The 5 Biggest Myths About South Asian Skin Care

Female applying cream on her face to prevent skin from darkspots, under eye bags etc

The 5 Biggest Myths About South Asian Skin Care

By Ami Dalal, MS, PA-C at Schweiger Dermatology Group

As a South Asian working in the business of skin care, I know that many of my fellow South Asians have a hard time understanding how to care for their skin type. The first step is realizing there are a whole bunch of misnomers out there when it comes to South Asian Skin Care. I want to provide you with a little more insight for South Asian skin care, starting with the 5 biggest myths about South Asian Skin Care:

Myth 1: You Don’t Need Sunscreen

Since pigmented (melanin-rich) skin provides a bit of extra protection from the sun, many south Asians think they need not apply sunscreen.  This is, in fact, not true.  South Asians are spending more and more time doing activities which expose them to the sun (ie: skiing, swimming, beach vacations, sports).  Daily sunscreen use has also been documented to provide an increase in protection from fine lines and sun spots after using it for 4.5 years.  So, use a broad spectrum (UVA and UVB ray protection) 30 minutes before sun exposure and reapply every two hours to keep skin looking young and protect against skin cancer!

Myth 2: Darker Skin Cannot Get Dark Spots

South Asians have melanin-rich skin, which helps a bit to protect us from early signs of aging.  It does, however, predispose us to produce even more melanin with the slightest injury to our skin, including bug bites we scratch, acne scarring, and melasma.  A prescription cream with hydroquinone can help to reduce the production of new melanin and can help to fade these areas of hyperpigmentation. To prevent acne in the first place use a wash with salicylic acid in it.  For extreme hyperpigmentation and melasma, you may choose to seek laser treatments which have been shown to be quite effective.  The lasers used can include: Nd:Yag, RevLite laser, Infrared lights, LED lights.  Chemical peels can also help to aid treatment for scarring/dark spots.

Myth 3: You Have to Live With all That Excess Hair

South Asians also tend to have thicker skin (and no, I’m not talking about us being tough personality-wise!).  Our skin is actually physically thicker which can lead to an increase in the number of hair follicles.  This explains why many South Asians have to deal with excess hair in areas that hair is not wanted.  Waxing can lead to burns which may lead to the hyperpigmentation discussed earlier.  The safest methods for hair removal are threading and, for longer term, laser hair removal.  Many South Asians want to know what the best type of laser hair removal machine is for our skin type.  The Nd:Yag laser is best for melanin-rich skin and the number of sessions needed can be as many as 10-12.  It is helpful to have cooling along with the laser treatment.  Be sure to go to someone you trust when seeking out laser hair removal treatments/packages.

Myth 4: Under Eye Circles are Part of Your Charm

Many South Asians are unhappy with the area under their eyes.  This is generally the area that first shows signs of aging. The best way to prevent the look of aging under the eyes is to keep the area moisturized.  There are many creams for the  under eyes but most creams can not “cure” under eye circles.  Always use a cream with caffeine in it, as it helps to constrict blood vessels under the eyes.  (Try: L’Oreal Paris Revitalift Triple Power Eye Treatment; $25 at Ulta). Keeping the cream refrigerated can also help decrease puffiness in the mornings. In-office treatments that will improve your under eye circles are dermal fillers and the eMatrix laser treatment, a laser specifically designed to treat darker skin tones, which helps, safely, build collagen under the eyes and decrease the thinness of the skin under the eyes.

Myth 5: Lasers Are Unsafe for Darker Skin Types

There is a misconception that lasers can not be used on darker skin tones without causing scarring or hyperpigmentation in some areas.  This is not true as long as the proper laser is used.  For example, for resurfacing and acne scar treatments in patients with darker pigments there is a much safer laser called the eMatrix.  The eMatrix differs from other laser resurfacing devices by using bipolar radio frequency in order to penetrate through the skin.  It maximizes collagen production by sending an increased amount of energy beneath the surface of the skin while keeping the top layer of the skin intact.  This is what makes it safer in darker skin tones. Another example of a laser that is safe and quite often used in patients with darker skin tones is the ND:YAG laser for laser hair removal.  The combination of skin cooling, laser frequency and pulse durations allows for safe and effective treatment in all skin types.

Lasers safe for skin of color include: eMatrix (a type of fraxel), ND:YAG, Cooltouch (for acne), aclara (for acne), chemical peels depending on the type used, Eexcimer for vitiligo/psoriasis and many more.

Ami Dalal is a board-certified physician assistant at Schweiger Dermatology Group. Ami specializes in cosmetic dermatology treatments, including laser skin rejuvenation, Ultherapy, chemical peels, fillers and injectables.

Book a consultation with Ami to discuss your cosmetic goals and how best to achieve them. Ami will help you set your expectations and create an action plan using the advanced treatments and cutting edge procedures at Schweiger Dermatology Group. 

About Schweiger Dermatology Group

Schweiger Dermatology Group was founded to help make excellent dermatology care accessible throughout the Northeast. In 2010, Dr. Eric Schweiger started the practice with a single location in Midtown Manhattan. When he saw the need for high-quality dermatology care that did not require weeks or months of waiting to see a qualified provider, his vision of a multi-location practice was born.

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