Bake your back and you may pay the price long after the redness fades: Sunburns on your back are more likely to lead to melanoma—the deadliest form of skin cancer—than burns in any other location, research from Harvard finds.
In the study, men who had a severe sunburn on their back—even just one—were more than twice as likely to develop melanoma than those who’d never been sunburned.
Men who had sunburns on their lower limbs, faces, or arms still had an increased risk of melanoma compared those who hadn’t had a sunburn anywhere, but it was not as significant a risk as for those whose backs had been burned.
So why is your back so susceptible to the sun? It may be because your back is much less likely to receive regular exposure to the sun than your face, arms, or legs are, says study author Shaowei Wu, PhD. Then, when you whip off your shirt at the beach or on a sweltering run, your back suddenly receives hours-long sun exposure. And that level of intensive sun not only sends your risk of sunburn soaring, but also increases the subsequent threat of melanoma, Wu says.
Your move is simple: When the shirt comes off, the sunblock goes on. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends using one with broad-spectrum protection of 30 SPF or higher, applied every 2 hours.
And if you’ve already suffered a severe sunburn in the past, particularly on your trunk, you need to check your skin about every 3 months for signs of melanoma, Wu says. (Also make an appointment with a dermatologist for a yearly skin check.) These include things like new moles or changes in existing moles, blemishes, and freckles.
Spot something suspicious? Call your doctor or dermatologist. She can take a look, and if it seems abnormal, biopsy it to see if it’s cancer.
Originally featured on Prevention.com
There’s no denying that more and more people are getting cosmetic injections—botulinum toxin injections alone (Botox, Dysport) increased a whopping 759 percent between 2000 and 2015. But despite their growing popularity, there’s still a lot of contradictory information surrounding these beauty shots. “Everyone knows about injectables, but lots of people come in with preconceived notions,” says New York City dermatologist Paul Jarrod Frank. To help clear up the confusion, here’s the real deal on what’s true and what’s an urban (beauty) legend.
1. FACT: Injectables can have a preventative, anti-aging effect.
There is, in fact, some truth to the idea that injections work prophylactically—it’s not just marketing mumbo-jumbo. Take botulinum toxin, for example. By paralyzing the muscle, you’re preventing dynamic wrinkles (those caused by the muscle contractions), and ensuring that existing lines and wrinkles don’t become deeper, according to dermatologist Whitney Bowe, an associate clinical professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. Hyaluronic acid fillers also have proven long-term, anti-aging benefits. A 2007 study from the University of Michigan showed that the injection of non-animal-derived, stabilized hyaluronic acid (found in in fillers such as Restylane and Juvéderm) stimulated collagen production. “None of this means that you should start getting injections at age 19. The time to start is when something starts to bother you, but it’s good to know that it’s not only therapeutic but will also prevent wrinkle development over time,” adds Frank.
2. FICTION: Getting injected will make you look like you’ve had “work” done.
“It’s not what’s done, it’s how it’s done,” says Frank. “You only notice the bad work.” The overly taut, terrifyingly smooth foreheads of Hollywood starlets or bizarrely large duck lips of reality housewives are examples of excess. “There are too many examples of people who accidentally or purposely look like they had too much work done,” says Frank. To maintain a natural appearance, it’s about rejuvenating your looks, not making you look different. Find an injector who is experienced and understands anatomy and the natural proportions of the face, and no one has to know that you’ve gone under the needle.
3. FICTION: There’s a set amount of time that each injectable lasts.
”People believe there’s a set time limit, but that’s the biggest misconception. Articles and ads make sure to say ‘it lasts up to,’” says Frank. It’s not a hard-and-fast guarantee that the same will hold true for you. It simply means that when it was being tested, this was the longest it lasted. Many factors affect the longevity of the results, including which product is used and where it’s injected in the face. Rather than getting hung up on a set time frame, Frank suggests focusing on when you notice the effects starting to wear off and use that as a guideline. And it’s better to come in more frequently for subtle tweaks rather than book a yearly appointment where you do more. “Not only does this make for a more natural result, but it also spreads out the cost and minimizes any trauma to your face.” And when it comes to toxin injections, if you initially do them more frequently, you’ll eventually be able to use less and go longer in between, says Bowe: “If you go every three months the first year, you start to lose that muscle memory that creates the wrinkle. Over time, you’ll be able to stretch it out to every four or six months.”
