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Everything You Need To Know About Achieving Flawless Skin, As Advised By Charlamagne's Dermatologist

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Summer is in full swing which means those winter months spent getting your body right and tight are hopefully paying off. But is your skin up to that level of "on pointness" as everything else?

If you have been following The Breakfast Club over the years then by now, you're familiar with the drastic, 180-degree change to Charlamagne Tha God's appearance. The radio jock once had a face marked with severe dark spots and hyperpigmentation, however his skin is now clear and even toned, thanks to dermatologist Dr. Natasha Sandy.

The miracle worker shared some tips on how to make sure your skin is summertime fine year-round on The Breakfast Club!

Despite the misconception that people of color don't need sunscreen because of our melanin, Dr. Sandy stresses that we still have to protect ourselves. She explains that the sun's harmful UVA/UVB rays still makes us susceptible to skin cancer. And that awful hyperpigmentation (darkening of the pigment)? The Maryland-based dermatologist says that can be caused from not applying sunscreen, too! However, she notes that the skin condition can also be triggered by other factors ranging from topical products, bad diet/lifestyle or even a pre-existing skin disease.

Now if you've already reached that bridge and need help crossing, Dr. Sandy recommends getting down to the root of the problem as it may not be something simple. You also don't have to decide whether to pay your rent or get your face cleared up because Dr. Sandy says great skin can still be achieved with a modest budget. Hallelujah!

Got questions about how to get rid of dark spots, chemical peels, semen facials, and those annoying period pimples? Dr. Sandy has answers.

xoNecole: What sunscreens and SPF (Sun Protection Factor) should you be using?

Dr. Sandy: The key thing is to get an SPF of at least 30. Anything above that, it doesn't make that much difference. The significant thing however, is the ingredients in it. So you want to have something that has Zinc Oxide in it, or Titanium. And the reason being is because you've got UVB Rays, which causes burning, and UVA Rays which causes aging, which you're exposed to on cloudy days. But Zinc and Titanium absorb all the wave of things. They absorb UVA and B. And that's the significant thing- You want protection from both rays. So you want Zinc and Titanium, and an SPF of at least 30.

Is tanning oil useful in sunscreen?

No. Because do you want to cook? It's like making yourself chicken or turkey. You put an oil on yourself and then you're sitting out on the fire.

When should you wear sunscreen?

Most people think about the UVB rays because they think about the burning and rays hitting them, but you need to do it all year around. Because like I said, the UVA rays you're exposed to even on cloudy days. So that's why in England, there's significant skin cancer. England is known for being cloudy.

Do certain products cause hyperpigmentation?

Most people try to associate when they have hyperpigmentation, as a triggering event that may have caused it. A lot of people think it may have been something that they put on their face, which it could've been. But really, why a product could cause that is basically, if you have anything that could cause hyperpigmentation, which is darkening of the pigment, that can leave you with dark marks.

What exactly causes hyperpigmentation?

The melanocytes, which are the cells that have melanin in the skin, inflammatory cells. So if you have anything that can cause inflammation on the skin, even the sun hitting it can make you have dark marks. And if you continually expose yourself to that thing, you never wear sunscreen, you're always in the sun, you don't protect yourself, then you're going to get hyperpigmentation.

You have the obvious topical things, external factor. So for example sun, products that you're using, maybe true specific skin diseases like acne, dandruff which you can actually get in your face. Even things like psoriasis, things like that. But also remember, we are a total being and the skin really manifests what's happening inside. So anything you're taking internally that's causes inflammation in the body, or even your lifestyle, can impact that.

“I had to change my lifestyle, too. I was 202 pounds, so I had to lose 30 pounds. And then when they say, 'drink in moderation', really drink in moderation. I would notice when I would drink, the marks on my face would be darker." - Charlamagne

If there are problem areas, how does a dermatologist care for the skin?

First, you have to treat whatever the source of the skin discoloration is, right? So if you've got acne, you need to treat the acne. So whatever the cause of the skin discoloration is, you want to treat that first. With Charlamagne, we treated some of the acne that he had, but he also had dandruff, seborrheic dermatitis, as well. And that made a big difference. I've used chemical peels on him as well.

What are chemical peels and how do they work?

