“Women of color need to wear sunblock everyday,” advises Dr. Downie. “It’s especially crucial for those with dark spots, because every time you go outside, those spots are only getting darker. Many women say they don’t wear it because it’s too greasy and it doesn’t rub in.” Downie recommends Neutrogena’s Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunblock SPF 55 to combat these common complaints.
Before you whip up a homemade mask in the kitchen, be certain that the ingredients you’re using are safe for the skin. “I had a client who used papaya in a mask and she ended up with chemical burns,” says Dr. Downie. Certain fruits are more acidic than others and could actually damage, rather than help, your skin. Downie recommends sticking to oatmeal, aloe and avocado if you want to make a mask at home.
For those with sensitive or acne-prone skin, it’s imperative to speak with your dermatologist before beginning a new skincare routine. “I recommend that people don’t use things without consulting your dermatologist,” says Dr. Downie. “They could be getting into much more than they bargained for.”
While it’s tempting to squeeze whiteheads and blackheads, you could end up with permanent scarring from doing so. “Stop picking at your skin,” advises Dr. Downie. “That’s one of the main causes of dark spots.”
The rule of thumb when it comes to your skin should always be to handle with care. Vigorous scrubbing can increase irritation and redness, particularly if you’re also using one of the popular skincare brushes. “I think people tend to overuse them,” says Dr. Downie about the brushes. Instead, she advises a gentle session no more than twice a week.
If you keep loofas, sponges, and body brushes in your shower, Dr. Downie says get rid of them, pronto. “Loofas trap bacteria and I would not recommend using them at all. They are a nightmare.”
The minute you notice an oncoming pimple, be proactive to reduce the chances of it turning into a full-blown blemish. “If you notice a small bump, you should spot treat with a cream containing benzoyl peroxide that same night,” advises Dr. Downie. “Put it on again in the morning, and within 24-hours you’ll see it’s down significantly.”
With dedication and patience you will see improved skin with over-the-counter masks, peels, and scrubs, but for prime results, a dermatologist’s office should be your first stop. “The products that you use at home are not as effective as the ones you’d get from your dermatologist,” says Dr. Downie. “The peels we use are a lot stronger and work a lot faster.”