Dr. Jeffery Benabio makes dermatology cool. Sure, he has a long academic and professional resume – Dr. Benabio is board certified in dermatology and is a fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology. He has been a Volunteer Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of California San Diego. He lobbies for the American Academy of Dermatology Association in Washington, DC and is a member of a number of professional organizations including the American Academy of Dermatology, The American Telemedicine Association, and The Dermatology Foundation. But he 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, skin care, and Houston Rockets star James Harden.
Mocha Man Style: Why did you pursue a career in dermatology?
Dr. Benabio: I decided to pursue a career in dermatology primarily because of my mentors in medical school. During 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 balance between work and home life, which was important to me.
MMS: Many guys neglect skin care because they don’t believe it’s manly? Why it is important for men to have a skin care regime?
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 isn’t effeminate – it’s what real men do and that’s why I partnered with Dove Men+Care, which celebrates men who are comfortable in their own skin and understand the importance of caring for themselves and others.
MMS: Should men use the same skin care 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.
Dr. Benabio: Actually, if you follow the steps outlined for shaving in #6, 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 10am and 2pm. 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 STD’s 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 anymore emails or answer the phone. Also, enjoy life. Having fun and socializing not only makes you feel better physiologically, it can 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.