While Black History Month comes around every February, here at Dermstore, we believe in celebrating the contributions of Black beauty experts year-round. Read on to meet a few of the pros whose tips have shaped our beauty routines for the better.
Before launching his groundbreaking skin care line, BeautyStat Cosmetics, veteran cosmetic chemist Ron Robinson formulated products for industry heavy hitters including Clinique, L’Oréal and Avon.
His best advice to skin care shoppers? Prioritize hydration. Even though actives like retinol and vitamin C get all the buzz, don’t underestimate the power of simple moisturizing ingredients to transform your skin, Robinson says:
“Many consumers take for granted the importance of hydration, especially as it relates to rebuilding their moisture barrier. Ingredients like ceramides, hyaluronic acid and squalane should be staples in people’s regimens as these ingredients help them better retain moisture (by repairing the skin barrier), which is ultimately how we can maintain healthy skin.”
Licensed esthetician, makeup artist and educator Aliesh Pierce wrote the book on caring for skin of all ethnicities—literally. As the author of Treating Diverse Pigmentation, a textbook for estheticians, Pierce has established herself as a go-to expert on multi-ethnic approaches to skin care. And before dedicating her time to aesthetics, she was a makeup artist to figures like India.Arie, Ming Na Wen and the Obama family.
Her number one tip: Be gentle with melanin-rich skin, rather than fighting against pigmentation concerns with harsh treatments.
“[M]elanin is really our skin’s best friend. Its job is to protect the DNA inside the nucleus of the cell. […] I call skin of African descent ‘reactive’ skin. It’s reactive to injury and to UV radiation, and because of our geographical place of origin, it was created to be über-protective.
So, we want to be kind and gentle to our friend melanin. Rather than fighting unwanted pigmentation with lunchtime chemical peels and overuse of hydroquinone, approach it from a loving, nurturing point of view. It’s just trying to protect you, so it’s not like we have to zap it, burn it off or scrub it off. Instead, we can gently teach those cells, retrain those cells to respond differently. And if we understand that, we can consciously avoid causing an adverse reaction.”
In addition to practicing as a board-certified dermatologist in Texas, Dr. Adeline Kikam has built a thriving community on Instagram as @brownskinderm. There, she answers followers’ questions, dispels myths, reviews products and offers expert advice for those with skin of color, an underserved group in a country where only three percent of dermatologists are Black (despite accounting for 12.8 percent of the U.S. population).
One thing Dr. Kikam recommends to all her patients: Wear sunscreen every day—no exceptions. Need a good reason? Sunscreen prevents premature aging, as Dr. Kikam explains:
“UV radiation causes the premature breakdown of collagen and elastin in skin, resulting in fine lines and wrinkles. It also damages pigment-producing cells called melanocytes, resulting in the overproduction of melanin causing hyperpigmentation. The sun’s ultraviolet radiation is responsible for an estimated 90 percent of visible signs of aging. Regular use of sunscreen allows you to enjoy smooth, youthful-looking skin for years longer.”
An expert on green beauty and natural ingredients, Nancy Twine’s experience stretches back to her childhood, when she would help her grandmother whip up batches of her locally famous homemade hair care. Today, she’s the CEO and founder of Briogeo, the clean hair care brand made to nourish strands of all types and textures.
Twine swears by natural oils to remedy all sorts of hair and scalp concerns. One favorite? Coconut oil, which she says is best for overall scalp health and bringing damaged hair back to life:
“Coconut oil is one of those ingredients that can be used from head to toe. This powerhouse ingredient enhances the strength of hair and prevents hair from becoming dry and brittle. It’s comprised of antioxidants and nutrients like vitamin E, vitamin K and iron, which helps combat and eradicate dandruff. It also contains antifungal and antimicrobial properties that keep the scalp and hair clean and protected.”
Read more: 5 Best Natural Oils for Your Top Hair Needs