eucerin brand, she is also a new partner with Dove.
Thanks to the incredible people at Dove, I was able to stop by Dr. Ingleton’s Greenwich Village office for face-to-face meeting. Over the course of an hour, we talked about all things skincare and my mind was a sponge soaking up all the information she shared. I was also treated to a complimentary oxygen facial by her aesthetician, Victoria Russo. It was my first time receiving an oxygen facial and afterwards my face felt moisturized and supple. Plus the glow was immaculate! Russo used Dove’s Sensitive Skin Beauty Bar to cleanse my face and, to be honest, it was the first time I had ever used a Dove Beauty Bar on my face. After the cleansing, she followed up with the oxygen facial machine, which sprayed out a cool air that made my face feel a little damp but not uncomfortably so. While receiving the facial, I was extremely relaxed (to the point I almost took a nap) and was sad when it was over. To send me back off into reality, Russo set in the moisture from the oxygen with an SPF moisturizer and a vitamin C serum.
Not only did I leave Dr. Ingleton’s office with my face glowing but I also left with a wealth of information for myself and to share with all of you. Read on for our interview below.
21NINETY: Before we jump into all the beauty questions, let’s start off getting to know you. What led you to dermatology?
DR. INGLETON: When I started out in medical school, I had no clue I would end up where I am today. Right before graduating, I did an ambulatory rotation in dermatology and that introduced me to the field I now call my home. I have always been creative and I love helping others find solutions, and dermatology allows me to do both! I feel like an artist sometimes while diagnosing skin conditions and helping people achieve their best selves through my practice.
21N: Tell us more about your partnership with Dove.
DR. INGLETON: I’ve been working with the brand for a while now and Dove is a brand I have used and trusted for years. The Dove's Beauty Bar's selling feature is its 1/4 moisturizing cream. There’s no other product like that. Dermatologists all recommend Dove; We were trained on it and it’s what you bathe with. Cleansing your face with it is totally fine to do too.
21N: It’s so interesting you mentioned using the Dove Beauty Bar on your face because normally people just use it on their body. But that’s a great segway into a question one of our readers had: When your skin type on your body is different from your face, how do you decide what products to use for cleansing and moisturizing?
DR. INGLETON: So you would have to get different products, right? I’m a believer that products that are made for example to moisturize your body are formulated totally differently than the products made for your face, so you would definitely need two separate products for that. Those products made for your skin to make you look shiny may end up clogging your pores on your face and create acne. The Beauty Bar, however, is not made that way and I believe can be used for both without a worry. That one I don’t mind.
21N: Another reader question is do black people really have to wear sunscreen?
DR. INGLETON: They're not tired of asking that question! The focus is a little different when we advise for you to wear sunscreen when you have skin of color. We’re not so much focused on retarding skin cancer — you know black people do get cancer of the skin, it’s just that you know it’s a very small percentage. We’re really more concerned with uneven complexion; It makes you not evenly dark if you just go out there with nothing. You find over the years you’re getting darker here but here is light and you have like 14 colors going on and we find that when you wear sun protection you do get more evenly complected. You know lines, we don’t get them early but we will get them earlier than we should if we don’t take care of our skin. The sun, ultimately, it gets through those layers of melanin and it will damage your collagen and you will see some fine lines coming up way earlier than your mother did. Our parents didn’t live the life where they were necessarily laying in the sun — yeah, they were working, in the Caribbean people would get up and go to work and they wouldn’t wear sunscreen but they weren’t out there in it. You don’t see the damage early, it happens 20 years later. It’s a good habit to get into to make sure you look your best for the longest period of time. Go out and enjoy it but don’t let the sun have its way with your skin.
21N: And I know a lot of products, especially facial lotions, seem to have SPF already in them. Is that a good route to go?
