5 Latina Skin Myths… Busted!

Dr. Monika Kiripolsky treats some of Hollywood’s most gorgeous Latina celebrities at the Obagi Skin Institute in Beverly Hills, CA. So when we asked one of the stars’ favorite derms about the biggest Latina skin myths, we knew we’d hear back about all the issues that are important to you: hyperpigmentation, dark spots and acne scarring, just to name a few. What we didn’t know was how wrong  we've been when treating our skin. Check out the 5 Latina skin myths you need to know. 

1. Moisturizer

Myth #1: Moisturizers are an essential part of your daily skin care regimen.

Not necessarily! Putting on moisturizer actually weakens your skin – your body senses moisture on the skin’s surface and therefore stops producing moisture from within. In other words, any product that you apply to your face should have at least one active ingredient that serves a specific purpose, such as repairing sun damage, stimulating collagen growth, or repairing damaged DNA.

One example of an active ingredient with lots of strong research supporting its benefit is a retinol/retinoic acid; these are topically-applied vitamin A derivatives that have been proven to build collagen, even out skin color and texture, treat pre-skin cancers, shrink oil glands preventing acne, as well as several other benefits.

So, even though your skin may feel dry… step away from the moisturizer!

2. Dark Spots

Myth #2: In order to bleach dark spots on the face (including melasma), the higher the concentration of hydroquinone, the better.

No! Dermatologists have found relatively recently that prolonged use of skin lightening products containing hydroquinone will likely make your skin resistant to its effects. With higher concentrations of hydroquinone, there is more of a chance that this resistance will happen, as well as a condition called "ochronosis". Ochronosis is when your skin actually darkens (almost to a bluish-black color) after using products with hydroquinone for longer than 5 or 6 months. This doesn’t happen to everyone, but you don’t want to be one it does. I recommend my patients use a product with hydroquinone (i.e. ZO MEDICAL’s Melamin) at a concentration no higher than 4%, and treat them aggressively (twice daily) with this product for around 5 months. By then, the spots (from prior acne/inflammation and/or from melasma) are usually clear. If they are not, I switch the patient to a product containing non-hydroquinone ingredients such as skin lighteners (i.e. ZO MEDICAL Brightenex) for two or so months and then restart the hydroquinone – only if needed – after that two month "vacation" from using it. 

3. Sunblock

Myth #3: Because I have darker skin, I don’t need to wear sunblock.

Wrong! While you may not be as likely to experience a sunblock as someone with porcelain white skin, your skin is still accumulating damage over time from sun exposure. This ultimately leads to wrinkles, sunspots, worsening of melasma, and skin cancers. Darker skin has a type of melanin (the pigment that gives our skin its color) that can provide a "natural" SPF of around 2 to 4. Do you often see sunblocks at the grocery store with an SPF of 2? No(!), because they don’t provide enough protection from the harmful effects of the sun. Regardless of your skin type/color tone, everyone needs to wear sunblock on areas exposed to the sun every day. I recommend products with an SPF of at least 30.

4. Organic Products

Myth #4: Using organic products – including certain types of natural oils – can benefit my acne and/or uneven skin tone.

No! While there are some natural products that be used safely for skincare, the use of the word "organic" or "natural" does not automatically mean that the product is safe and will improve your skin. An oil is an oil, whether it is from an organic source or not. And as we all know, putting oil on your face can clog your pores and lead to acne and dark patches.

5. Keloid Scars

Myth #5: Once I get a keloid scar, there's not much I can do about it.

False! We have all kinds of treatments to lessen the appearance of scars (including flattening out keloids and making them more uniform in color compared to the surrounding skin). With early keloids, massaging the scar that is forming and applying a product containing silicone as an active ingredient is something that you can do at home every day. In a dermatologist's office, we can inject steroids (as well as a few other types of medications) directly into the scar to flatten it out. We also have lasers that can even out the color tone as well as those that can normalize the texture of the scar. The most important thing to remember is to seek treatment as early as possible. While prevention of keloid forming is most important (always tell your doctor/surgeon if you have had keloids in the past), the earlier you start treating a keloid, the better the ultimate result will be.

6. What else?

As dermatologists, we keep abreast of the latest research at all times and can guide you to choose the right products for your skin. Just because a product is expensive, smells nice, or feels good when you apply it to your skin, doesn't mean that it contains active ingredients that are actually doing something beneficial for your skin. Let your dermatologist keep up-to-date on the research and recommend which products will benefit you most.