All chemical peels are not created equal. That's the first thing. So there's Medical Grade, and there is what you can get esthetician-wise. With chemical peels, you're putting a chemical, typically an acid and there's a lot of different types, on the skin so you can achieve a number of different goals. It changes the pH of the skin, and it makes the skin more acidic. Why does that matter? Well, the skin likes a more acidic environment. For example, we've all heard of Queen of Sheba soaking in milk. Milk has lactic acid in it, and that's why her skin was that great.

The other thing that it can do if you have uneven skin, depending on the depth of the peel, if it's more superficial it'll take off the top layer of skin for the uneven pigment. If it's deeper and you have fine wrinkles, you've got scars, you can use it for that as well.

Is Charlamagne bleaching?

No [he's not bleaching]. So here's the distinction, I think people are looking for the question of, like—because, in the culture, there's a lot of that. The bleaching, the cake soap, people just having that gray appearance.

How can you take care of your skin on a modest budget?

Cetaphil

Witch Hazel

Dr. Natasha Sandy acne pads

Cerave moisturizer

Elta MD

… And exfoliate!

What about pimples?

It's definitely hormonal. Usually around that time, people feel like eating lots of sugar. So what you want to do is not do those sugars, or pick a good sugar. So you want to do more fruits and vegetables. More fruits, sweet fruits. If you want to, make smoothies.

There's some prescription supplements (anti-inflammatory) that have things like turmeric, folic acids. I take that, and around my period I rarely get the dark marks.

Do semen facials really work?

Anecdotally, people have found that when they put certain fluids on their bodies, either internally or externally, they feel that their skin is better. However, there has not been any studies to support that. I'm a physician so I have to go with the evidence, so once there's a study that's put together with thousands of people, then I can provide evidence to support that.

________________________________________

Are any of her tips you swear by? How do you currently care for your skin?

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

Featured image by Shutterstock

Every day, Black women elevate the world. We are trendsetters and visionaries; the shapeshifters that lead by virtue of presence alone. In a world that sells our identities for consumption, we remind everyone that joy is our birthright and the grace we carry will always be authentic. Our existence is not a social experiment but a crafted emblem of perfection. And for that, we deserve everything good this world has to offer.

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Sometimes, when things are a little "off" when it comes to our health, there are simple steps that we can take to get ourselves back on track. For instance, did you know that around 92 percent of Americans are considered to be vitamin or mineral deficient in some way? And since there are core nutrients that all of us need in order to function properly, it's important that we're aware of what certain deficiencies are directly linked to.

Today, that is the focus. Here are eight health-related issues that, oftentimes, if we'd just add more of a vitamin or mineral into our system, we will start to feel better in no time (technically a couple of weeks but you get my drift).

1. Muscle Cramping

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Something that happens randomly to me sometimes is I'll have a muscle that cramps up, seemingly out of nowhere. Then I'll snack on a banana and start to feel better. You know why? It's because bananas are high in potassium and potassium is a nutrient that our system needs in order for our muscles to easily contract. If you sweat a lot or don't have enough fluids in your system, you can become a high candidate for being potassium deficient. As far as how much your body requires on a daily basis, it's somewhere between 3,000-4,000 mg a day. Foods that are a good source of this mineral (that is also an electrolyte) include mushrooms, zucchini, cucumbers, sweet potatoes and lentils.

2. Lip Cracking

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If your PMS is off the chain or you've been catching a lot of colds lately, it could be because you need some more Vitamin B6 in your life. However, a telling sign that this is almost definitely the case is if the corners of your lips are cracking or even if your tongue feels a bit swollen.

The main thing to keep in mind with this point is if you're noticing indications that you could stand to have more Vitamin B6, there's a pretty good chance that your system has gotten close to totally running out. And just how much does your body need of this vitamin on the daily? About 1.3 mg. Up it up to 1.5 mg if you're over the age of 50.

Foods that are loaded with Vitamin B6 are peanuts, poultry, oats, avocados and pistachios.

