Dr. Jeffrey Benabio makes dermatology cool. Although he has a long academic and professional resume, Dr. Benabio remains a laid-back guy who likes to have fun and interact with his patients.
In his TEDx talk, “Reinventing the Physician,” Dr. Benabio shares some thoughtful observations about the future of the profession.
“Physicians must liberally adopt new technologies and partner with patients to help them get and stay healthy,” Dr. Benabio said. ” These actions will be the keys to successful doctor/patient relationships in the future.”
I talked to Dr. Benabio about health, skincare, and Houston Rockets star James Harden.
Mocha Man Style: Why did you pursue a career in dermatology?
Dr. Jeffrey Benabio: I decided to pursue a career in dermatology primarily because of my mentors in medical school. During my third year, I rotated to many different specialties and was most impressed with the folks in the dermatology department. They were intelligent, inspiring, and supportive. They also found a balance between work and home life, which was important to me.
MMS: Many guys neglect skincare because they don’t believe it’s manly? Why it is important for men to have a skincare routine?
Dr. Benabio: It’s important because your skin is there for everyone to see and how healthy or unhealthy it looks is a reflection on you. Perfection shouldn’t be the goal – clean, healthy skin should be. Daily washing, shaving, and moisturizing aren’t effeminate – it’s what real men do.
MMS: Should men use the same skincare products that their wives use?
Dr. Benabio: Absolutely not. You wouldn’t use her Cherry Blossom bubble bath, so don’t use her soap or lotion either. Men’s products are designed for men’s skin, which as you might imagine is different from women’s skin.
MMS: Most men hate to shave, but it is a necessary evil. How can we make the process less painful?
Dr. Benabio: Shave after your shower, when your skin and hair is softened and easier to shave. Keep it simple. Use a less expensive 2-blade razor. No one needs 5-blades for a clean shave. OTC shaving cream is fine; you don’t need expensive designer products. Rub shaving cream in well and let sit for 2 minutes, then shave with the grain of the hair and rinse the blade under hot water after a couple of strokes. Rinse with hot water and pat dry. Use a post-shave balm or lotion to reduce irritation and to replace the moisture lost in your skin.
MMS: What advice do you have for African-American men who may suffer from razor bumps?
Dr. Benabio: If you follow the proper shaving techniques and keep your skin moisturized, you’ll reduce the likelihood of razor bumps. Sometimes switching to an electric razor is necessary, even if temporary, until the razor bumps subside.
MMS: I want to grow a beard like James Harden’s (Houston Rockets). What steps should I take?
Dr. Benabio: Push-ups. Lots of them.
MMS: As an African-American man, I’ve heard many people say that I don’t have to worry about skin cancer because my melanin protects me. What is your opinion?
Dr. Benabio: Your melanin certainly does protect you. People with darkly pigmented skin are at a much-reduced risk for skin cancer. The risk is not zero and the amount of pigment varies greatly in people of color. Safe sun practices apply to everyone and should include wearing sunscreen, covering up, and avoiding the sun between 10 am and 2 pm. Oftentimes, people of color have to use a chemical sunscreen because titanium leaves a whitish film on their skin so look for broad-spectrum sunscreens with avabenzone or oxybenzone.
MMS: What other skin diseases should men be concerned about?
Dr. Benabio: Skin fungus is common among men — think nail fungus, athlete’s foot, jock itch. So too are STDs such as genital warts.
MMS: What can men do to live healthier lifestyles?
Dr. Benabio: Men should be doing the same things everyone else should be doing: exercising regularly, eating a healthy, well-balanced diet, limiting processed foods and eating out, not smoking, and not drinking too much. Also important, but often overlooked, is getting enough sleep. Most people need 7-9 hours a night but get far less.
Over time, lack of sleep can increase your risk for many diseases including heart disease and stroke. Daily stress reduction techniques (it doesn’t have to be yoga, just something that you find calming and relaxing) are key as well.
Most importantly: Unplug. Set a cut-off time each night, when you won’t read any more emails or answer the phone. Also, enjoy life. Having fun and socializing not only makes you feel better physiologically, but it can also actually improve your health.
MMS: What steps can men take to be more comfortable in their own skin (both literally and figuratively)?
Dr. Benabio: Choose products that feel good on your skin and stick with them. Don’t spend a ton of money on products you don’t need like toners and eye creams. Realize that taking care of your skin isn’t being vain; it’s being smart. Clean, healthy skin reflects a healthy guy inside and out. That’s the best way to feel more comfortable in your own skin, literally and figuratively.
MMS: Glamour magazine recently named you a “Rock Star of Dermatology.” Do you have moves like Jagger?
Dr. Benabio: I’ll show you right now. Are you on Skype? (note: Dr. Benabio does in fact have moves like Jagger)
MMS: Who would win an arm-wrestling match: you or Dr. Oz?
Dr. Benabio: Me. I’m actually growing a beard like James Harden.
To learn more about Dr. Jeffrey Benabio, visit his website.