Black History Month: Addressing Concerns Affecting People of Color

Tone Team

February 28, 2022

As a part of our Black History Month Chat series, we have discussed some of the most common concerns affecting people with darker skin tones. Read our summary of the Q&A discussions our very own Dr. Caroline Robinson hosted on Instagram Live.

1. Hyperpigmentation

Hyperpigmentation is one of the most common issues we see in our practice. It can occur for a number of reasons, including genetics, skin trauma, and inflammation, excessive melanin production, or skin aging. The treatment of hyperpigmentation largely depends on the type of hyperpigmentation that you have, the reason behind it, and how long it’s been there.

Do hormones cause hyperpigmentation?

While hormones do play a role in skin changes, there are additional factors that may cause hyperpigmentation, such as a compromised skin barrier, sun exposure, and genetics.

Do you use hydroquinone to treat hyperpigmentation?

At Tone, we occasionally use hydroquinone to treat hyperpigmentation pre and post-procedure however this varies by provider. We do recommend avoiding the use of hydroquinone for longer than 2-3 months at a time, as it can sometimes make hyperpigmentation worse.

Can you treat hyperpigmentation with microneedling?

Microneedling addresses a number of skin concerns and works great for post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, melasma, fine lines, pores, acne scars, and more. However, more stubborn types of hyperpigmentation may require additional treatments, such as chemical peels or lasers.

Does threading or waxing cause hyperpigmentation?

Yes, anything that can cause redness or irritation on the skin can lead to hyperpigmentation. We often recommend laser hair removal to address excessive hair as a first step to gaining control of pigment related to excess hair or hair removal.

What causes under-eye hyperpigmentation? Does PRP help with it?

Under-eye hyperpigmentation can be caused by excess pigment production, under-eye hollowness, visible blood vessels, and more. At Tone, we use Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) in our to address these changes, but it is not the primary treatment method. Sun protection and an eye cream specific to your under-eye changes are the core of your treatment for under-eye hyperpigmentation followed by procedures such as chemical peels, microneedling, under-eye filler, and more.

2. Sunscreen

Many people within the Black community mistakenly believe that they don’t need sunscreen. However, sunscreen is one of the most important steps in your skincare routine, as it protects your skin from harmful UV radiation and visible light that place all skin at risk of skin cancers, hyperpigmentation, and aging faster.

Do I need to wear sunscreen even if I have dark skin?

While people with darker do have more melanin in their skin, it does not provide sufficient protection from the sun. As such, you should still use sunscreen and avoid being outside during the peak sun hours.

What type of sunscreen should I use?

You should be using a broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 30. It is also a good idea to use a water-resistant product to make sure it stays on for longer periods of time when active.

Does sunscreen help prevent skin damage?

Absolutely. While UVB rays can place your skin at risk for sunburns, UVA rays can travel deeper into the skin, destroy collagen, and lead to free radicals. Protecting your skin from the sun can help to reduce the risk of skin cancer, protect against advanced aging, and prevent hyperpigmentation and rosacea flare-ups.

Should we wear sunscreen while staying indoors?

Yes, you should wear sunscreen every day, regardless of whether you stay at home or go outside. Growing evidence shows that indoor light (blue light and high energy visible light (HEV) light) can contribute to the worsening of hyperpigmentation in darker skin types.

What’s the difference between mineral and chemical sunscreen?

Mineral sunscreens contain zinc oxide or titanium dioxide and are ideal for sensitive skin types, acne-prone skin, or those with stubborn hyperpigmentation. On the other hand, chemical sunscreens are easier to apply without leaving a cast. Both are safe and great options.

3. Hair

At Tone Dermatology, we receive a large volume of questions related to hair and scalp care. Below are some of the most common ones.

Can you dye your hair while pregnant?

There is a very limited amount of data related to hair dyes in pregnancy. The amount of hair dye absorbed into the skin is likely not enough to be harmful, but we generally recommend staying on the safer side and avoiding hair dye during pregnancy.

Is it OK to wash your hair once a week?

The frequency of hair washes largely depends on your hair type and scalp sebum production. With curly hair, washing hair once a week typically works well. For finer or straighter hair, a wash daily to every other day can provide a good balance.

How to combat hair thinning in the context of PCOS?

If you are suffering from PCOS, it is important to see a number of specialists to get comprehensive treatment including gynecology, dermatology, and endocrinology. At Tone Dermatology, we offer a number of services to help treat acne and minimize the associated excess hair or hair loss that can accompany PCOS.

Do you offer PRP for hair loss?

We do offer PRP, or Platelet Rich Plasma, treatment for a number of hair loss conditions. Tone’s PRP services involve an innovative three-step medical treatment in which a person’s blood is drawn, processed, and then injected into the scalp. This “liquid gold,” as Dr. Robinson calls it, contains concentrated growth factors that support the hair. As part of a holistic & comprehensive hair loss plan, this therapy can be helpful in promoting healthier, thicker, and fuller hair.

Can you treat telogen effluvium?

When our body experiences extreme stress such as surgery, death of a loved one, childbirth, viral infection, or even as a result of the ongoing global pandemic itself, we can experience a large shift in our hair from the growing phase to the shedding phase months later. This is referred to as a condition called telogen effluvium. Typically, telogen effluvium is self-limited and resolves on its own. At Tone Dermatology, we offer treatments for the condition when if it becomes chronic.

How can I combat dandruff and dry scalp?

There are a number of over-the-counter and prescription ingredients that can be beneficial for flaky scalp­­– we can help you find just the right treatment for your condition! Whenever using anti-dandruff shampoo, don’t forget to use a rich conditioner, to counteract any possible hair dryness.

Can a loss of edges from traction alopecia be reversed?

Yes, traction alopecia is a reversible form of hair loss in its early stages but if hairstyles that may be causing excess tension are not minimized then traction alopecia can become irreversible. Early treatment can be helpful.

4. Skincare

Learning how to properly layer skincare products and understanding their components is incredibly important to achieving your skin goals.

What can I use to address hyperpigmentation?

Among other treatments, antioxidants like Vitamin C can help to even out the skin tone and improve the signs of sun damage. We offer a variety of antioxidant and pigment evening products at our clinic for any skin type.

How can I find the right cleanser and moisturizer?

If you have sensitive skin or eczema, it is crucial to find a gentle cleanser and moisturizer products. Even for oily skin, you should avoid harsh products that can make your skin feel tight.

Should you leave your skin damp when applying skincare products?

Leaving your skin damp while applying skincare products can help to add much-needed hydration to your skin. One exception is retinol products — make sure that your skin is completely dry to avoid irritation.

How often should I add steps to my skincare routine?

You don’t necessarily have to keep adding new products to your routine — it is important to get the basics right.

Do I need a serum in my daily routine?

Serum is a general term for a highly-concentrated skincare product. Instead of thinking about including serum in your daily routine, think about what you are trying to address and what ingredients will help you achieve this. Finding those ingredients and goals in a serum, moisturizer, or other product is then the next step.

How to use retinol/retinoids in my skincare routine?

Start out slow and stay patient — if you put in the time, you will be impressed with the results. To minimize irritation, make sure to apply retinoids to hydrated but not damp skin. It is also a good idea to use the Sandwich method: apply moisturizer, followed by the retinoid, followed by another layer of moisturizer. Retinoids should be used as part of your nighttime skincare routine and daily use of a sunscreen SPF 30 or higher is imperative the next day.

Do you have more questions related to skin or hair care? Contact Us, and we will find just the right treatment to address your concerns.