Dr. Damilola Fajuyigbe is a Nigerian molecular biologist on L’Oréal’s Scientific and Medical Strategy team. Her mission is to keep educating Africans about possible skin and hair diseases and how to prevent them through www.africaderm.com/Educational
In this interview, she shares tips on how to achieve this.
Why can’t I get rid of dark spots?
Skin hyperpigmentation is caused by many factors such as excessive sun exposure, acne scars, injuries (e.g. insect bites, burns, and excessive itching), etc. How to resolve it depends on the depth of the dark spots and duration. For minor spots, you can use home products comprising of a good gentle cleanser and sunscreen. You can also use tinted sunscreen products to conceal it. For deeper spots, dermatologists can offer you stronger solutions such as peels, retinoid solutions, or laser treatments to reduce the melanin concentration and production.
I have textured skin. Help!
First, having some texture on your skin is completely normal, everyone does. Textured skin can consist of many components: dead skin, acne scars, enlarged pores, etc. People with genetic conditions like eczema are also easily prone to dry, rough skin, as do people residing in dry climates. A mistake that people often make is exfoliating with physical beads that are too aggressive for dark skin.
You will need products with gentle exfoliating acids like salicylic, lactic, and glycolic acid. A moisturizer with retinoid can help to nourish the skin and improve the texture of your skin by stimulating collagen which supports and firms the skin. Don’t forget to use sunscreen and antioxidants, to fight against environmental damage to the skin. For a faster breakthrough, dermatologists can help you with derma planning with superficial or medium peels, laser treatments, etc.
- Why do we need to wear sunscreen? A common skin condition caused by sun exposure is skin hyperpigmentation. This presents as hyperpigmented patches on the face and body at sites where the melanin production is relatively high. Research carried out by L’Oréal and other scientists have shown that people with dark skin are more susceptible to persistent hyperpigmentation induced by the sun. Daily use of a broad-spectrum sunscreen by people with dark skin has been shown to reduce the intensity of the dark spots, and give an even, radiant complexion. The use of sunscreens can delay skin aging and protect against skin cancer. It is rare but possible for black people to get skin cancer!).
Why won’t my hair grow long?
It may only seem that your hair is not growing because of its curly shrinking nature so check it in a lengthened, dry state to confirm. If you are experiencing hair loss, it could be caused by bad hair habits such as tight hairstyles, excessive chemical treatments, over-styling (including combing and heat styling), or bleaching. These practices can lead to hair thinning and hair breakage.
To help your hair grow, you need to address your scalp conditions because healthy scalp = healthy hair. Avoid product build-up and cleanse your scalp weekly to avoid an imbalance of the scalp microbiome. Be gentle when you comb your hair and avoid mechanical traumas. Beyond changing your hair routine, you should consider the impact of your diet and genetics. If all else fails, consult a dermatologist.
Why is my hair dry? What can I do to make it less dry?
Dryness is a big issue for Afro hair because the naturally produced scalp oil (sebum) does not slide down the hair shaft as it does with straight hair types. You need to consider routines, not only to add moisture but to lock in the moisture. First cleanse your hair with a sulfate-free, clarifying shampoo to remove product and dirt build-up (recommended every 7 days!), avoid harsh hair routines like excessive relaxer use or excessive heat straightening practices, always condition with products containing protein-based substance and moisture-infusing actives that moisture and strengthen the hair, and always seal all moisture into the hair with an oil or hair butter product.
Recommended products: Dark & Lovely Gro Strong Anti-Breakage, Dark & Lovely Gro Strong Hairfoods.
Why do people tend to prefer physical sunscreen over chemical sunscreens specifically for dark skin especially when it is so hard to find physical sunscreen that does not leave a white/grey cast on our skin?
The main difference between physical and chemical sunscreen is the mode of action: the former works by sitting on the skin to reflect sunlight and the latter absorbs sunlight to convert it to heat energy. The main reason some people prefer using chemical sunscreens is that, unlike physical sunscreens, they rarely leave a grey cast. Conversely, physical sunscreens may be more suitable for people with sensitive skin.
However, it is important to remember that many sunscreen products today contain both physical and chemical filters, in consequence (positively) decreasing the number of ingredients! The first and more important criterion when buying a sunscreen product is to ensure that it is broad-spectrum (covering at least UVA and UVB) and has an SPF 30 or higher. Your choice, whether physical or chemical, really depends on your preference alone.
Recommended product: La Roche-Posay Anthelios sunscreen range.
What are the benefits of consistent routine when it comes to face care?
Consistency is key! Your skin is a living organ so you must consistently take care of it. Everyone has different skin, different lifestyles and the best routine is the one adapted to You. Learn about your skin to decipher your skin needs then you can decide and be consistent with your best options. Wear Sunscreen every day! The key products to use if you want to slow down skin aging. Aging for dark or black skin is manifested as hyperpigmentation, sagging, perception of open enlarged pores, amongst many other signs.
Contrary to popular belief, sun exposure does contribute significantly to the aging of dark skin. To reduce the signs of aging, you can use a range of products or visit your dermatologist for personalized advice. You can use retinoid products to induce collagen and smooth the skin, sunscreens to prevent environment-induced skin damage, antioxidants to induce skin repair, and much more.
What are your thoughts on DIY products?
I am not a big fan of DIY products. I prefer scientifically-backed products with tested evidence, but I realize that these products are not always the most affordable. DIY may work for you, but when things go wrong, it’s a disaster with breakouts and pigmentation, and then you try to figure out what went wrong! Make sure you check the quality and safety of the ingredients that you use to make your formulas. If you’re a DIYer, do a patch test before applying the product all over your skin – that’s by testing the formulation on a small area of skin and waiting for 24 to 48hours to see if you have any reactions.
How do I unclog my pores?
Our pores can easily get clogged with products, dirt, dead skin cells, so they need daily care! Clean your face twice a day with lukewarm water and a gentle non-comedogenic (aka does not clog pore) cleanser, perhaps a cleanser containing salicylic acid or mild AHAs. You can also use a mask once a week to draw out the impurities. Finally, our dear old friend Retinol (only if you are not pregnant) can shrink those pores! As always, for a faster result, see your dermatologist for hydro facials and peels.
Recommended products: Garnier Even & Matte Range, Garnier Pure Active 3 In 1 Charcoal Mask