Prevent. Protect. Get Checked. You Can Control Skin Cancer

In the United States alone, one person dies every hour of melanoma.  You guys, it's the only preventable cancer.  You are in control.  To spread the awareness of melanoma I partnered with Skinceuticals to create this video along with Top Chef host, Padma Lakshmi, Fashion designer, Rebecca Minkoff, NHL star, Sean Avery, Lifestyle Blogger, Derek Blasberg, New York Society Influencer, Annabelle Dexter-Jones.  For every share, $1 will be donated to Melanoma Research Alliance.  Please share, but more than anything, get checked.


Tan Skin is Damaged Skin, The Shocking Truth that I Swear By & You Should Too

Tan skin is damaged skin.  There's almost nothing I crave more than a "healthy" bronzed glow.  Especially during this time of year.  The way I used to feel, warm and relaxed inside the tanning bed day after day throughout college... those days are long gone.  Tan skin is damaged skin.  Damaged.  I can't stress it enough and feel many people hear it but don't actually comprehend it.  The "it won't happen to me" mentality is far too common.  But guess what, it will. As a BeautySweetSpot reader, you know how passionate I am about skin cancer awareness.  Last year's "Confessions of A Former Tanorexic" blog post lead to a Good Morning America feature and much more.  This week, as I prepare to vacation in Puerto Rico with my fiance, I'll be getting spray tanned before we go and of course, taking all precautions to practice safe sun while there.

“Skin cancer isn’t formed from just severe burns, continual tanning can play a role as well,” advises Dr. Marina Peredo.  Trust me, and if you don't believe me, trust the dermatologist.  Especially as the weather warms up and you begin to desire some color, remember tanned skin is damaged skin.  If you are at a higher risk for skin cancers, Dr. Peredo recommends her patients receive a full body check every six months to monitor any suspicious spots.

Confessions of A Former Tanning Bed Addict in Honor of Melanoma Monday

Yep, that's me in the pic above.  As a former tanning bed addict, I cannot stress enough how important it is to protect your skin from the sun.  Before my first job at Cosmopolitan I laid in a tanning bed every single day.  Everyday for years.  My job in the beauty department probably saved my life.  Now, I'm still practicing what I preach, because it's no joke – it's a life or death situation.  As a matter of fact, according to the AAD, one person dies of melanoma every hour in the US.  Shocking?  Read on, because as a former addict, if you're still baking, I get it, but it's time to get it through your head.  Better late than never.  Here's my story... Not only is Melanoma the most serious type of skin cancer, but believe it or not, it will account for more than 75,000 cases of skin cancer this year.  Not me.  Not this year, or ever.  Can you say that?  For me it started with junior proms, I along with all of my friends would go tanning the week before prom.  I wouldn't do it again until the senior prom, but it really got bad in college.  I went to school on Staten Island and having a dark tan was part of my look.  I'm not talking about a healthy glow, I'm talking about having skin the shade of burnt toast that constantly smelled baked.  Yes, I thought it was attractive and was never dark enough.  I was addicted.

I didn't need to wear as much makeup as my skin looked better, my black eyeliner popped against the whites of my eyes and my smile always looked white too.  On top of that I appeared more toned, skinnier.  The perks of being tan seemed to outweigh any risks that may come later.  After all, I always thought I was invincible.  Until I landed my dream job as the Beauty Assistant for Cosmopolitan magazine.

I was told by the department I couldn't tan any longer if I was going to work there as it's an oxymoron for beauty writers to go tanning.  Cosmo was all about safe sun, SPF 15 or higher and they just launched a campaign against indoor tanning.  I quit cold turkey and it sucked.  I felt ugly and fat.  Immediately!  Of course I had a plethora of self tanners at my finger tips to test out, but it wasn't the same. I missed the bake and burnt color I would get from the beds.  Nothing compared.  However, the more invested and passionate I became about my job, the more I began to face the facts and wanted to practice what I preached.

Today, I'm an avid SPF 30 wearer and preach, preach, preach.  I can't believe tanning beds are still in existence and go to my derm for yearly skin checks to make sure I'm safe.  I'm obsessed with self tanners and can't believe I thought what I was doing looked attractive.  I looked like a raisin!  While I have been lucky so far, I am paying for my sun damage in other ways – hyperpigmentation and crows feet.  My skin looks older than I am so thank God for great products, because the situation I'm dealing with at 29 is not cool.

I'll leave you with the new FDA guidelines for SPF.  Next time you think about spritzing tanning oil all over yourself and baking in the sun, think about the facts.  Like me, you're not invincible.


New App Detects Skin Cancer, Does It Really Work?

Earlier this month I received an email from a publicist about SpotCheck, a new application available on iTunes and invented by Dr. Bobby Buka that allows you to upload an image of a potentially dangerous mole with your smartphone, send it into a board of dermatologists for review with no co-pay.  Sounds genius right?  Of course, but as a skeptical journalist I spoke with Dr. Ilyse Lefkowicz to get another opinion before you spend the $4.99 submitting a photo. "While this sounds like a wonderful app for those who can't get in to see a derm or who can't afford it, I have many issues with it," remarks Dr. Lefkowicz.

