Growing up in…
northern California, Rachel Roff suffered from acne. As a teenager she was involved in a case study for various lasers at the University of California, San Francisco Medical Center because of an abnormal skin growth on her face. “These issues really affected my self-esteem growing up,” said the 25-year old. “My own issues led me to want to research skin care just so I knew how to help myself.” By opening Urban Skin Solutions on Mallard Creek Church Road last July, Roff, a licensed medical aesthetician and certified laser technician, is helping others deal with skin issues, especially those affecting darker skin tones.
An undeserved market
After graduating from UNC Charlotte in 2004 with a degree in sociology, Roff enrolled at and graduated from the National Aesthetic Institute of Charlotte, which is now closed. While taking classes at the aesthetician school, she began to realize that there were limited offerings for darker skin tones. “I had a very diverse upbringing and always had family members and friends with darker skin tones and lighter skin tones,” said Roff. “As I got into the industry and had different friends with darker skin tones going through issues with their skin, I would try to reach out to my school to find out what was available for them.” She was inspired to take postgraduate classes in skin color and pigmentation at the International Dermal Institute in Atlanta and to focus on darker skin in her business. “There are distinct differences in how you deal with darker skin tones,” said Roff. “Darker skin is much more reactive. It scars much easier. It gains or loses pigment very easily. One positive thing is that darker skin does not age nearly as much as lighter skin does, but, on the flip side, it’s very reactive to any injury.”
Although Roff sees clients of all skin types, about 75 percent of the more than 1,200 people who have come to a Urban Skin Solutions have had darker skin tones. The majority of the men who see Roff are African American, many of them seeking treatment for razor bumps. “Razor bumps (ingrown hairs) are very common with darker skin tones because you tend to get coarser, curlier hair with darker skin,” she said. Roff treats the condition with a YAG laser. “That’s actually one of my favorite treatments to do because the results are amazing.” It takes five to seven visits to treat razor bumps properly. Packages range from $225 to $875
Peels and laser treatments
With another aesthetician and a massage therapist on staff, Urban Skin Solutions has a variety of offerings, including the Jan Iredale makeup line and the Cosmedix and PCA skin care lines. However, the two most popular treatments are chemical peels and laser hair removal. “We do compound chemical peels,” explained Roff. “I actually have peels that are compounds of all different natural acids and some chemical, but the reason why those are so popular is because probably one of the biggest complaints that people come here for is uneven skin tone. They want to fade dark marks from past acne or past razor bumps… Chemical peels are great for evening out skin tone and for helping to control acne.” Facial chemical peels range from $90 for one treatment to $450 for a package of six and also are offered from the back and check. Roff offers laser hair removal for almost any place on the body that grows hair. The price ranges from $60 per visit for lips to $700 per visit for a female’s full body. She recommends five to seven visits for hair removal.
“It’s a misconception that darker skin tones can’t be treated by a laser,” said Roff. “It’s completely fine to treat someone with darker skin tone what a laser. It’s just a matter of being treated with a laser that is made for darker skin tones, which means that is goes deeper in the skin. A YAG laser does that.” Laser treatments also are available for acne on the face, chest and back ($150 for one face treatment to $1,000 for a back package of five), skin tightening ($200 for one face treatment to $1,200 for a package of five for the face and neck), veins (15 minutes for $150 to 45-minutes for $375), and scars and marks (10 minutes for $75 and 30 minutes for $150). Dr. Jeffrey Cardwell of University Family Physicians is the medical director for Urban Skin Solutions. Roff consults him about her clients’ medications and medical conditions to be certain of what treatments are appropriate. “It’s up to me to recognize conditions and then turn to him to treat them if they’re beyond my realm of licensing,” she said. “There is no quick fix for any corrective skin care. Everything we do here is in a series, whether it’s chemical peels or a laser treatment. It’s almost like reconditioning your skin to perform at a higher level.”