Darker skin tones have a unique set of needs that require specific expertise. Dermatologist Dr. Carlos Charles is an expert in the field and his practice Derma di Colore zones in on skin of color, treating and beautifying the skin of men and women in New York City. We spoke to him about the issues affect darker skin tones the most, which skin care products can help maintain dark skin’s healthy appearance, and what to avoid if you want to maintain a youthful complexion.
Why did you decide to specialize in skin that is of color?
Dr. Carlos Charles: For several reasons. First and foremost, I felt that there was a need. Patients with skin of color comprise a tremendously large percentage of the population, and they have many specific conditions that require focused expertise. I felt that opening a practice that pays particular attention to these conditions would be greatly beneficial. Also, I find personal fulfillment in treating these conditions and the skin of color patient population.
What skin issues affect women of specifically?
The most common issue revolve around various forms of skin darkening also known as hyperpigmentation. This can be in the form of blemishes secondary to acne, various rashes or trauma, or from other conditions such as melasma. Also, various forms of hair loss are commonly seen in women of color. We have several in-office procedural treatments as well as medical regimes to address these problems.
There seems to be a misconception that dark skin is less susceptible to skin cancer than fair skin. Is that true?
While women with darker skin are not at greater risk for developing skin cancer than the population at large, they certainly are not immune from its development. Both men and women with darker skin tones can develop sun-induced skin cancers such as basal and squamous cell carcinoma. Additionally, people with darker skin are at risk of developing the most deadly form of skin cancer called melanoma. In darker skin patients it will commonly occur on the palms, soles and nail beds. This is in contrast to lighter skin patients where melanoma is more likely to present on the body such as on the extremities or the back. For these reasons, responsible sun protection and regular visits to the dermatologist are important for people of all skin types.
What ingredients are particularly effective for skin of color?
The ingredient that I most commonly prescribe for my skin of color patients is tretinoin along with other forms of topical retinoids. I also combine topical retinoids with several strengths of glycolic acids in the form of chemical peels. This combination assists with the treatment of various forms of hyperpigmentation.
What’s the best way to maintain healthy and beautiful skin?
The keys to healthy skin are simple. It starts with the daily use of a broad-spectrum sunscreen. While this advice sounds basic, daily and cumulative sun exposure can lead to worsening hyperpigmentation and textural changes resulting in premature skin aging. The judicious use of topical retinoids as indicated by a dermatologist can also result in long-lasting healthy and youthful appearing skin.