DR. INGLETON: Oh yes! How brilliant is that? You can grab a product with SPF in it and not even have to think about it. And just think about it, with skin of color, if we have dark spots from whatever because our skin interprets everything as trauma: A pimple is a trauma, a scratch is trauma, a rash is trauma, so anything that traumatizes the skin heals dark and if you are not protecting that darkness with sun protection, it’s going to get darker.
21N: And speaking of that trauma and darkness, that was another question someone had for you and I have as well: How do you heal or cure these dark marks?
DR. INGLETON: The thing is, as I was saying before, our skin interprets a lot of things as trauma and the response that our skin has to trauma is to up the amount of melanin cells in that area. So all those inflammatory cells and pigment cells rush to the area so that area is going to be darker regardless of whether you pluck or squeeze it or not, it’s already inflamed so it will be dark. If you mess with it it will becomes darker, it’s that sensitive. So how do you get rid of it? First, if you can find the cause, that’s the best way to start. For example if you have dark marks on your neck from hairs you need to pluck, find a new method of hair removal. With laser hair removal, there is no trauma to the skin and the hair six to eight treatments afterwards, it’s gone; and you don't have to keep going back and pull, pull, pull. If you’re a picker, you know someone people get pimples and they pick and they dig and they think they can do what the doctor does or the aesthetician does and they’re really doing it, you’re just messing up your skin.
21N: I know sometimes people buy their own extraction tools to use at home.
DR.INGLETON: Oh yes, I’ve seen that. They come into the office with damage and say "I thought I was getting it out, I have the instruments," but some things you need perspective for. I think even as a dermatologist it would be hard for me to do my own extractions. You need to really be able to look directly on it and from the sides so I advise against trying to do those type of treatments on your own because you think you know what you’re doing but it’s so easy to make a mistake. Another thing a lot of my clients with cystic acne come to me for is cortisone shots. The quicker the bumps go down, the less likely you are to have a dark mark from it. Patients come in to me as soon as they can and I am able to zap it quickly, which helps it to flatten quicker and the mark isn’t as dark as it would’ve been if you squeeze it or let it alone to grow and fester.
21N: Aside from going to a dermatologist for a consultation, are there any market products that help with the darkness and helping to lighten it?
DR. INGLETON: I’m not huge on bleaching creams but they do have a place. You can spot treat dark marks with it but I’m not a big fan mostly because you end up getting a halo effect. Sometime you think you’re being very precise in how you’re applying it to a mark but it lightens up the edges sometime around the mark. I prefer if you have a big patch, say on your arm, you could apply it there but on dots, it’s a bit impossible to isolate.
21N: And what are the long term effects of bleaching creams in general?
DR. INGLETON: There was a lot of bad press out about bleaching cream in the last few years, especially Hydroquinone. It has been an ingredient that has been abused more so in Africa and outside of the U.S.. It’s the high percentages of Hydroquinone that are a problem. The over the counter stuff we get is like 2%, it’s not doing anything to anybody. The studies that they did had to deal with, I think they had mice drinking the stuff, but they gave them very high amounts and high concentrations. The mice had some very noticeable changes but that doesn’t seem to happen in humans; But some people do develop a condition called ochronosis which causes a rebound effect and the skin gets even darker from having used really strong bleaching creams. I’ve never seen a case in the U.S. but I know it occurs in Africa because they use the stronger stuff for longer. But people take one incident and share it to scare the masses and make it seem as though the drug is bad, but in small percentages I’ve never seen a problem arise. I still have my preferences but I still recommend it when it is a big enough area to apply it properly. I certainly don’t approve of it being used to change a person’s skin color.
21N: Another question was: What are the best products to use for Melasma?
