Photo courtesy of Dr. Chynna Steele

With the internet buzzing with the praise of coconut oil and shea butter, many wonder if these natural products are truly beneficial for the skin. Nationally renowned, board certified dermatologist Dr. Chynna Steele shares whether these simple ingredients help or hurt the skin.

Shea butter and coconut are popular for skin care, but are they truly beneficial?  
Both can be good moisturizers, but I wouldn’t look to either of them to fix or treat anything. People should be particularly careful with coconut oil, which can clog pores and cause or exacerbate acne.  

What is the most common skin care issue for African Americans?
Dark spots/blemishes, what we call hyperpigmentation, is really common in Black patients. It’s something that I treat all the time with chemical peels, creams, pads, etc.  

What are three major issues your patients often face?
Since [skin care] is superficial, and therefore always cosmetic, at least to some degree, many times patients delay treatment because they feel guilty or uncomfortable seeking care for it, like they’re being “vain.” We all care about how we look, though. It’s natural and it’s OK.  

Patients also get too much information from too many sources, and often it’s bad info. When it comes to skin care, patients are reading blogs, magazine articles, listening to friends and family. A lot of times, the treatments recommended aren’t applicable to what you actually have. Trying a hodgepodge of random things recommended from various sources almost always makes things worse and just confuses patients.

Cost can be a consideration, too. Often, dermatologic treatments or skin treatments aren’t covered by insurance. For instance, treatments for discoloration or blemishes is often an out-of-pocket cost. Patients don’t always like to hear that, but if you get a good regimen, then you can have excellent results that will be worth the expense.

What are some myths about skin care you would like to debunk?
There are a lot. A few of my top ones: drinking more water won’t give you better skin (it may hydrate your skin, but it won’t clear up acne or slow the aging process). Apple cider vinegar and coconut oil shouldn’t go on everything — they are not cure-alls. In fact, I don’t know of one single condition for which I recommend them. A lot of patients also seem to think that their breakouts are allergic reactions to something. There certainly are the allergic type of rashes, but they may not be as common as people think.  

What products do you recommend for skin care? For oily and dry skin?
I have several of them that I sell in my office. Generally, for oily skin, I recommend products with alpha hydroxy acids for cleansers and such. For dry skin, I recommend moisturizing cleansers designed for the face.

Nia Chantal

Journalist. Actress. Music Lover. Concert- Goer. Travel Enthusiast. Beauty Addict. Just a Southern girl living life to the fullest. Follow my journey on Instagram @niachantal