You seem to be quite busy with practicing dermatology in a private practice and an academic setting, as well as lecturing at national and international conferences– how did you know when it was time to add Creator and Co-Founder of a beauty line into your schedule?
I specialize in skin of color and have a referral based practice, so many of my patients have challenging cases. As an expert in treating hyperpigmentation, I found that I needed an alternative to hydroquinone. Although hydroquinone is an effective treatment, many of my patients could not tolerate hydroquinone or did not want to use it for various reasons. I decided to create Specific Beauty so that I could offer my patients an effective treatment for hyperpigmentation that did not contain hydroquinone. Based on years of clinical research, I developed a formula that was based on science that offered my patients a hydroquinone free option to treat uneven skin tone and hyperpigmentation.
What sparked your passion for the dermatology field? Did you once battle problem skin as so many women do?
I chose dermatology for so many reasons. It is a visual specialty. I love the idea that I can diagnose a patient simply by examining their skin. Dermatology is also a very rewarding specialty because skin diseases can have a tremendous impact on quality of life. I, like many adult women, have adult acne and we all know how just even having one big pimple can change your day-or even your week. You can only imagine how successful treatment of a disfiguring skin condition like severe cystic acne can have a tremendous impact on a patient's quality of life.
What is the most common mistake that women make when it comes to caring for their skin?
The most common mistake women make is that they don't wear sunscreen. The most common complaint in my practice is uneven skin tone and my first question is "Do you wear sunscreen every day?" Most patients say “No”, and many women do not realize that regular incidental sun exposure can significantly contribute to uneven skin tone and dark spots from acne. Daily sunscreen use is essential to prevent this.
We are thrilled to have Specific Beauty’s Night Treatment Complex in our September COCOTIQUE box. What products would you recommend using in tandem with it?
We just introduced the Dermatologist Strength Dark Spot Corrector Pads which have been a tremendous success. Everyone LOVES this product. They are easy to use pads that contain a therapeutic combination of natural ingredients to even skin tone and erase dark spots. An added bonus is that the skin texture improves almost immediately!
Why is night time an ideal time to treat skin texture and assist with brightening?
We used to prescribe skin regimens at night because older formulations of retinol were not stable in sunlight. We now have stable retinol formulations but we still use night time treatments for a variety of reasons. First, it allows a treatment to work over several hours while you sleep. Other factors like make up, sunscreen, and sweating do not interfere with the application of night time treatments. Also, in general, women are more compliant with their skincare regimens at night so it is an ideal time for an intensive treatment to get results.
What 3 products should be in every woman’s beauty arsenal, and why?
Sunscreen - Prevents many signs of aging, but most importantly, in skin of color, sunscreen helps to prevent uneven skin tone and hyperpigmentation.
Antioxidants - Reduce inflammation in our skin. They also prevent free radicals that lead to inflammation and resulting hyperpigmentation.
Retinol - One of the most important inventions in dermatologic history because this ingredient is the most proven ingredient to treat fine lines and wrinkles. It is also an essential component when treating hyperpigmentation because it exfoliates, brightens, and helps other ingredients penetrate to work more effectively.
You are launching an initiative, called CodElla, aimed at empowering young women through technology. Tell us why it is important for girls to be engaged in Science Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Math (STEAM) and to learn digital skills.
As a woman who has studied science my entire life, I am well aware of how underrepresented women are in these fields. For example, even though in elementary and middle school, girls and boys were represented equally in my gifted classes, by the time we got to high school I was the only girl that chose to continue taking gifted science classes.
The big question is...why did the girls stop pursuing these fields? I went to high school over 20 years ago and I know that there have been huge strides since then-especially in the sciences. Now women outnumber men in medical school admissions.
But in technology, girls are still largely underrepresented and this needs to change. Just because they know how to use devices doesn’t make them tech savvy. The reality is we need to make sure our daughters attain and grow a level of digital literacy and fluency, which equips them with the skills they will need to be relevant in a highly competitive global workforce.
CodELLA will offer girls an opportunity to be exposed to coding, robotics, computational and innovation thinking. Early exposure is key and CodELLA will be the first initiative to focus on elementary school age underrepresented girls with a fun and interactive best practice based curriculum of this scope.
We all know knowledge is power, and we also know – from published research, that girls who are exposed to coding and computational thinking at an earlier age just might get excited about pursuing a STEAM focused career.
Unfortunately the United States does not have a standardized curriculum in the area of computer science – if we do not step up – I’m speaking about the private sector and form partnerships with the public sector – to bridge educational gaps, underrepresented youth will fall further behind. Not only will they suffer the consequences of underemployment - but our industry - which relies on innovation – will also suffer.
I’m committed to making sure that underrepresented girls move from being technology users to technology makers, so that they can meaningfully participate in tomorrow’s economy – the way I’m participating today.
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