They show up on your skin from time to time. You find them on your face, your arms, legs, or anywhere you've touched your skin or maybe not touched your skin. By touch, I mean to pick, squeeze, or scratch an area of skin that is inflamed or healing.
Well, what is it? Is it just a scar? What causes this ugly darkening of the skin?
As told to me by my dermatologist, this skin condition is called Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIH). PIH is an injury or disorder of the skin. Essentially, it is the darkening of the skin after an injury from a cut, a burn, an insect bite, or more commonly acne. As the skin heals, an overproduction of melanin is produced. The extra melanin darkens and discolors the skin; the skin remains discolored after the wound has healed.
This is also how my skin heals and how everyone else with PIH heals. In the words of TLC, these dark spots on my face made me feel so damn unpretty. I felt like I never had good skin, even though people admired my complexion. I developed skin problems younger than most adolescent girls. I was so young, and I didn't have a good understanding of skincare. Especially, being a woman of color growing up in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Options were limited, and certain ingredients found in over-the-counter skincare products can further irritate PIH.
Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation is a skin condition that affects men and women equally. This includes all skin types and more so people with skin of color. The majority of African-American women are susceptible to this disorder; roughly forty-five to eighty-three percent. The discoloration can take anywhere from three to twenty-four months to fade. Say what? While I am completely in love with my dark sun-kissed skin; the darker skin, the darker the spot, and the longer the healing process. Trust me. I have lived with post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation for a whole thirty-five years of life as I am sure many other women do too.
There is hope my melanin poppin' queens.
Treatment for PIH is readily available and there are more skincare options for women of color today than there were a decade ago. My skincare skills have increasingly been on point as I slide into my thirties. Here are some tips and products I have used to treat my post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.
A Good Dermatologist
I cannot stress enough how important it is to find a good dermatologist, let alone a good esthetician. You want someone who takes the time to examine your skin, listen to your concerns, recommend a skincare routine, and prescribe medications (retinol, azelaic acid, glycolic acid, salicylic acid scrub, and a sulfur wash) that work for you. You don't want someone who is out to provide or sell services just to make a profit. I probably have gone through five different dermatologists over the last ten years. Recently, I found myself returning to my childhood dermatologist. To me, a good dermatologist (a good anything) is like dating, you're going to go through a few until there is that one that meets your needs.
Stop Touching Your Skin
Don't you dare pop that pimple, pick that scab, cyst, ingrown hair, or scratch that mosquito bite. I promise you; you will be sorry later. We're all guilty of this though. Thanks, Dr. Pimple Popper for showcasing your skills. There is some kind of innate relief associated with popping pimples; disgusting yet satisfying. I know because my esthetician low key revealed this to me. Seriously, picking at your skin only makes hyperpigmentation worse and does not allow the discoloration to heal and fade. If you need to have blackheads or cysts removed, see a professional.
I scheduled a series of chemical peels at my local dermatologist's office. I tried a twenty to thirty percent salicylic acid peel for a period of three months (a chemical peel is recommended every four to six weeks). Chemical peels remove dead skin, promote skin growth, and even your skin tone. Everyone's result will be different, and your skin is guaranteed to peel as if you were sunburned. Sunblock and moisturizers are so necessary when undergoing this treatment. I was pleased with my results, but I probably needed a second round of treatment to achieve my desired results.
I had my first facial in January 2018 and the results were amazing. I couldn't believe the difference in my skin. I found an esthetician that I can trust with my skin. Let me just say, this is not easy to do. Unfortunately, sometimes we as women overpay for services based on an advertisement or because it sounds good. The majority of the time these services are not needed and are not conducive to individual skincare needs. So be careful. A good esthetician will always tell you the truth and set you straight. Estheticians and dermatologists generally recommend a facial at least once a month.
Game-changer. Dermaplaning is the removal of dead skin cells and hair ("peach fuzz") from the face by using a surgical scalpel. The first time I received a dermaplaning treatment, I could not believe all the hair and old skin that was removed from my face. My skin was so soft, even, and brand new. I was legit glowing. Most estheticians or dermatologists offer this service and it's recommended every 3-4 weeks. Did you know every time you undergo dermaplaning, you are removing two to three weeks of dead skin?
These are my go-to-solutions to live with not having flawless skin due to post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. Try whatever works for you and your skin.
Originally published on Medium
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Camille is a lover of all things skin, curls, music, justice, and wanderlust; oceans and islands are her thing. Her words inspire and her power is her voice. A California native with Trinidadian roots, she has penned personal essays, interviews, and lifestyle pieces for POPSUGAR, FEMI magazine, and SelfishBabe. Camille is currently creating a life she loves through words, self-love, fitness, travel, and empowerment. You can follow her on Instagram @cam_just_living or @written_by_cam.
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
There’s people who perform songs, and then there’s performers, and let me tell you something: Victoria Monét is a PERFORMER. I first fell in love with her as an artist after hearing her hit song “Moment,” and then when her album JAGUAR was released in 2020, I was hooked. JAGUAR was one of those albums that I kept on repeat as I and the rest of the world were going through the motions of being in a pandemic. I remember watching her perform her single “Jaguar” from the album on her YouTube channel, and the way she performed so effortlessly with such confidence, I knew I had to see her live.
Luckily, I got the opportunity. Along with dropping JAGUAR II, which features the viral single “On My Mama,” Victoria also announced The Jaguar Tour, and as soon as the tickets dropped, it quickly sold out. I attended her Atlanta show at the Buckhead Theatre, and besides being met with a sea of concertgoers from wall to wall, my ears were immediately hit with a beautiful voice from none other than Alex Vaughn, who opened for the mother of one. Once Alex finished her set, it was time for the main event.
Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images
As soon as Victoria stepped on stage, it was hers. She commanded the room with her sultry voice and hypnotic dance moves, performing songs from albums JAGUAR I and II and previous projects such as Life After Love, Pt. 1. Fans were singing her songs word for word to the point where, at times, you no longer heard her singing. However, it was clear that she was in a room filled with love and support, and she also showed it back on stage. The singer rarely took breaks in between songs and dazzled fans with her smooth moves that is reminiscent of the legendary Janet Jackson.
One of my favorite moments was when she performed “Cadillac (A Pimp’s Anthem).” She dressed in a trench coat and fedora, complete with her pimp cane, and another big moment was when she performed “Stop (Askin’ Me 4Shyt)”. Overall, it was nice to vibe out to live performances of some of my personal faves like “Ass Like That,” “How Does It Make You Feel,” “Alright,” and “Big Boss.” In a recent cover story for Galore, Victoria revealed what she hopes concert attendees walk away with.
“On tour, I really wanna give people the best version of Victoria on stage, better than I’ve ever been before. I’m hoping people have the time of their life at the show,” she said. After working behind the scenes as a songwriter for so long, the California native now has all eyes on her, and it’s clear she was ready for this moment.
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Feature image by Paras Griffin/Getty Images