DR. INGLETON: Melasma, first of all, is a condition where you get hyperpigmentation on your face and in some cultures they call it "the mask of pregnancy" because that’s when it tends to come out more. It’s usually across the middle part of the face, the forehead, above the lips and sometimes on the nose. It’s very sensitive to sunlight so those are the people who would need to be wearing a sun protector and reapply it throughout the day, and it needs to be a sun protector that the sun reflects off of instead of getting absorbed in. You want one with something like zinc or titanium, which is harder for darker (women) to find those products in formulation that doesn’t look gray on your skin, but they do exist! It’s culturally influenced as well, more middle-complected people like a typical Hispanic woman, not a darker Hispanic woman, gets it and it comes from the sun, genetics and it comes from hormones. If you're on birth control tablets or you're pregnant and your estrogen levels are way up, it comes out. It’s a chronic condition, it comes and it goes for years and years and years and sometime when you hit mid to late 50s it just disappears. But it’s a battle, and it’s a rough one. As far as treatments for it: Sun protection, like serious protection, stay under a hat and try not to go out in the middle of the day sun. Also, things that produce heat create a problem as well. There’s something that goes on with the skin when exposed to heat and sunlight that triggers this pigmentation. In addition to sunscreen, people may use bleaching creams because that works for them. There are laser procedures that can be used and a lot of chemical peels for Melasma. Microdermabrasion is touted as one of the ways to treat it but I don’t often use that method, although we do have that available here. I found that the results from the laser and the peels are better.
21N: Transitioning into beauty regimes, someone asked: How often should you change up your beauty routine?
DR. INGLETON: I think switching it with the seasons is a good rule of thumb, like twice a year would be good. In terms of some of the basic elements, you don’t have to change everything. When it’s warm, you want to have a certain ritual that you use and in the colder months you want a different one. Because the cleanser that you use in the summertime that may be more like a gel and foamy and makes you crisp, that’s not going to cut it in December because then your skin needs more moisture. I would change my cleanser with the seasons and the consistency of my sun protection moisturizer. In the summer you want something really really light like a gel, if you can find it, but in the winter you want like a cream, something lotiony which moisturizes and protects at the same time.
21N: In regards to moisturizers and oily skin, what are the best products to gravitate to?
DR. INGLETON: We can only hope that what people are putting on these labels are accurate but look for products that are oil-free and you want non-comedogenic, which means they don’t have any oils or stuff that will clog your pores. Also if they say they have oil-absorbers or oil control, that’s another good thing to look out for. And if you’re looking for a drugstore brand, try Neutrogena’s Hydroboost line.
21N: How about serums? Not just for oily skin but in general? Someone also asked does the color change in vitamin C serums mean it’s oxidized and it’s time for a new one?
DR. INGLETON: Serums are another get product to have in your collection, depending on what your needs are. In terms of the serum changing colors, it may mean it has lost a bit of its potency but nothing to be alarmed about. Naturally, over time, some products are not as potent as when you first purchase them but overall they normally still work.
21N: So with summer being here, one of our readers asked: How can you maintain a natural glow and what are some summertime skin care tips you have in general?
DR. INGLETON: This stuff right here (points at water bottle), this is a gateway to radiant skin but it is not the end-all be-all to clear skin. I think something else that helps upkeep healthy skin, all year round, are hair, skin and nail vitamins. Believe it or not, they work really well! Now, you may not need all three areas targeted so taking iron pills works as well. Doing at-home treatments at night such as masks can also be a great element to add to your routine, especially in the summer, just make sure you are getting a mask to match your needs. As I mentioned before, skincare should be curtailed to your personal needs and many times you may need a doctor’s assistance to figure out exactly what it is you need.
21N: Also in relation to summer care, someone asked: How can you protect freckles in the summertime?
DR. INGLETON: Protecting freckles has the same rules as we talked about before when it comes to sun protection and using sunscreens that include zinc and titanium. For freckled people and just people in general as we discussed, it is so important to protect you skin against the sun.
Special thanks to the Dove team for inviting 21Ninety to have this extremely informative face-to-face with Dr. Ingleton! Thank you Dr. Ingleton for helping us get right for the summer and thank you to Victoria Russo and Dove for the amazing oxygen facial. To learn more about Dr. Ingleton and her practice click here and to learn more about Dove’s products click here.
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