4. FACT: These products are safe.
It’s understandable how the idea of deliberately injecting a known toxin into your body can seem dangerous. But botulinum toxin was first approved by the FDA in 1989 to treat crossed eyes and spasms of the eyelid, and it’s been used cosmetically for almost three decades. “People also worry about allergies, but you’re more likely to have a reaction to a vitamin or a tea that you buy in a natural-food store,” says Bowe, who says an allergy to neurotoxin is rare (though she adds that anyone with extensive drug allergies should be sure to mention this to their injector). And fillers like Restylane, Juvéderm, and Belotero use a stabilized form of hyaluronic acid, a sugar molecule. To further ensure your safety, however, it’s essential to only go to reputable and well-trained dermatologists and plastic surgeons who are using the actual, FDA-approved products. To that point…
5. FACT: You get what you pay for.
Now is not the time to bargain-shop. While many factors affect costs, at the end of the day, there’s no denying that these products are expensive, says Frank. “When you see deals and bargain prices for injectables, you’re either getting diluted product or the injector isn’t making money off of it. And if they’re not making any money off of it, they’re likely just using you as practice as they try and build a practice,” he cautions. Bottom line: Steer clear of Internet deals or steep discounts for any kind of cosmetic injection. Discuss your budget with your dermatologist or plastic surgeon and ask about the variation in pricing amongst the different brands, but be ready to pay up.
Originally featured on Allure.com
Moisturizers can be complicated—you have a lightweight moisturizer for the summer when your skin feels superoily, and a moisturizer for the winter when your skin is parched. You probably even bought those moisturizers because a friend told you one works wonders on dry skin or you read (possibly on this site) that your summer moisturizer won’t clog your pores. But do you really know how a good moisturizer is supposed to feel when you apply it? Should it take a while to soak in? And what exactly is a moisturizer?
Here’s your answer: “Moisturizers typically contain four classes of ingredients: Occlusives, like white petrolatum, form a protective seal over the skin; humectants, like hyaluronic acid, pull in water from deep skin layers; emollients, like glycerin, fill in cracks and roughness between skin cells so the skin feels smooth; and barrier-repair ingredients, like ceramides, replace natural fats that may be missing between skin cells, helping the outer skin layer function optimally,” says Joshua Zeichner, the director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. We continued this conversation and asked a group of dermatologists to let us know in their own words how a really great moisturizer should feel.
It should glide effortlessly on your skin and feel silky. “One of the key ingredients in a moisturizer that confers this property is dimethicone. Dimethicone’s role is to create a protective barrier on the skin’s surface so that water can’t escape and environmental irritants are kept out. Dimethicone is present in certain oil-free moisturizers, but in most cases, it’s included along with mineral or other oils, like jojoba oil and derivatives of petroleum.” —Patricia Ceballos, a dermatologist in New York City
It should contain a NMF (natural moisturizing factor), which is a real thing.”Natural moisturizing factors are molecules that help the moisturizer penetrate the outer layer of the skin and actually do the work of moisturizing. A good moisturizer should absorb quickly and not leave a greasy feeling on the skin. You want it to feel lightweight yet also hydrate the skin so that it feels supple and soft to the touch. Good moisturizers should be unscented, but the consistency depends on the type of skin you have—gel for oily skin, lotion for normal skin, and cream for dry skin.” —Kavita Mariwalla, a dermatologist in West Islip, New York
You shouldn’t be able to feel it. “A good moisturizer should absorb right into the skin and relieve any tightness or dryness. It should be lightweight so you can’t feel it as a distinct layer on the skin.” —Lotika Singh, a dermatologist in New York City
It shouldn’t smell like anything. “Choose a moisturizer that is fragrance-free to minimize risk of irritation, and also look for one that contains SPF to help protect your skin from UV rays. If it makes your skin feel oily or appear shiny, look for another product. Cosmetically elegant products just melt into the skin and begin the hydration process.” —Rebecca Tung, a dermatologist in La Grange Park, Illinois
A moisturizer should never, ever feel oily. “A great moisturizer should make your skin feel hydrated, not oily. It should absorb, leaving a clean finish, and not just sit on top of the skin. It should allow you to layer makeup on top of it without pilling up. Immediately, the skin should look plumped and fine lines should look softened if the product is truly moisturizing your skin. With consistent use of a moisturizer, the skin barrier will be better repaired, so overall the skin should be less irritable and sensitive. Good moisturizers can also normalize oil production, meaning if you are oily in patches, they should become more even throughout.” —Annie Chiu, a dermatologist in North Redondo Beach, California
Originally featured on Allure.com
At the sight of blackheads on your nose, the first course of action is to grab a trusty pore strip and let it work its magic. However, sometimes some stubborn blemishes get left behind and although you know better, you try to pick them out with your finger only to make the situation worse.
“If you pick a blackhead, the area around the hair follicle and oil gland may get inflamed,” says Dr. Melanie Palm, MD, MBA, medical director of Art of Skin MD in Solana Beach Calif. Caused by a mix of skin cells and bacteria, inflammation can result in redness, tenderness, and cystic lesions. “Inflammation in the area can lead to pain, unsightly acne cysts, and in worst case scenario, scarring. You basically don’t want to stoke the fire of a well behaving blackhead and make it inflamed and far worse,” explains Dr. Palm.
