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Med -Spas Are Black Women’s Best-Kept Beauty Secret

The right skin-of-color expert can erase dark spots, acne scars and bumps, tattoos, peach fuzz, dry patches or fine lines to amp up your glow.

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Years of living on this earth can provide us with wisdom, clarity and more joyous experiences than we can handle. But it can also provide us with uneven skin tone, acne scars and maybe some random facial hair that we’d rather not discuss right now. And that’s why grown and gorgeous sisters in-the-know have been amping up their skincare routines. The skin-savvy among us supplement their basic cleanse and tone systems with regular visits to skincare professionals at medical spas.

Med-spas are sort of a cross between a dermatologist’s office and a day spa. State laws vary, but a physician generally oversees each client and dictates the course of treatment. Depending on the service, and whether it’s considered a medical treatment, it may be performed by a physician, physician’s assistant or nurse practitioner, registered nurse or aesthetician, says Maneeha Mahmood, owner of Aesthetica MedSpa in Paramus, New Jersey. “We can offer medical-grade skincare that a day spa wouldn’t be able to offer.” Med-spas also offer many other types of treatments, ranging from massages, facials and salt glows to tattoo removal, laser treatments and Botox injectables. Each facility may have its own special menu of acne and anti-aging treatments, as well. That’s why it’s important to find the facility that has just the right menu for you.

The African Americans among Mahmood’s clients often seek remedies for peach fuzz, dry skin and hyperpigmentation from old acne scars. To manage these conditions in one fell swoop, many turn to dermaplaning. This procedure involves running a scalpel across the face to exfoliate the skin and get rid of dry patches and peach fuzz. Clients with lighter skin tones who want to get rid of acne scars may be candidates for IPL laser treatments. But for people with darker skin, Mahmood sometimes recommends microneedling, in which a pen-shaped object with about 14 microneedles spins over the face, creating controlled damage to the skin. The body recognizes that it’s being damaged and produces healing collagen, which keeps the skin firm and supple. “Two to six treatments of that and now you’re getting rid of pigment without applying any heat,” says Mahmood. She stresses that care is needed in selecting aesthetic treatments suitable for darker skin to avoid issues such as burns, hyperpigmentation or keloids.

Lakeithia Stoves is happy with her results. She began seeing an aesthetician in 2014 to manage the excess hair and occasional severe acne breakouts she deals with as a result of a hormonal condition called polycystic ovary syndrome. “I started seeing a professional because my skin was extremely bumpy and none of my at-home treatments were working,” says Stoves. “It left me feeling very self-conscious, and [I wondered] if people were always looking at me. I needed someone who could assess my skin needs and tell me what my at-home regimen should include.” She regularly receives chemical peels to help reduce hyperpigmentation, waxing and facials, as needed.

But how do you find a med-spa with skincare professionals who can cater to your skin type? “Interview them,” says Angela Robles, owner of Euro Clear Skincare in Woodland Hills, California. “I think interviewing your aesthetician is first and foremost.” She recommends asking them a series of questions, including:
· How long have you been doing skincare?
· How many clients do you have?
· Are you trained and experienced in working on darker pigmented skin?

Robles also recommends checking the facility out on social media to get a better understanding of their client base. She cautions, however, that this should not be your sole method of vetting a skincare professional. In her experience, younger clients are more likely to allow an aesthetician to post their experiences online, so you might not get a well-rounded view of the spa’s clientele.

Mahmood recommends searching for a facility that offers a free consultation so you can get a little one-on-one time with the professional who might be spending an awful lot of time handling your skin. And you may discover that the treatment that you found through a search engine or on a video-sharing site may not be what’s best for your skin. “Have the physician actually see and touch your skin and then recommend a treatment for you,” says Mahmood. “Your own online research is never going to compare to a physician recommending something for you.”

And if you’re considering getting a heat-based treatment (e.g., laser hair removal) always use that consultation time to do a test run. Pick a small area behind the knee or some other discrete location to do a patch test. This will give you a chance to see what settings your skin can tolerate. “If you’re someone who’s dark-skinned and you go in and they’re firing that laser on your face that same day, it would be a red flag,” says Mahmood. “Always ask for a patch test. Look how the skin reacted after 24 to 48 hours. Then if it’s all good, go back for the treatment.”