Free Essay

Skin Is Not Skin

In: Social Issues

Submitted By EGood
Words 829
Pages 4
Eboni Goodrich
Research Paper 1
Project 3; (400 hours)
February 17th, 2014
Tennessee Academy of Cosmetology

Michele Byers didn't have any skin problems. She just wanted to do something nice for herself as she approached her 50th birthday. Byers went to an at-home esthetician for microdermabrasion, a nonsurgical procedure that polishes away dead skin. After a session, bumps started to appear on Byers' face. Her cheeks were covered in indentations.
"It looked like a railroad track on my forehead and nose," says Byers of Castro Valley, Calif. "Here I was trying to do something nice for myself and I ended up looking worse than I ever had in my life."
Contrary to popular belief, darker skin is not tougher; in fact, while extra melanin does have its benefits - sun protection and slowed signs of aging - it makes the skin more sensitive and vulnerable to injury. The side effects are common for people with darker skin. Most skin care is only marketed to white people (lacking tone), not even Asians, Hispanics and darker-skinned Europeans. Education of the skin is geared to white skin, and it's still not considered to be a prestigious career here in the United States as with beauty advisers in Europe.
If the skin is darker it is prone to scarring and hyper-pigmentation, so we have to be more careful with skin of color. Latin, Asian, Indian, Mediterranean or African-American descents skin requires special skin care. Even acne or laser hair removal should be handled differently on dark skin. As cosmetic procedures and medispas grow in popularity, Terri Dunn, a Berkeley, Calif., dermatologist and other specialists advise their dark-skinned patients to proceed cautiously and realize their skin is at risk. Many common cosmetic procedures are geared toward lighter skin, and it's only recently, as the country's ethnic population has grown to 40%, that science is playing catch-up.
"In the past couple of years, devices, cosmetics and topical medications are being tested on people of different colors because we realize that the skin reacts differently," says Philadelphia dermatologist Susan Taylor, founder of New York's Skin of Color Center and author of "Brown Skin: Dr. Susan Taylor's Prescription for Flawless Skin, Hair and Nails" .
Even the FDA is requiring companies to make sure their clinical trials include individuals from different backgrounds. Among the most common side effects are hyper- or hypopigmentation, dark or light skin spots that result from any type of trauma, be it a cut, burn, acne or eczema. It's also a side effect of many cosmetic procedures. Bleaching creams and retinoids can be used to treat hyperpigmentation. To avoid it, specialists prime the skin and use a lower-strength solution when doing chemical peels on darker patients. They leave it on for a shorter time, Dunn explains, and recommend longer intervals for optimum results.
With microdermabrasion, they use linear strokes at a lower setting. There are lasers that transmit a long pulse and are better-suited for pigmented skin. Physicians should test spots to check for side effects over a period of 24 to 72 hours. Also, either the dermatologist should do the procedure or someone who is trained by him.
In dark skin, popular fillers such as Restylane and collagen and even piercings and tattoos can cause keloids, or raised scar tissue, that must be surgically removed and tend to grow back. Laser hair removal, another simple procedure, can burn, blister and scab the skin if the laser is too strong.
When researching dermatologists, ask if the physician has the FDA-approved lasers for ethnic skin, and what percentage of the clientele has dark skin. The best place to start is with recommendations from family and friends who've had good experiences.
That's how Byers found Dunn. But not before she went to another dermatologist, who put her on Accutane, misdiagnosing her damaged skin as severe acne. Next, she tried an Oakland medi-spa with ethnic-skinned estheticians who said they knew what they were doing. That didn't work either. "One thing I've learned is it's not about black people knowing black skin," Byers says. "You need someone who knows different types of skin and has the latest products and equipment." Two years after her initial ordeal, Byers is working toward the glow she always wanted, but not after diffusing another huge myth about her dark skin: the need for sunscreen. Dark-skinned people must wear it, Dunn says. "Skin cancer is rare, but it does happen."
As a future esthetician I plan to look at skin care circumstantially; it's the human body, the physiological makeup is the same, but different ethnic groups are susceptible to different things. For example if you're African-American you may be more prone to hyperpigmentation or if you are Anglo Saxon you may be prone to higher degrees of sun damage and skin cancer. I will explore the current condition of the client’s skin, and do my treatment and service based on that.

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