I'm writing this impromptu blog post because I've discovered a major problem with skin care professionals when it comes to determining how to help someone with their skin issues. In one of my mastermind groups, a member posted a picture of the profile view of an African American man whom she met recently. They began talking about his skin and he expressed needing help with the discoloration on his cheeks due to shaving. The picture was very clear and distinctly showed the dark coloring on his cheeks. He said he also gets breakouts. Well I knew from the beginning, the thread of responses was going to be numerous but I was not prepared for the amount of inconsistent information being given to help this gentleman from all of the "experts" in the mastermind group. The member who posted is Caucasian and she was asking for suggestions and advice to give this man.
So here is what happened next: (Oh and this was yesterday)
As of the writing of this post, a total of 72 comments were entered as a response. The very first response was to say "this would probably fall more in to the medical realm" implying that he should see a doctor (perhaps a dermatologist) who could more appropriately diagnose his condition. Some other responses included: (brace yourselves)
- Do face masks with skin brightening ingredients
- A lactic acid chemical peel to fade the dark spots using a 30% solution to start off with and then working his way up to a 50% solution after 2 - 3 months (this person was questioned by another member about why she would choose lactic acid)
- Another member (not black) immediately diagnosed him (from the picture) as having Folliculitis saying it's a common occurrence and so are keloids (keep in mind, he does not have keloids, the picture did not show keloids and no one had mentioned keloids. She recommended an enzyme exfoliate stating black skin is more delicate and burns easily. Well, I happened to look at her Facebook profile to see what her credentials were. Her profile indicates she is "Full Spectrum Doula" (Doula's help families through their pregnancies, miscarriages, etc.), she's a health coach, studied "energy work", studied herbalism, studied skin care, and studied at the Interfaith Ministries.
- Another member (not black) expressed to be "very cautious dealing with black skin" because our skin is much more sensitive (this is NOT true and a poor generalization which is like saying all black people have afro hair). She went on to recommend a brand that contains salicylic acid and for him to use it every other day. She also recommended he use a facial glove, facial brush (brush his beard daily), use licorice root extract for brightening AND an enzyme twice a week. I WAS EXHAUSTED after reading her recommendation. I personally would not want to do all of that for my skin. FURTHERMORE...Salicylic Acid is an beta hydroxy acid used to treat acne, psoriasis, and calluses. This man did not have any of this on his face! Also Salicylic Acid is the common ingredient in aspirin. If he is allergic to aspirin the result could be a nightmare!
- Another member recommended he just stop shaving all together because shaving is considered to be exfoliating and it causes hyperpigmentation.
- Another member (black) recommended vitamin c. I checked out her profile. It was difficult to tell what her credentials were. She had pictures of beauty products but not sure how she was affiliated with them.
- Another member (black) suggested tyrosine inhibitors. Her profile says she a Hair Removal Specialist. She said, "I guess he is overweight." WHAT??? Where in the world did get that from. The picture is a profile image of his face. You can not tell his size from the picture. Well, she suggested a detox! (I'm really trying not to laugh). I did some research and tyrosine inhibitors is a pharmaceutical drug used in cancer treatments for lightening the skin. She went to say that this man's skin discoloration was from blood sugar/food related carbohydrates that "are not his friend."
- Another member (not black) recommended he use kefir on his face. I'm going to let you Google that one on your own.
- Another member (not black) announced that she was "getting ready" to launch her own skin care coaching business and she said, "it looks like he isn't shaving properly." I promise I'm not making this up.
- Another member (not black but married to a black man) finally asked the group, "Who in this group is a licensed esthetician or dermatologist?" It just so happens there are several in the group but none of them had left a comment. She went on to say that she was seeing some very bad advice being given.
- Another member (not black) diagnosed this man as having Acanthosis Nigricans which she says is commonly known in the African American community as "black cheek." She stated this condition is common in people with type 2 diabetes. Her profile says she owns a skin care and acne clinic in Killeen, TX. She said he should have his sugar levels checked and his discoloration could be the onset of insulin resistance. At the end of her reply she reminded the group that we are not doctors.
Should I keep going...
- Another member (black) replied by saying this man's condition is a "cross between a pre-diabetes indicator or a form of razor bumps." Her profile says she self-employed, that's it.
- Another member (black) who immediately identified herself as being a licensed esthetician recommended he be asked about his health condition because his type of pigmentation could be associated with diabetes and due to being overweight. Her profile says she's a REAL ESTATE AGENT! Now, she maybe just doing that on the side, who knows.
Out of all of the replies, two members offered to send him one of their products to try for free.
At the end of this thread I was literally shaking my head. It was comical in my opinion to see how some of the members of this group made obvious assumptions about this man's weight and health conditions. Not only were extreme assumptions made but diagnosis followed. I commented at the end of the thread that this is prime example of why people DO NOT know what to do with their skin because the so called experts are so inconsistent with the information they are providing.
So what does a consumer do?
- First, don't ask for help with these type of issues on social media. I know this man did not personally do this, but he allowed his picture to be taken by a member and she honestly attempted to get him the help he was seeking. A lesson learned. I have no idea what she's going to tell him to do.
MY RECOMMENDATION is this type of situation is for this gentleman to see a dermatologist who specializes in African American Male skin care. Male skin is thicker and should be treated accordingly. He will need a full assessment of his skin routine, current products he's using and even a health assessment to rule out the onset of any health issues that are showing up in his skin. His solution could very well be a simple one.