3. Brittle Nails

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If it seems like no matter how much pampering you do to your nails, they are brittle and breaking, that could be an indication that you are low in iron and/or Vitamin C. The reality is that just our periods alone can make us vulnerable to having lower iron levels. And just how much should you be getting into your system? A lot of healthcare professionals recommend somewhere around 14.8 mg each day. As far as the Vitamin C goes, not only can you have brittle nails when you're not getting enough of it, this is a nutrient that makes it easier for your body to absorb iron too. 75 mg per day of it is recommended (120 mg each day if you're pregnant or are breastfeeding). Foods that are high in iron include beef, dark leafy greens, quinoa, pumpkin seeds and broccoli. Foods that are a good source of Vitamin C include citrus fruits, peppers, potatoes, berries and Brussel sprouts.

4. Allergy Symptoms

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If you've got allergy symptoms that are driving you totally up the wall or you're someone who deals with asthma or eczema, these things can be so much worse for you if you are low in omega-3. Long story short, they're fatty acids that pretty much every part of our body needs from our skin and hair to our reproductive system and our heart. Matter of fact, I actually read once that if you tend to have an excessive amount of earwax, that can also be a heads up that omega-3 is lacking. As far as how much is good for you, 1.1 grams daily is enough. And as far as foods that have omega-3 in them, those would be walnuts, spinach, salmon, chia seeds and eggs.

5. Weakness

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Magnesium is both a mineral as well as an electrolyte that helps to regulate muscle and nerve functions and keep your blood sugar in balance. Well, when you don't have enough magnesium in you, it can cause you to experience extreme amounts of fatigue and weakness. A part of the reason why is because magnesium is what helps to keep your potassium levels where they should be. So, when your potassium levels are low, your muscles will not perform with as much strength as they should. Somewhere around 315 mg each day is what your system requires. Foods that are loaded with magnesium include whole grains, pumpkin seeds, halibut, bananas and dark chocolate.

6. Hair Loss

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One of the main things that all of us need in order for our hair to flourish is zinc. It's a mineral that assists with hair tissue growth and repair, fights dandruff and, it also helps your scalp to produce the sebum that it needs for your hair follicles to remain healthy. That's why it makes a lot of sense that if you're low in zinc, you could possibly suffer from some hair loss or, the very least, hair breakage. What can keep your tresses in good condition is if you consume around 8 mg of zinc daily. Foods that are high in it include Greek yogurt, cashews, black beans, sesame seeds and kale.

7. Sleepiness

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OK, if you're out here getting less than six hours a night on a consistent basis, that's probably not an indication that you are lacking a nutrient; what that probably means is you are sleep deprived.

However, if it seems like no matter how much sleep you get at night and/or naps you take during the day, you are still sleepy as all get out, what that could be telling you is that you are low in Vitamin B12. I can personally attest to this because I was sleepy a lot (and I get no less than six hours a night and sometimes a nap) until I started taking a B12 supplement. When you're low in this vitamin, it can trigger sleepiness or even sleeplessness because it plays a significant role in maintaining your energy levels.

It's kinda crazy that a lot of us are Vitamin B12 deficient when most of us only need .002 mg a day of it. Anyway, foods that are a good source of this nutrient include liver, fortified cereals, shellfish, nutritional yeast and milk alternatives (like almond or oat milk).

8. Food Cravings

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Last fall, I wrote an article about signs that you've got a sugar addiction going on (you can check it out here). One indication is if you're constantly wanting to eat sweets all of the time. Well, along these same lines, if you're experiencing food cravings, that too could mean that you've not some nutrient deficiencies happening. Sweets typically mean that you can stand to have more magnesium or tryptophan. Fatty foods mean you need more calcium. Red meat, caffeine or the desire to chew ice means you're low in iron. Salt is oftentimes connected to dehydration or an electrolyte imbalance.

Wanting to eat bread all of the time could also mean that you could use a tryptophan boost (because you are looking for something to make you feel better and bread is a comfort food. Tryptophan helps to produce the feel-good hormone serotonin so that you don't want bread as much). Foods that are high in tryptophan include tuna, cheese, turkey, milk and apples.

While I certainly wasn't able to tackle all of the nutrient deficient-related issues that exist, take this as a bit of an intro cheat sheet. Again, if you are currently experiencing any of these issues, try getting more vitamins and minerals into your system. You might be surprised just how big of an impact...a little bit of tweaking can make.

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