The Sun Challenge
For the most part, women of Latin descent — be they from South America, Cuba, or Spain — have pretty familiar skin woes that sound mighty familiar to all skin types: acne, wrinkles, pigmentation. Though Dr. Alicia Barba points out that, occasionally, as Latina women get older, they can be slightly more resistant to signs of aging, but this isn't always the case. Everyone (and she emphasizes this very carefully) needs to be rigorous about sun protection. "The steps you take when you are 20 will help you look like a great 40," Dr. Barba believes.
However one challenge, she says, that olive-skin tones (or Miami dwellers of any hue, for that matter) specifically must face is hyperpigmentation. If you haven't noticed, the sun plus the prevalence of olive-toned skin, makes Miami's set of skin challenges particularly unique. "We are bombarded by the sun year-long in a city with a huge Latin population, and we [Latinas] are more predisposed to it." She specifically warns about melasma — the most common form of hyperpigmentation. "For reasons we don't actually know yet," she says, "Latina skin has higher incidents of hyperpigmentation, like melasma or acne spots. We produce more melanin."
For Dr. Barba, the key to beautiful skin throughout your life isn't just about chemicals or serums, but lifestyle choices. For treating melasma and hyperpigmentation, she doesn't believe in one-stop cures like lasers. "We never have a break from the sun in Miami, so if you want to have good skin, you must think about how good you want to be about staying out of the sun." The best start, she says, is to begin with an antioxidant under sunscreen, and to combat already-there sun damage, choose a hydroquinone or non-hydroquinone-based treatment (more on that, later). Interestingly, she refuses to use the term "sunblock" because there is no true way to "block" out the rays. The best protection, she says, is a hat or staying in the shade.
Photo: Courtesy of The Royal Carron Company