Top Concerns:

1. The quality of the photo

If a user logs onto the website, they'll see photo instructions that advise to choose a room with lots of light, not to zoom in on the mole and not to use flash.  However, I doubt most users would log on to review the tutorial.  "I would not feel comfortable making a diagnosis based on a picture taken by an ameteur," Dr. Lefkowicz comments.  The FDA recently approved of Melafind after years of research, which is a hand held scanner and computer program that dermatologists are using in office now to analyze images of moles.  This app doesn't compare.

2. History matters

"When diagnosing a skin lesion I need to know the whole story when forming conclusions," states Dr. Lefkowicz.  While SpotCheck doesn't actually diagnose, it does let you know if your mole is potentially dangerous and recommend whether or not you visit a derm.

3. It's not always cancer

When being told by an app that you have a potentially dangerous mole, you're automatically going to think the worst – melanoma?  However, that may not be the case. It's important for dermatologists to perform a full body scan, because often times many people have several abnormal moles, which is OK.  "It's comforting when I see a patient has more than one abnormal lesion," comments Dr. Lefkowitz.  "Even though they may appear suspicious, it's typical and they don't always have to come off."

As I suspected, the app is beneficial for those who don't regularly visit a derm or those who are on a budget.  I can only hope that those who are using it are sending in clear enough photos and taking action by following up with an in office visit if they get a negative response.  In the end, when it comes to potentially life threatening moles, the choice is yours.  Ask yourself... is relying on your smart phone worth it?

Melanoma Awareness: Prevent, Protect and Get Checked

Last month I reported on the scary truths behind skin cancer and since May is Melanoma month, I feel it's only right to point out a few more facts.  As we cross out days on our calendars leading up to Memorial Day Weekend it's important to remember why sunscreen is so key not just in the summer months, but year round. Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer and one person in the US dies of it every hour.  Can you even grasp that?  This month, many skincare brands are building awareness campaigns around Melanoma, but you should be cautious and take care of your skin year round.  I recently went to my dermatologist for a full body scan to make sure I'm OK.

SkinCeuticals began a mission to raise more awareness of Melanoma by educating people on prevention, protection and getting checked.  They're encouraging Facebook fans to share their story on the how melanoma has affected them or how they plan to stay protected this summer.  They're also donating $20 to the Melanoma Research Alliance for every video uploaded to the Facebook page, or $2 for every written post. Each user who uploads a video will also get a free full-size Physical Fusion UV Defense SPF 50.

The Truth About Skin Cancer Today

As we welcome Spring I know how tempting it is to get good color, lay out on a nice day and yes, even pay a visit to a tanning salon before a vacation or big event.   Therefore, I feel it's my responsibility, as a former tanorexic and beauty writer, to report the facts on skincancer that I can only hope you pay attention to. First off, skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the US and in most cases, it can easily be avoided, yet over 3.5 million cases are diagnosed yearly.  Have you ever blistered from a sunburn?  I know I have.  If you're like me, you have more than two times the chance of developing melanoma in your lifetime.  Do I have your attention now?

Well, believe it or not over 30 million Americans are still using tanning beds.  Imagine the protection they're supplying themselves when they're in the sun?  I had those days.  I was bad to my skin and I can only hope that I'll be OK.  As I head off to Punta Cana and St. Thomas within the next few weeks I'll be loading up on my SPF.  My pick – MD Solar Science.  The line has a wide range of SPF's along with a broad spectrum of UVA and UVB protection and was developed by physicians.

Take Action to Prevent Skin Cancer

May is Skin Cancer Awareness month so it is my duty as a journalist to bring a few important messages to your attention.  First and foremost it alarms me to know that 50% of Americans still don't use sunscreen when one if five people will develop skin cancer during the course of a lifetime. If you are one of those people or know someone who is, take the time this month to get educated or educate someone and help save a life.  For about six years I lived in a tanning bed daily and basked in the sun slathered in nothing but oil.  My first journalism job in the beauty department at Cosmopolitan magazine may have saved my life.  I know it seems like a stretch, but my boss (and the whole staff) forbid me to tan.  We had to practice what we preached at Cosmo... safe sun.  Five years later, I don't walk out the door without an SPF of 30 on my face (even in the rain) and haven't stepped foot in a tanning bed.  Embracing my new self (pale) and learning to practice safe sun, I am now very thankful for that experience because who knows what could have happened.

This week, I had my first full body skin check by a dermatologist.  Getting braver with the years, I'm ready to face good or bad news and take action.  You should too.  One person dies of melanoma every hour and it can be prevented if caught early enough. With regular skin checks this doesn't have to happen.

La Roche-Posay recently launched so you can join the cause.  For each person that joins the cause, a donation is made to the Women's Dermatologic Society and Skin Cancer Foundation to help educate people on sun protection.  You can also find out information on sun safety and locate a derm near you to get your skin checked.  Do yourself a favor, be responsible about your skin.