Dermatologists Share How To Achieve Your Most Radiant Brown Girl Glow

Summer evokes fantasies of bright skies and sun-kissed skin. But with many cities still  adhering to shelter in place orders, things may look a bit different this year. That doesn’t mean you can’t still get your glow on. In fact, you may have noticed that spending more time indoors — and going makeup-free for cameraless video meetings — has been beneficial for your skin.

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“Giving the skin a break from makeup can be compared to the skin taking a deep breath of fresh air,” says Dr. Fran Cook-Bolden, board-certified NYC dermatologist and cosmetic surgeon. “With the normal hustle and bustle of life, many of us wouldn’t dare to go bare. This quarantine period provides the ideal time to begin a habit of tuning in to our skin.” 

Tuning into what our skin needs is especially important considering the stressful time we’re in. As Dr. Meena Singh — board-certified dermatologist and dermatologic surgeon — points out, although these stressors may not always be felt on an emotional level, they can certainly show up through changes of cortisol, leading to hormonally-induced acne or breakouts.

“Hormones increase oil secretion on the skin. P. acnes, the bacteria that can also contribute to acne, breaks down the oils into fatty acids, which leads to more inflammatory bumps on the skin,” says Singh. “Unfortunately, with brown skin, we are more likely to experience post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation or blemishes, which can last 4-6 months.”

Fret not. R29Unbothered chatted with four Brown girl dermatologists to help you continue to shine while you're inside or outside. Read on below.

Glow-Up Your Skincare Routine

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Busy schedules call for no-fuss routines, and while you may be used to a two-step cleansing and moisturizing regimen, save yourself some time, sis.

“Serums for hydration or those containing antioxidants are great additions that take very little time to use each day,” says Atlanta board-certified dermatologist Dr. Tiffany Clay. “Women are also getting more time to research and read about skincare and how to enhance their routines.”

Clay’s product recommendations include SkinMedica HA5 Rejuvenating Hydrator, a hyaluronic acid hydrating serum, and products from Neutrogena’s Hydroboost line. Both will give your skin the added TLC it needs without taking much time from your schedule.

“Beyond this, it is critical to add antioxidants to your routine such as Vitamin C which will both brighten and repair the skin,” says Caroline Robinson, MD, FAAD, board-certified dermatologist and founder of Tone Dermatology.  She recommends Revision Skincare C+ Correcting Complex 30, which contains Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate (THD) — a highly potent and stable form of ascorbic acid (Vitamin C), which is a ultraviolet-fighting powerhouse when coupled with SPF.

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Speaking Of SPF, Continue Wearing It! — Even Inside

Did you know the blue light that radiates from our digital devices is not just harmful to our eyes, but our skin as well? We didn’t either! But according to dermatologists, SPF is just as necessary inside as it is outdoors — especially if your home gets a lot of sun.

“It’s important to know that the main source of visible light is actually the sun; however, we do get exposure to visible light — which includes blue light — while indoors from computer screens and phone screens,” says Robinson. “Visible light has different effects on the skin than rays that are found primarily outside (UVA and UVB) and we have increasing evidence that exposure can cause persistent hyperpigmentation (excess pigment production), erythema (or redness), and trigger worsening of certain skin conditions like melanoma.”

The trick, she shares? Use SPFs that contain iron oxide, or try adding a high-iron oxide formula to your sunscreen. You can typically find iron oxides in small amounts in tinted sunscreen. Robinson says she’s a fan of combining mineral sunscreens with a drop of a high pigment iron-oxide containing formula like Dermablend Flawless Creator for added protection.

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“This product contains higher concentrations of iron oxides than are typically found in tinted sunscreens,” she explains. “The combination works nicely together to block UVA, UVB, and visible light.”

Flawless Creator is also non-comedogenic, meaning it won’t clog your pores. It’s also safe for acne-prone and other sensitive skin types. A win-win.

Exfoliate, Exfoliate, Exfoliate

Your skin can’t shine under its old layers, so if glowing is your goal, it’s important that exfoliation becomes your norm. Clay suggests alternating a gentle cleanser with an exfoliating cleanser to help remove dead, dry skin and encourage the skin to turnover new cells. 

“For individuals not prone to eczema or dermatitis, exfoliation is key to increasing brighter, glowing, more even toned skin,” adds Singh, who recommends washing with a glycolic acid wash followed by the application of a vitamin C serum.  “I usually add a drop of turmeric essential oil to the serum as my secret trick to decrease blemishes and acne, increase elasticity, brightness, and cell turnover.”

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Robinson also recommends Philosophy’s Microdelivery Dream Peel

“This is one of the safest and most effective at-home peels on the market with its blend of AHAs and BHAs,” she says. “It’s easy to use because you literally sleep in it. I have been recommending it a lot this quarantine.”

Calm It Down

This means soothing your skin and staying spiritually aligned.

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“I think this is an excellent time to focus on things that hydrate and calm your skin, especially since all of the stressors of the pandemic may be promoting the opposite response from our skin,” says Robinson. She suggests adding a hyaluronic acid serum, like PCA Skin’s Hyaluronic Acid Boosting Serum, to your routine as a quick and easy way to boost moisture. “This molecule can actually attract 1000 times its weight in water to the skin.”

Other ways to keep your skin cool, calm and collected are by using a well-formulated moisturizer with ingredients like glycerin and ceramides. A hydrating mask can also help ease inflamed or dry skin.

When all else fails, drink your water and mind your business. As Cook-Bolden advises, “Hydration, meditation, and affirmations are the most vital elements to employ during stressful times.”

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