Your Skin From A to Z

26 things you need to know about your body's largest organ

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A

“All-Natural”
You might think a product with this phrase on its label is super healthy, but it may not be. Marketing terms such as “all-natural” and “for sensitive skin” are not regulated by the FDA, so labels and advertising can be confusing—or even misleading. Before applying a new product all over your face or body, test a small amount on your forearm for one week.

B

Brightening
You can get glowing skin with cosmeceuticals that contain retinol and peptides (antioxidants that even out skin tone), alpha-hydroxy acids (which may reduce fine lines) or beta-hydroxy acids (which remove dead skin). 

C

Cosmetic surgery
Going under the knife grows more popular year after year. The latest trend: taking fat from the abdomen to enhance other areas, including the breasts (procedures have skyrocketed by 72% since 2016) and buttocks (up 26% over the same period). 

D

DIY masks
You deserve a little homemade TLC. Hydrate with this face mask: Stir together ½ ripe avocado,  1 tsp olive oil, 1 tsp coconut cream and 1 tsp honey until it forms a paste. Apply to face and rinse off with warm water after 15 minutes.

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E

Even out skin of color
Lighten dark spots—or even slow down melanin production—by applying a skin care product with at least one of the following ingredients: azelaic acid, glycolic acid, kojic acid, a retinoid (such as adapalene gel, retinol, tretinoin or tazarotene), 2% hydroquinone or vitamin C.

F

Five years 
That’s how long a semi-permanent filler can keep smile lines at bay.

G

Go find a derm you love 
At the American Academy of Dermatology’s website, input your zip code and click on “Find a Dermatologist” for a listing of AAD skin doctors and specialists.

H

Hair loss
Your hairstyle could be the culprit. A few healthy tips: Nix “long-lasting hold” products (which may lead to breakage), limit flat iron use to every other day (excessive heat can damage hair) and refrain from continuously sporting braids, ponytails, and hair extensions (which pull on the hair and can lead to permanent hair loss).

I

Indoor tanning
Nearly 264,000 cases of skin cancer were caused by indoor tanning devices (beds, booths or sunlamps) in 2015. And still 30 million Americans slide into tanning beds at least once a year.

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J

Just do it—skin checks 
It’s time to examine your partner—as well as yourself—for suspicious marks, such as irregular moles, says the 2017 SPOT Skin Cancer campaign, which was launched by the AAD. Single ladies: Don’t forget to perfectly angle that mirror for a rear view.

K

Keratosis pilaris
It’s just a long name for a harmless skin condition that appears on the upper arms or thighs as clusters of tiny dry bumps that people often mistake for goosebumps or pimples. They’re actually plugs of dead skin cells, and applying a moisturizing cream that contains either urea or lactic acid should minimize them.

L

Lip enhancement 
Doctors now have an updated guideline when it comes to creating perfect pouts. The lips deemed most beautiful—when nearly 430 men and women surveyed were shown varying images of Caucasian women—had a 1:2 ratio of upper to lower lip. The results were published in JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery.

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M

Moles
The average adult has between 10 and 40 moles. Yet a new survey revealed that only 1 out of 2 people have ever consulted with their dermatologist for a mole screening. No time like today to make that appointment.

N

Non-invasive skin cancer test 
Bye-bye biopsies. International researchers have created an imaging technique that employs a laser-based microscope to help physicians identify melanomas and basal cell carcinomas within minutes. It’s both fast and precise.

O

Options for stretch marks 
Talk to your doctor about microdermabrasion, light and laser therapies or retinoid creams, all of which may help improve the appearance and texture of these (sort-of) scars.

P

Psoriasis
Unfortunately, red scaly skin isn’t the only thing sufferers of this autoimmune disease need to be concerned about. Researchers have linked the condition, which affects more than 6 million Americans, to an increased risk of other ailments, including heart disease, diabetes and even celiac disease. Work with your MD to try to reduce your risk. 

Q

Quick lesson on cellulite
While there’s no proven solution for cellulite, dermatologists have found potential benefits from acoustic wave therapy, which uses sound waves emitted from a handheld device (operated by a dermatologist or spa professional) to break up fat deposits. 

R

Rosacea 
A whopping 82% of the 16 million Americans with rosacea—which causes redness and bumps on the neck and face—are currently untreated. While exact triggers are unknown, new research shows that drinking alcohol can increase a woman’s risk for the disease.

S

Sunscreen 
Even when sunscreen is handed out for free, only 33% of people apply it properly. A good guide: Most adults need at least an ounce of sunscreen—or enough to fill a shot glass—to cover any exposed skin. Don’t forget to reapply, generally every two hours, after sweating or swimming.

T

Topical curcumin gel 
The main ingredient in turmeric does more than give the spice its color. Clinical experts at UCLA discovered that applying curcumin gel directly on the skin soon after a burn can lessen pain and inflammation, reduce the severity of the injury and improve healing with little to no scarring.

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U

UV nail lamps
Gel manicures may last longer, but there’s a possible downside—damage to your skin’s DNA from the ultraviolet (UV) lamps. The safer option is to try one of the healthier gel manicure alternatives (which fall between regular polish and gel polish), such as Sally Hansen Miracle Gel ($10) and Deborah Lippmann Gel Lab Pro ($20).

V

Vitiligo
Although clinical trials haven’t yet taken place, researchers are hopeful that a class of drugs named Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitors may be effective in treating vitiligo, which causes skin to lose its color. One thing in these medications’ favor: They’ve already been approved for bone disorders. 

W

Wrinkles
Could the fountain of youth actually be found in tomato sauce? Perhaps. Consumption of lycopene, a key nutrient in tomatoes, has been shown to block harmful UV rays by building up the skin’s defenses. Researchers believe it may also protect skin from wrinkles.

X

eXtra dry skin
There’s promising news for those who suffer from moderate to severe eczema. An experimental drug (nemolizumab, given in the form of an injection) reduces the itching that accompanies this disorder by up to 63%.

Y

Yeast Infections
“Down there” isn’t the only place these occur. When the fungus grows on skin folds or your navel, for example, it may look like a red rash. If it appears on the corner of your mouth, it will leave behind tiny cracks or cuts. Talk to your doctor about topical and oral treatments.

Z

Zits 
New evidence points to one type of food that can aggravate acne: non-organic dairy products. The cows that are the source of these products are usually treated with growth hormones—and it’s already been established that hormonal changes in the body can stimulate excess oil production, resulting in clogged pores and breakouts.