“Girl, don’t mess your face up.”
“You won’t look like yourself anymore.”
“…besides, Black don’t crack!”
These are the sentiments I heard from my female family members and friends when I first mentioned wanting to try Botox to soften my smile lines a few years ago.
I wasn’t surprised by these comments as I’m aware there are misconceptions about cosmetic treatments like Botox and dermal fillers in the Black community. Some feel that women get these treatments to pursue Eurocentric standards of beauty or to stop the aging process.
Some Black women are apprehensive about trying new beauty treatments. Women of color are exposed to higher levels of toxic chemicals from beauty products, according to Dr. Kristen Trulear-Jackson, physician injector and operations director at Renew Med Spa in Waxhaw.
“Less than 25% of products marketed to women of color are rated safe by the Environmental Working Group,” she said.
Although injectables are approved by the Food and Drug Administration in the U.S., those considering beauty treatments should educate themselves about the treatments, and seek out a licensed provider who can explain all of the benefits and risks.
The sun’s UV rays accelerate the aging process regardless of race
There is scientific evidence that the sun’s ultraviolet rays can accelerate aging. However, melanin in darker skin tones helps protect us from the sun’s harmful rays that can cause fine lines, wrinkles, sun spots and hyperpigmentation. UV radiation degrades collagen and elastin, components that help our skin stay plump and youthful.
To offset damage caused by the sun, some women are turning to microneedling. Small needles prick the skin to produce more collagen resulting in smoother, tighter skin.
Two weeks ago, I tried the Lutronic Genius Microneedling Treatment at BodyLogicMD in Charlotte. At 37, I don’t have wrinkles or hyperpigmentation but was curious to find out if I’d see any tightening of my skin.
It took a little over an hour to prep my face with a special cleanser and numbing cream. The procedure took about 45 minutes. For a first-timer like myself, it was painful. There was no downtime, although I didn’t wear makeup for the first 24 hours after the procedure. I was told that it would take about three weeks to see a noticeable difference in my skin.
The younger you start Botox, the better
Neuromodulators are wrinkle-relaxing injections of botulinum toxin – known as Botox Cosmetic, Dysport or Xeomin — used to treat wrinkles, frown lines and crow’s feet. In 2018, nearly 7 million women opted for these minimally-invasive treatments, according to last year’s Plastic Surgery Statistics Report. African Americans represented 5% of the procedures.
The data also revealed that more women are trying these treatments at younger ages. Botox patients ages 30-39 were up to 18%, compared to 13% the year before. On average, the treatment costs about $400 per session.
What causes wrinkles and lines in the first place?
Repeated facial expressions like smiling or frowning cause folds in your skin. As you age, the collagen in your skin weakens which makes it difficult for your skin to recover from constant facial expressions. Some believe that starting Botox injections earlier will freeze your skin so it doesn’t crease. Freezing the folds with injections may reduce wrinkles in the future.
Yes, there are natural alternatives to help reduce the signs of aging
Trulear-Jackson sees patients who opt for platelet-rich plasma injections, or PRP, as an alternative to Botox-type procedures. Platelets play a major role in clot formation and tissue regeneration. If there is a break or injury to the skin, platelets are the first cells to spring into action. As new tissue is generated, new collagen is formed.
Trulear-Jackson described the treatment:
“The first step is to draw a sample of blood, then spin it down with a centrifuge to make the blood components separate. We then take the platelet-rich plasma layer and inject it into the skin, similar to how neuromodulators or dermal fillers would be injected.”
She said some patients prefer the idea of being injected with their plasma. It can also be combined with other treatments, like microneedling, for added effect.
So, does “Black crack”?
The simple answer: yes, but women of color have an advantage. Trulear-Jackson reminds us that the amount of melanin not only determines our skin color but also how our skin ages.
“Don’t forget there are other variables that can affect the way we age, like smoking, hydration, diet, exercise and genetics, so we all should do what we can to take care of our skin,” she said.
Nakisha Washington is a journalist who interviewed America’s first self-made female billionaire, a presidential candidate and her favorite reality TV personality all within 72 hours. Catch her talking career and lifestyle tips to curious millennials on her blog, theprofashionalist.com.