A panelist at the 2019 Forbes Woman Africa Summit in Durban, Dr Portia Gumede chatted to Omeshnie Naidoo.
“Your mom sold insurance?”
“Insurance, Tupperware, AMC...” is the frank-smiling response from Dr Portia Gumede as she exits the lift and takes in the second floor of the Independent Media offices in Greyville.
“She was a nurse too, but she was selling insurance when I last came here with her,” Gumede explains.
Her parents, a clerk and a nurse with five children from Clermont in KwaZulu-Natal, knew they wanted to fight apartheid with education.
“My mom and dad were always telling me 'you are very smart'. More importantly, I believed it.
“I did well in school and they used my results to apply to private schools. I got accepted at a few. They used those letters to find me a bursary.”
As it turns out Independent Media funded her high school career at Durban Girls College, paving the way for a degree in medicine and diploma in aesthetics and making her a surefire trailblazer.
A year ago she opened an aesthetics centre in swank Hyde Park Joburg.
As one of these most prominent black female doctors in South Africa she tells me what the women in the financial capital are up to.
“There is a huge interest in aesthetics from black people and not just in Tshwane. I have clients from across SA and our neighbouring countries.”
“Concerns are around pigmentation, acne and hair loss.”
“The myth is black don’t crack but dark skin goes dark faster than in other groups. We have the same amount of melanin but melanin in darker skin is more active.
“So the sun burns and pigmentation sets in. Women post-pregnancy or post-menopause may get pigmentation as well.
“When it comes to the field of aesthetics - which is invasive and therefore inflammatory - if you don’t understand this about dark skin, you can make it worse.
“Peels may be designed to rid the skin of pigmentation, but if the ph of the peel is too low it will do harm rather than good.
“African women should not do more than three micro needling sessions a year either.”
Gumede adds that with aesthetic clinics everywhere today - education is imperative.
“Fillers are minimally invasive, but if you keep doing them to create high cheekbones in already voluminous skin you could end up with a saggy face. A better alternative might be a non-surgical thread lift.”
“Many women suffer hair loss or alopecia due to wearing tight braids from a young age. Led light can help, so can micro needling as it rejuvenates the scalp by increasing blood circulation.
“Another common problem is urinary incontinence, recurring infections or vaginal dryness and lack of desire for intimacy. Women need bladder support after carrying a child. We’re losing collagen everywhere, even in the vagina, The o-shot, which is your own plasma is also very popular in this regard."
Aesthetics also include fat dissolving injections for small areas and laser for veins on the face and elsewhere.
“Remember African skin is generally oily and this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It does make us prone to acne, but skin wasn’t meant to be completely dry either.
“Skin lightening creams do more damage. Be confident in who you are and be the best version of you.”
Tips for when you’re seeing an aesthetics professional:
No pictures of who you want to look like please. Aim for a healthier, younger looking you.
Prevention is better than cure. Care for you hair. Comb carefully. Do not braid too tightly near the hairline. When adding extensions use a larger section of hair, instead of a small one to hold heavy extension.Don’t wear too tight wigs for too long. Don’t mix two chemical at once, example relaxer and dye.
Before using laser ask if it’s compatible with your skin. Darker skin usually needs more sections and at lower frequency.