From the Media Capital, to the Global Ethiopian Community
Saturday October 16th 2021

Skin Care Essentials 101

Putting the focus on skin care with the help of Board-Certified Dermatologist Dr. Dina Strachan.

We do all types of things to our skin, especially to our face.  We put harmful make-up on it, we wash it with soap, and during the wintry months we forget to pay special attention to it and in the summer time we don’t use any sunscreen.  We use different cosmetic products excessively and when they don’t work, we go out and buy some more.  We do this while forgetting to take basic care of one of our body’s most important organ.

Skin is the largest organ of the body and according to Dr. Dina Strachan it helps us maintain our temperature, provides a barrier to the outside world, and it is our first line of protection.  “Although people are more familiar with the cosmetic function of the skin, it does more than look pretty,” she says.

Dr. Strachan is a Board-Certified Dermatologist in private practice in New York City who specializes in Medical Dermatology.  She is also an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Dermatology at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.

A Dermatologist is one who diagnoses and treats skin diseases.  “A Dermatologist can also teach someone how to take care of their skin and prevent skin problems in the future,” says Dr. Strachan.  So if you have a condition of the skin, hair or nails, a Board-Certified Dermatologist is the most expert person who can help.

Having graduated from Harvard College and Yale Medical School and completing her residency at the University of California, San Francisco, Dr. Strachan’s first job was at a hospital that was “much less prestigious” than other places she had been.  “I’ve always been attracted to opportunities that I felt would give me great options and teach me something new and valuable,” she says.  While it was less esteemed, her first job gave her leadership experience.  “I had an opportunity there to be in charge of a residency program early in my career, and I had an opportunity to become an expert in ethnic skin,” she adds.  Dr. Strachan went on to become Director of Resident Education at King/Drew Medical Center in Los Angeles and join the faculty of UCLA.

As people of darker skin, we have specialized concerns that Dr. Strachan can address.  “Many patients with dark skin who have acne, for example, develop blemishes, or post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation,” says Dr. Strachan.  These blemishes frustrate us more than the acne and lasts for months.  “It is part of the condition acne in these patients.  It is important to address the blemishes when treating acne in people with dark skin or they will not feel satisfied with their care,” she adds.

Dermatology is a big growth area in terms of research and Dr. Strachan says it would be helpful to many of the patients she sees if Dermatologists can come up “with an effective treatment or cure for certain types of hair loss, such as follicular degeneration syndrome, which affects many black women.”

We asked Dr. Strachan some of your most daunting questions on skin care.  Her answers, tips and advice are all included in this guide:

Your Guide to Skin Care Essentials

Common Skin Care Mistakes

One of the most common skin care mistakes Dr. Strachan sees people make is using products and not being clear on what the active ingredients are.  People also don’t understand what the products are guaranteeing.  “Many people don’t understand the difference between medicine and a product that they put on their skin.”  Dr. Strachan says people may feel that a cleanser isn’t ‘working’ because acne is still there when all the cleanser is promising to do is keep the skin clean.  Using apricot scrubs is another mistake that Dr. Strachan says people make.  Apricot scrubs damages the skin.  “These ‘natural’ scrubs have jagged edges that cause micro tears in the skin which can, in fact, accelerate skin damage and aging.”

Taking Care of your Skin and Staying within Budget

By keeping it simple you can take care of your skin and stay within budget says Dr. Strachan.  “If you are looking for anti-aging or anti-acne ingredients, make sure that the ingredients are ones that work.”  Rather than wasting money on less expensive things that don’t work buy the product that costs more. “It may be less expensive in the long run if it works.”

Soap + Water = Dry Skin

You may not think about it but when you get up in the morning and use soap to wash your face, you may be doing more harm than good.  Dr. Strachan says soap for the skin is no longer recommended because it dries the skin.  She recommends gentle cleansers, moisturizes and sunscreen.  “I generally recommend moisturizer with sunscreen daily for the face, gentle cleansers, and body moisturizers for dry skin.”

Make-Up Uncovered

According to Dr. Strachan make-up should be non-comedogenic, for example it should not clog pores.  “I often recommend mineral make up to my patients.  As make-up can block sunlight.”

Before Applying Skin Whitening…

There are skin care products that come in small jars and promise to whiten the skin.  According to Dr. Strachan these products must be used with extra precaution.  “Hydroquinone is an effective bleaching agent but it must be handled with respect.  It should be used only for abnormal darkening of the skin not to permanently bleach the skin.  It should be used under a physician’s guidance.”

Fun in the Sun, Bad for Your Skin

If you plan on spending a lot of time in the sun, use a sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher with UVA protection.  “It should be applied 20 minutes before going outside and reapplied at least every 2 hours – more frequently after sweating or swimming.”

Dr. Strachan has been featured in various publications and on television stations.  She has been featured in ‘Forty Under 40’, ‘Harlem World’ and is included in the guide to ‘America’s Top Dermatologists’ published by the Consumers’ Research Council of America.

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