If you couldn’t resist taking your finger to your blackheads, your best bet is to cleanse the irritated area with a cream or wash that contains salicylic acid such as SkinCeuticals LHA Cleansing Gel. “As a beta hydroxy acid, salicylic acid penetrates down into the hair follicle and oil gland where blackheads start,” says Dr. Palm. “This helps to remove the sebum and debris that comprises a blackhead, and aids in healing post-inflammatory discoloration and inflammation resulting from picking a blackhead.” And of course, keeping your hands away from your breakout.
Another option that will be available soon at your drugstore is Differin Gel, the first prescription-strength adapalene gel to be available over-the-counter later this year. “This is a prescription-strength retinoid in the same class as Retin-A. This group of vitamin A derivatives helps normalize how skin within the hair follicle sheds and treats all forms of acne – blackheads, whiteheads, inflammatory acne, cysts, and post-inflammatory pigmentation. Applying this cream to areas prone to blackheads helps eliminate them over time,” says Dr. Palm.
In addition to treating swollen blackheads (which can take anywhere from a few days to weeks to completely heal) with a cream or wash, Dr. Palm recommends avoiding using oil-based products and ones that aren’t labeled “non-comedogenic” to prevent new blemishes from forming. And although picked blackheads don’t usually leave behind scars like cystic acne and whiteheads, it doesn’t mean that can’t happen. “Blackheads by definition and non-inflammatory and should not cause scarring. However, long-standing blackheads can enlarge, creating dilated pores over time,” she explains. “It’s important to treat inflammation early. Salicylic acid peels and using a retinol or retinoid cream are the most helpful means of improving impending scars and preventing discoloration.
Article originally featured on InStyle.com
If you’ve never had a chemical peel before, wipe all thoughts of red, flaky ‘Samantha from Sex And The City’ post-treatment skin out of your head right now. For a start, that whole sorry affair from season five of the hit HBO show was aired 14 (ouch) years ago when late ’90s peels were much less refined, and frankly, hurt like hell…
But fast-forward to today and gentle (we stress, gentle) chemical peels are seen by most derms and doctors as being just as essential to your skincare plan as antioxidants, sunscreen and efficient cleansing. Perhaps even more so.
“Getting regular light or superficial chemical peels is all part of a healthy skin regime,” explains Danae Markland, LE, CMLT and VP of education at PCA Skin, the brand recognized globally as the gold standard in professional chemical peels and the originator of the blended chemical peel – think amazing results without the downtime or side effects.
As part of a medical-grade, professionally-prescribed skincare plan (of which we’re HUGE advocates here at HintMD), chemical peels are gaining huge momentum right now. According to the American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, more people are getting them than ever. And who can blame us? By revealing deeper layers of fresh, untouched skin, chemical peels have the powerful ability to essentially make the skin look younger and practically ‘new’ again – and all this for much less than the cost of a series of lasers treatments.
Still not sure you need them in your life? Then allow Danae to convince you with not just one, but five mighty skin benefits of the chemical peel…
1. Chemical Peels Remove Surface Build-Up
“The top layer of the skin is made up of dead skin cells. And while this layer is important, the more cells build up on the surface, the duller your complexion will appear and the more likely you are to develop acne breakouts,” Danae says.
“Chemical peels help to loosen those dead cells and allow them to shed off over the next few days, revealing smoother, brighter skin.”
2. They Increase Cellular Proliferation
“In healthy skin, your cell turnover process takes approximately 28 days. As the skin ages and is exposed to environmental offenders, this process can slow down. New, healthy cells appear younger and, well, healthier. Regular chemical peels encourage a healthy cell turnover cycle.”
3. They Reduce Hyperpigmentation
“Dark spots in the skin appear darker the closer they are to the surface. With chemical peels, you are essentially raising this pigment to the surface and exfoliating it out of the skin. Depending on how deep the spot is, it may take a series of treatments to see the full results but with each peel, you should notice a brighter, more even skin tone.”
4. Chemical Peels Increase Collagen Production
“The application of acids, even in low percentages, creates stimulation in the skin. This stimulation triggers the response that leads to the development of collagen and other structural components in the skin. Building collagen will fill in fine lines and reduce the appearance of large pores and textural scarring.”
5. They Help Reduce Breakouts
“The acids used in many chemical peels provide antibacterial activity in addition to clearing out the follicle to keep skin blemish-free.”
As with any professional treatment, however, choosing a qualified, board-certified physician is vital. And if you fancy saving a few dollars with an at-home peel, then erase those thoughts from your brain, like now.
“Never try and do a peel yourself,” Danae warns. “I’ve seen people with scarring because they attempted to peel themselves at home, so please leave it to the professionals – it will be worth it!”
Originally featured on hintmd.com