Living a healthy lifestyle is pretty popular these days. Eating well and staying active are the most popular choices on the menu.But when it comes to healthy living, the skin is something that you just can’t hide and should be considered as well. Do you often think about maintaining healthy skin? Cleansing and moisturizing are the basics. However, that regimen may not be complete without protection. Cleansing and moisturizing are the most widely used products when it comes to caring for the skin. But sometimes protection gets lost in the shuffle when it comes to daily habits.
Some believe that the basics are just enough for young and old and everyone in between. But I’m not so sure. I spoke with Seven Brown, internationally licensed and respected Esthetician, owner of Harlem Skin Clinic to share the benefits of focus on healthy skin when it comes to beauty.
CC Minton: I hear conflicting ideas on the benefits of sunscreen and whether it’s necessary. Can you talk more about that?
Seven Brown: In terms of sunscreen, there’s a huge misconception. Most people of color think that they don’t need sunscreen and that’s not true. We have really high incidents of skin cancer nowadays. When you hear people talk about the ozone layer, it’s real. So basically as far as sunscreen, it should be used daily. I recommend a sunscreen protection factor (SPF) of 30.
CC Minton: What about protection during the winter?
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Seven Brown: People say why winter? Especially in New York, the sun comes out. Its miles away and it lights the world. If you can feel it, and see it you know its working and it’s going into your cells. We have different issues like hyper-pigmentation. One of the reasons we can’t get rid of it is because we don’t protect the skin. As the sun hits it, it deepens it, darkens it and then you have no protection. So you’re going home and using products to get rid of it and then walk out into the sun during the day. You’re not reversing anything and it’s not changing anything without the protection. It’s also like the number one form of aging. And granted we have an abundance of collagen, we still need protection. Sunscreen should be used during all four seasons.
CC Minton: What is the difference between SPF of 15, 30, and 45?
Seven Brown: The use of SPF 30 is perfect. A SPF of 15 is something you’d find inside of a moisturizer. It’s got it’s positive and negatives. The positive is that if someone is not using a sunscreen but will use SPF 15, it will at least have some protection. The negative is that cosmetics and drugs do not go into the same container. One is regulated by FDA and that’s the drug. You’ll find a crimp and an expiration date on sunscreen which is a classified drug. If you have sunscreen, how can it be in your moisturizer? Some companies use ingredients like zinc and titanium that provide some protection and then they label it as a moisturizer with sunscreen.
CC Minton: So what is the purpose of SPF 45?
Seven Brown: There are different people in the population who need more. People who have systemic diseases like lupus or cancer need higher doses. It also depends on the amount of time you spend in the sun and if it gets wet.
CC Minton: What do you recommend to get started?
Seven Brown: That’s a little tricky because it depends on your age, situation and condition. Starting with age, your first serum and your first real beauty product is sunscreen. So protecting your kids with sunscreen, that is their beauty product. It’s going to preserve their skin so that when they get older they are not faced with different challenges. In some countries where the sun is so bad and people are so light, if you don’t put sunscreen on your child it is a criminal offense.
CC Minton: Really?
Seven Brown: Yes. You can look it up. That’s because parents have control over their lives at a time where most of your sun damage is done before the age of 18. Kids spend most of their time outside. They’re running around outside, at the beach, in the sandbox and here and there. By the time they grow up and start to care about their skin, people are 25 or 30. That’s a little late. The first beauty product for kids is sunscreen.
As far as teenagers, the most important beauty product is a cleanser. They’re just dirty. I can’t put it any other way. They’re learning hygiene. Some care about it and some don’t. Even the ones who do it don’t always do a complete job. If you have a child in that age group, typically middle school, cleaning the skin properly and not over stripping is key. At this age hormones and bacteria are at work. Cleansing the skin properly gets rid of 50% of the bacteria. I do a lot of seminars at schools teaching students how to properly clean the skin; not too much and not too little. You get rid of a lot of the bacteria by just keeping yourself clean. Keep it simple….cleanser, moisturizer, sunscreen.
CC Minton: And young adults?
Seven Brown: As you go into your 20’s, everything splits. It depends on race, health, race, what your parents do, what you did before. This is where aging starts to separate. Intrinsic means inside of us which is influenced by environment, food, health, and care. Extrinsic is definitely care, environment as it relates to the sun or the wind. If you lived in Antarctica vs. Miami, it’s different. Where you work, inside or outside, comes in to play too. I have clients who climb telephone poles; high elevations and their skin looks like leather. Everything splits in your 20s. You can have a 20-year-old whose skin looks like a 60 year old. Chronological aging has to do with the normal progression of life. Some people are out of chronological order because of environment either internal or external. It’s not necessarily visible to the naked eye but we use high intensive lights here at the center as well as different types of instruments to really see into the skin.
CC Minton: Well I drive a convertible. Should I keep my top down?
Seven Brown: You drive a convertible so have fun. Wear your sunscreen, wear your hat and you’re fine. You just have to take precautions. Do what you can do.
CC Minton: Tell me about your philosophy of live a beautiful life inside an out.
Seven Brown: The first step to beauty is acceptance. I have a lot of conversations with people who come in and I say to them what would you like to see happen. It opens up a can of worms. They have 15 things. Sometimes I will crack a joke and say….Have you met me I’m Seven and that person you just described would be Jesus. What they want is not practical. Some things are not practical some things are not going to go away.
CC Minton: You have great skin. What’s your daily regimen?
Seven Brown: Here’s the part that’s really bad. Well it’s not bad. Everyone gets something in life. I loved to sing but I can’t. Instead I got skin. Eventually I fell into this category of work. This is hereditary. I really can’t take responsibility for it. It’s my parents. I’ve done things throughout my life to maintain it because if you don’t you can lose it. I drink water. I eat pretty well and I’m love vegetables. I’ve never been a person who where’s make-up but if you do, cleaning the skin properly is important.
CC Minton: Thank you.
Seven Brown: Thank you.
For more information on Seven Brown – Harlem Skin Clinic
PHOTO CREDIT: Richard E. Pelzer II.