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Proper Skin Health Techniques

Skin health is an important issue for everyone but it is especially important to the LGBTQ+ community. Finding a health care doctor that understands your medical history, gender identity, and sexual orientation is difficult. It's very important for a healthcare provider, including dermatologists, to have a better understanding of the needs of the LGBTQ+ population.

According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, the number of melanoma deaths in the U.S. is expected to increase this year by over 5 percent. Studies show that gay and bisexual men are at a higher risk of being diagnosed with skin cancer due to indoor tanning and unprotected sun exposure. Even transgender people dealing with acne due to hormone therapy are susceptible.

We spoke with dermatologist Dr. Cuong Le with the U.S. Dermatology Partners to find out the ins and outs of skin care health. Dr. Le treats patients of all races and provides a safe space for LGBTQ patients. Education and understanding are his main concern and here is what he had to say regarding LGBTQ skin health:

Q: Why Is It Important To Moisturize?

A: Everyone should be moisturizing daily and make it a part of their routine. Moisturizing helps repair the skin barrier- which can be damaged in certain diseases like eczema or if you are using products that contain ingredients that can dry or irritate your skin. Moisturizing also helps hydrate the skin. This can make your skin look plumper, fill out fine lines and wrinkles, and healthier.

Q: What Are the Proper Steps To Moisturize?

A: Moisturizers work best if applied to damp skin. In the morning, wash your face with a gentle cleanser, apply a moisturizer, and then apply sunscreen. At night, wash the face with a gentle cleanser and apply the moisturizer to damp skin. If you have toners, serums, retinol, or retinoids, they would usually go on before the moisturizer.

Q: Does Moisturizing Matter by Gender? 

A: Everyone should be moisturizing regardless of their gender or sexual orientation. There might be a difference in how dry or oily the skin is - but even then that doesn't matter. Both dry skin and oily skin will benefit from moisturizing. Something else that might play a role is how complex your skin care regimen or routines are but that is specific to each person- not necessarily a gender or sexual orientation.

Q: What Are the Best Ingredients for Moisturizers?

A: Some ingredients to look out for are ceramides, glycerin, and hyaluronic acid. Humectants like glycerin and hyaluronic acid attract water. Ceramides help repair the skin barrier. Petrolatum is an occlusive that helps retain moisture in the skin.

Q: What Are the Worst Ingredients for Moisturizers?

A: There are some things that you should avoid if you are looking for a moisturizer. Fragrances, parabens, and dyes can be allergenic or irritating to some people with more sensitive skin. It might be good to avoid them if you are not sure. Night creams can contain retinol - which can irritate the skin and cause redness, peeling, and make products sting when applied. If you want to use something with retinol in it, I would introduce it slowly so your skin can get used to it. Some night creams also have AHAs or BHAs- these are weak acids that can also be irritating especially if they are overused.

A good skin care regimen does not have to be complicated and can consist of just a gentle cleanser, a good moisturizer, a good sunscreen, and retinol or retinoids.

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Good Skin Health

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Based on the interview from Dr. Le, we put together a little skin care routine that is very easy to follow and you can add to it as your skin care health needs. Remember, the different seasons also play an important role in skincare. During the summer months, you will most likely need a lighter moisturizer while during the winter months, you'll need a more thicker and richer moisturizer.

For Proper Skin Health, Start with a Basic Skin Care Routine

Every morning you should use the following routine:

  • Cleanse. Use a mild cleanser to remove dirt and grime that has built up overnight.
  • Moisturize. Use a moisturizer that works with your skin type and for the time of the season.
  • Sunscreen. You should be protecting your skin from the harmful effects of the sun.

Your nightly skincare routine should look something like this:

  • Cleanse. Again, use a mild cleanser to remove dirt and grime from the day.
  • Toner. Refresh your skin without stripping it of natural oils.
  • Treat. Use a product such as serums, spot treatments, or retinol to help repair skin damage, treat acne, or whatever your skin health needs may be.
  • Night Cream. Use a thicker moisturizer that will help with skin repair and hydrate your skin while you sleep.

What Skin Care Products Do You Need?

There are plenty of skincare products out there. It really comes down to your skin type and skin health. At the minimum, you should have a mild cleanser, moisturizer, and sunscreen. You can build from there. For instance, if you wear makeup, then having a makeup remover will clean a lot of the residue from your face before actually cleaning it. The cleanser will then remove any leftover residue that the makeup remover didn't get.

Photo courtesy of Lee Hatcher Instagram

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