Brand ambassador Kerry Washington gives details on the new Heroes of Skin Health Equity initiative.
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How Kerry Washington and Neutrogena Are Making Skincare More Inclusive
Credit: InStar Images

The are inequalities in all areas of healthcare, and skin health is no exception. According to a 2011 U.S. survey, 47% of dermatologists and dermatology residents reported that their medical training (medical school and/or residency) was inadequate in training them on skin conditions in Black skin.

Along with the lack of training, the lack of Black and brown medical professionals and underrepresentation in skin health education lead to the misdiagnosis or late diagnosis of conditions. In an effort to close the gap in skin health inequality, Neutrogena has created the Heroes of Skin Health Equity initiative.

"There's so much to talk about in the culture right now, whether it's equity in healthcare, housing, or education, and to really focus on skin health feels so vital. It's our largest organ and I think we all truly deserve to feel comfortable in our skin," Neutrogena brand ambassador Kerry Washington tells InStyle. "So often the medical community has unconscious bias and has not been prepared to deal with the varying degrees and different needs of skin health in the Black and brown communities."

The brand is recognizing individuals who are working to make skincare more equitable in various sectors, including advocacy, education, expertise, and transparency. These Heroes of Skin Health Equity are being celebrated in a social ceremony co-hosted by Washington and fellow Neutrogena ambassador Jennifer Garner on the brand's U.S. TikTok at 8pm EST on Jan. 31.

The inaugural Heroes include: Malone Mukwende, founder of Hutano, a social health platform for Black and brown people; Sarah Jean Williams and Kyra Peters, emerging filmmakers who use their platforms to create educational skin health-related content for the BIPOC community; Dr. Adeline Kikam, board-certified dermatologist and founder of @brownskinderm, where she lends her expertise to those with Black and brown skin that want to better care for their skin; and Sabrina Noorani, founder of & CEO of ClearForMe, a digital resource that provides ingredient transparency to help Black and brown skin find the best products for their needs.

In addition to spotlighting and amplifying these Heroes' causes, Neutrogena will provide support to help further their work.

"Many of these people are who have been working with Neutrogena for years, so it's not something the brand woke up last week and decided to get into the equity game," Washington says of the Heroes. "The collaboration is tailored uniquely to what each of these innovators is doing in the world. So we're really excited to not only elevate them, but also amplify their work and support their work going forward."

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The cause is personal for Washington, who's experienced skin health inequity firsthand. "I've had eczema my whole life and I've had dermatologists – especially when I was much younger – prescribe a kind of topical medication that was not okay for pigmented skin or I've had dermatologists suggest a certain kind of laser exfoliation that I knew was something I couldn't do as pigmented person," she shares. "So it's really important to me that younger people don't have to face the same kind of issues that I did."