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How Dr. Adeline Kikam’s Approach to Inclusive Dermatology is Changing Skincare for People of Color

Skincare can be blissful and challenging, particularly when it comes to picking the right products.

For people of color, this can be an even greater challenge, with a lack of representation for BIPOC communities being reflected in the skincare industry. That’s where Dr. Adeline Kikam is changing the game.

Adelaide Kikam
Photo Courtesy of Dr. Kikam

The board-certified dermatologist has developed initiatives like Brown Skin Derm and Skinclusive Dermatology that aim to tackle these challenges by sharing information and care that’s inclusive for all. Teaming up with Tom’s of Maine, she’s helping communities find skincare solutions that work for them while clarifying misconceptions surrounding common skincare practices.

In an exclusive interview with Modern Muze, Kikam shares her best skincare tips, the products she loves, and how communities can come together for more inclusive care.

As a board-certified dermatologist and advocate for inclusion in dermatologic health, could you share your perspective on the unique challenges people of color face in accessing effective dermatologic care and how initiatives like Brown Skin Derm™ and Skinclusive Dermatology™ aim to address these challenges?

 As a board-certified dermatologist and advocate for inclusion in dermatologic health, I’m deeply aware of the unique challenges that people of color face in accessing effective dermatologic care. Historically, dermatology has not adequately addressed the diverse range of skin types and tones present in our communities, leading to disparities in diagnosis, treatment, and outcomes. My online education through @brownskinderm and being a medical clinic, Skinclusive Dermatology™ aims to address these challenges by increasing representation, education, and access to dermatologic care that is inclusive of all individuals, especially those with skin of color. 

Tom’s of Maine is a natural and sustainable option for personal care products. From a dermatologist’s standpoint, what considerations should individuals, especially those with diverse skin types and tones, consider when selecting skincare products, including toothpaste and deodorant? 

When it comes to skincare, dental and personal care products, all individuals, regardless of background and skin tone, should prioritize products that have undergone strict standards for safety and efficacy when it comes to ingredient selection and overall formulation. Choose products that are formulated for your specific skin type and concerns. 

For individuals with darker skin tones, it’s important to be mindful of ingredients that may cause irritation due to the potential for hyperpigmentation. This includes harsh exfoliants, certain fragrances, and dyes. Instead, opt for gentle, fragrance-free formulations that are less likely to cause irritation. 

Tom’s of Maine is known for its natural and sustainable approach to personal care products, which makes it a good option for individuals with sensitive skin or those looking to avoid harsh chemicals — inclusive of all backgrounds. 

Given your expertise in dermatology and your commitment to representing people of color in medical and beauty spaces, how do you see the role of community engagement and education in promoting dermatologic health among marginalized communities?

Community engagement and education play a crucial role in promoting dermatologic health among marginalized communities and social media is a powerful tool to accomplish this. By using social media to educate on skin health, people are more informed about making the right decisions about their own skin health.

Collaborations with brands like Tom’s of Maine can further enhance these efforts because they are a brand that is rooted in equity and inclusion, whether it’s in their products or in how they give back and resource communities around us, and by them providing access to high-quality, sustainable solutions, like their new deodorant line, it allows derms like myself to have the confidence to recommend their products to our communities.  

In your experience, what are some misconceptions or myths surrounding skincare products, particularly those targeted towards people of color? 

In my experience, there are several misconceptions or myths surrounding skincare products targeted towards people of color. A common myth is that individuals with darker skin tones don’t need to wear sunscreen. In reality, everyone, regardless of skin color, is at risk of sun damage and skin cancer, making daily sunscreen use essential for all. Another misconception is that certain skincare ingredients are only suitable for specific skin types or tones. While it’s true that some ingredients may be more commonly recommended for certain concerns, such as hyperpigmentation or acne, many skincare ingredients are beneficial for a wide range of skin types and tones.

How do you view the intersection between sustainability and dermatologic health? What steps can both the skincare industry and consumers take to prioritize sustainable practices without compromising the efficacy and safety of skincare products? 

The intersection between sustainability and dermatologic health is an important one. Sustainable practices not only benefit the environment but can also contribute to healthier skin by reducing exposure to harmful chemicals and minimizing waste. Both the skincare industry and consumers can take steps to prioritize sustainability without compromising efficacy or safety. This includes using environmentally friendly packaging, sourcing ingredients responsibly, and reducing carbon emissions throughout the manufacturing process. That’s one of the reasons why I love the all-new Toms of Maine deodorant line.

As a B Corp, they prioritize sustainable and environmentally friendly practices and are dedicated to the mission of making products that are good for the consumer and the planet. Their new deodorant line is made with naturally sourced and derived moisture-locking ingredients, it is not tested on animals and is free from dyes, parabens, baking soda, and artificial fragrances and preservatives. Plus, the product container is made with 100% recycled plastic. Consumers can support brands that prioritize sustainability and advocate for more transparent labeling and ingredient sourcing practices.