Myth or not: If you remove facial hair, it will come back twice-fold and tougher?
MYTH. This myth was dispelled about 90 years ago by scientists in 1928. We are born with a certain number of hair follicles on our body. We do not get more. Hair grows in a cycle and it may stop growing once its enters a resting phase but we cannot grow more than we have! What is likely occurring to give this impression is that new hairs growing in are fine and tapered (almost like peach fuzz). If these hairs are cut, then the fine tapered end is no longer there and it will appear coarser. Shaving hair is only removing the surface hair and not impacting the hair matrix where the hair develops under the surface. Often times waxing, plucking, and threading pull the hair out from underneath the surface. When this occurs the hair has to reenter the growth phase and may start off fine and tapered again. Ultimately as each hair grows longer the barrel of each hair gets wider and coarser (just like a blade of grass).
Does darker skin need special skincare products?
Those of us with darker skin often have different concerns when it comes to products. One of the most common concerns is discoloration on the skin. 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 very common 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 a 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.
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 your 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 azaleic acid as the active ingredient as it tends to treat acne and even out our skin tone.
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 is 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.
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 Caucasian skin, 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. We need to extend the same education of sun safe behaviors and the red flags when it comes to early skin cancer detection!