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You asked, and Dr. Dina D. Strachan, MD has answered. This board-certified dermatologist is a graduate of Harvard and Yale and currently holds a faculty appointment at NYU. We recently asked readers to submit their skincare questions for Dr. Strachan. Check out her responses to questions about  photo sensitivity, combination skin and dark circles.
1) I was diagnosed with photo sensitivity and within 5 minutes of being in the sun I burn all over. What is the best way to choose sun block and can I mix it with potion? -Robin
Dr. Strachan: The American Academy of Dermatology recommends use of a broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher everyday.  People with a history of photosensitivty would likely benefit from sunscreens with even higher SPFs.  Look for ingredients such as zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, and avobenzone- as this combination gives the best protection.  Sometimes zinc oxide and titanium dioxide sunscreens leave a whitish or purpulish film on people with darker skin.  Products with micronized versions of these ingredients would likely be more cosmetically acceptable in that case.
2) I have REALLY sensitive combination skin. It’s oilier in the spring and summer. What can I use that won’t clog my pores and break me out nor dry and burn my skin??  -Yale
Dr. Strachan: Sensitive skin that may be a sign that you have a skin condition such as eczema, seborrheic dermatitis or contact dermatitis.  If you are getting acne, it may have nothing to do with the products you are using, it may just be that you have acne that needs to be treated.  These problems may need to be diagnosed by a board-certified dermatologist.  Some product lines that are generally good for people with “sensitive” skin that are available in drugstores include Cetaphil, Cerave, and Aveeno Ultra calming.  Elta MD, is another affordable skin care line that is good for people with sensitive skin but this one is only available from a physician’s office.
3) I have crazy dark circles around my eyes..I went to a dermatologist and he said that it was the skin and not veins underneath. He wanted me to spend $80 on some in house product..but it’s a little pricey. Not to mention I’m allergic to hydroquinone. I’m not looking for perfection, but can I get close? Is my only option laser or is there a product, natural or other wise that can help me out? – Lakeshia
Dr. Strachan: Eyelid circles can be difficult to treat as people develop the appearance of darking around the eyes for multiple reasons.  For some the skin is actually darker because of genetics, sun, or contant rubbing because of allergies.  For others, thinner lighter skin shows dark blood vessels.  Also, as we age, our eyelid sockets get wider and our eyes may appear sunken and have shadows.  Treating this problem usually does require some investment of money.  For someone with dark circles from actual darkening of the skin here are some recommendations: wear sunscreen daily and use sunglasses.  Eye creams that exfoliate, such as those that contain a retinoid or a gylcolic acid may be helpful.  Glytone also has a new chemcial peel called the Enerpeel EL Systeml designed speifically to be used around the eyes.
Have a question for Dr. Strachan. Email us at with the subject “Skincare Question” or Facebook us
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