Monday, June 27, 2011

The Insider: Dr. Heather Woolery-Lloyd, M.D

A true scientist at heart, Heather knew from a very young age that she wanted to be a physician. It was not until later in life that she realized her passion for helping women of color or as Heather prefers, women with “multi-hued skin tones”– which she describes as the range of skin tones including tan, olive, and brown skin. Her passion coupled with her expertise for treating patients with multi-hued skin tones helped lay the foundation for the development of her own product line, Specific Beauty.

Heather completed her Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy from Georgetown University and went on to graduate from the University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine before entering the school’s Dermatology and Cutaneous Surgery program where she served as Chief Resident in her final year. During her career, she has been honored with many awards and has been quoted frequently in medical journals and national magazines as a skincare expert on various topics including hyperpigmentation, melasma, aging skin, and cosmeceuticals.

Heather is a board certified dermatologist. She sees patients and conducts clinical research in private practice and at the University of Miami where she serves as the Director of Ethnic Skin Care. She is an active member of the American Academy of Dermatology, Skin of Color Society, National Medical Association, Women’s Dermatologic Society and Miami Dermatological Society.

Over the last decade, Heather has focused her time and energy into researching and developing effective treatments for the cosmetic concerns of multi-hued skin tones. Dr. Lloyd shared with BlackGivesBack how she gives back to her community, special skin care needs of multi-hued women, and her top three tips for taking care of your skin during the summer months:

What philanthropic initiatives are you involved with, and what causes are you the most passionate about?

I am always passionate about women's and girl's causes. I currently volunteer at a homeless shelter for women called Lotus House. It is located in Overtown in Miami and is a beautiful retreat in an urban setting. Lotus House embraces a holistic approach which includes bettering the mind and body. I teach a weekly Zumba class and the women love it. Sometimes we underestimate the power of exercise to improve our overall health (mind and body). It is very empowering. I also enjoy speaking with young girls/teenagers. I think it is so important to encourage them to pursue their dreams. I frequently speak at career days and for other youth organizations as a guest speaker about my path to becoming a dermatologist.

How did you realize your passion of treating women of color, that you term women with multi-hued skin tones, as a specialty?

When I entered my residency in dermatology I quickly realized that there was a dearth of research and information in skin of color. I decided very early in my residency to learn as much as I could because when I finished I wanted to be well prepared to treat this patient population. There was such a great need for this expertise and I embraced the opportunity. Upon completing my residency, I was named the Director of Ethnic Skincare at the University of Miami and I have continued to do research and serve this population over the last 10 years.

What special skin care needs do women with multi-hued skin tones have and how do your products from the Specific Beauty line address them?

Women with multi-hued skin tones often have hyperpigmentation or uneven skin tone. The Specific Beauty skincare regimen is designed to address this common concern in women with multi-hued skin tones. The reason why I developed the line was to fill a void in my practice. I needed an alternative to hydroquinone that was effective and there were no products on the market that met this need. Based on my years of research, I decided to design a Skin Brightening Serum that combined licorice, retinol and ginger root extract. This formula was based on the Kligman formula, a combination of hydroquinone, Retin A, and cortisone. Dermatologists have used the Kligman formula for years to treat pigment. My goal was to create an over the counter version of this formula with natural yet effective ingredients such as licorice root extract (decreases pigment) and ginger root extract (decreases inflammation). The Skin Brightening Serum is extremely effective at treating hyperpigmentation from acne, melasma and other common conditions in women with multi-hued skin tones. I also realized from my practice people do best with a regimen so I designed a full skin care regimen with cleansers, sunscreen, and moisturizers so that women would get the best possible results.

How important is one's diet in overall skin health?

There is one international study that found diets rich in healthy whole grains and lean meats were associated with younger looking skin. I think a healthy diet can only help your skin and you will get all of the other health benefits for your body at the same time.

What are your three tips for taking care of our skin during the summer months?

1) Wear sunscreen everyday. There are great moisturizers with sunscreens that are lightweight for daily use. Get a travel size for your purse so that you can apply sunscreen even if you forget to apply it at home.  2) For long days at the beach, also wear a hat with a four inch brim to protect your face harmful ultraviolet rays. 3) Use a sunscreen that also contains antioxidants. Antioxidants prevent the free radical damage from UV rays that enter the skin and make sunscreen much more effective.

Remember that sunscreen is important even in women with multi-hued skin tones. It prevents dark marks from getting darker. In addition, in these skin types, brown spots are also associated with aging so prevention is key!

Learn more about the Specific Beauty brand at

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