Growing up as the daughter of a dermatologist, I’ve gotten used to friends, acquaintances, and strangers alike asking me all sorts of skin care questions—from someone I was dating asking me to assess his rash to friends requesting a full review of their skin care routine. Unlike my mom, I didn’t go to medical school, so I’m completely unqualified to diagnose or treat any skin issues, of course. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t gained some secondhand knowledge from being around her.Over the years, as I’ve navigated my own skin care challenges, consulted my mom for help, and listened to her give dermatology guidance to others, there’s some advice that seems to come up over and over again. These tips are all dermatologist-approved (thanks, Mom!) and I hope you find them as helpful as I have:1. Wear sunscreen every single day—no matter what.Is it cloudy out? You still need to wear sunscreen. Do you have melanin-rich skin? You still need to wear sunscreen. Is it literally the winter solstice? You still need to wear sunscreen! Probably the biggest dermatology lesson I’ve learned from my mom is that consistently slathering on sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher is the most impactful thing you can do to protect your skin—from both health issues, like skin cancer, and cosmetic concerns caused by sun damage (like premature wrinkles and dark spots).I tend to favor chemical-based sunscreens for everyday use (I like that they absorb into my skin rather than sitting on top of it). But when I know I’ll be outside for an extended period of time, I love mineral-based formulas that create a physical barrier between my skin and those pesky rays (including Bare Republic’s zinc-based Coco Mango Mineral Spray, $15, Target).2. If you’re going to choose one active ingredient, make it retinol.There’s a reason why so many dermatologists—my mom very much included—consider retinol the gold-standard skin care ingredient: It’s been shown time and time again to make a significant difference when it comes to improving everything from acne and hyperpigmentation to fine lines to wrinkles. I started using retinol when I turned 18, and I like to think that’s the reason I still often get carded when ordering a drink.There are lots of great skin care products out there and everyone’s needs and goals are different. But if you’re looking to keep your routine simple, incorporating retinol is a move that’s generally dermatologist- and mom-approved—just know that if you have sensitive skin, you may have to be particularly cautious with retinoids, since they can be irritating. If your skin gets especially flaky or dry when you first try retinol, my mom recommends starting slow and using it every other (or every third or fourth) night, as well as applying moisturizer before your retinol product to give your skin a bit of a buffer.3. Don’t forget about your hands, neck, or ears.Many of us automatically focus our skin care routine on our faces, but areas like our necks, our ears, and the backs of our hands can also be prone to sun damage, since they’re less likely to be covered with clothing. Per my mom’s advice, I always make sure to apply sunscreen—and many of the other products I use on my face, including my retinol serum in the case of my hands and neck—to those often-neglected areas to help protect them from skin cancer and sun damage, too.4. Try not to let cuts and scrapes form a scab.Whenever I get a cut or any minor wound that I’m worried could scar, I make sure to clean it with mild soap and water, put petroleum jelly on it (I use Aquaphor, $15, Amazon), and keep it covered with a bandage, which I change at least once daily to prevent the wound from drying out. I learned from my mom that the moist environment sustained by this setup allows the skin to heal without forming a scab—making it far less likely to scar.5. If you get sunburned, try these steps to mitigate the damage.It happens to even the most fastidious of sunscreen wearers: You miss a spot, or lose track of time between reapplications, and suddenly you have a patch of skin that’s warm to the touch and maybe even feels a bit painful. This is definitely not ideal, but there are a few things you can do to minimize the damage and help your sunburn heal faster, according to my mom.
Three batches of a Banana Boat sunscreen have been voluntarily recalled because they contain trace levels of a carcinogen called benzene, according to a statement from Edgewell Personal Care, the makers of Banana Boat products. The product is called Banana Boat Hair & Scalp Sunscreen Spray SPF 30 and is packaged in an aerosol can. Benzene is a chemical created through both human activities (such as secondhand tobacco smoke and industrial emissions) and natural processes (such as forest fires), per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Cancer Institute (NCI).Benzene was detected in the product during internal testing, per Edgewell’s statement. Benzene isn’t an ingredient in the sunscreen product, and it is believed that the benzene detected during testing came from the propellant that dispels the sunscreen from its container, per the statement.The recalled products, which were distributed nationwide, were all packaged in six-ounce cans and include the following data on the label:Universal product code (UPC): 0-79656-04041-8; lot code: 20016AF; expiration: December 2022Universal product code (UPC): 0-79656-04041-8; lot code: 20084BF; expiration: February 2023Universal product code (UPC): 0-79656-04041-8; lot code: 21139AF; expiration: April 2024If you have one of the affected cans, you should stop using it and discard the product immediately, per the statement. Edgewell said it had notified retailers to remove any recalled products from shelves, and Banana Boat is offering reimbursement to people who purchased a recalled can. (You can call 1-888-686-3988 or visit this website to receive a reimbursement.)This isn’t the first time a sunscreen product has been recalled over benzene concerns; last year, several Johnson & Johnson products, including some Neutrogena and Aveeno sunscreens, were recalled after testing revealed the presence of the chemical, SELF previously reported.People can be exposed to benzene via inhalation, orally, or through the skin, and it can potentially lead to certain cancers and blood disorders, per the NCI. While exposure to the recalled products isn’t thought to be harmful, people should contact a health care provider if they experience “any problems related to using these aerosol sunscreen products,” Edgewell’s statement said.If you do experience an adverse reaction to the recalled product, you can report it to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting Program online.Related:
If you’re here because your sunburn is so severe that it turned into sunburn blisters, first of all, ouch, and we’re sorry. Come summertime, the sun is finally shining at its fullest strength. Unfortunately, brighter days also come with increased chances of overindulging in those glorious rays—whether that means frolicking outside and forgetting to regularly reapply a broad-spectrum sunscreen or, say, falling asleep on a poolside lounge chair.With enough UV damage, your burn could get to the point of skin peeling or even a blistering sunburn, which may be accompanied by other unpleasant symptoms like fever, headache, or nausea (common signs of sun poisoning—more on that shortly). But don’t panic: We’re here to share how to treat sunburn blisters and when, according to experts, you should consider seeing a doctor for a severe blistering sunburn.Plus, stay tuned for some gentle reminders of not only how to get rid of sunburn, but how to prevent UV damage for the rest of the sunny months ahead. And now, let’s talk about sunburn blisters, which make our skin hurt just thinking about them.What are sunburn blisters? | Why did my sunburn turn into blisters? | How long do sunburn blisters last? | How to treat sunburn blisters | When to see a doctor | How to prevent sunburn blistersWhat are sunburn blisters?You’re probably wondering, “Is it bad if my sunburn is blistering?” The answer is, well, kind of. “Blistering is a sign of severe sunburn. UV light damages the skin surface, and if you have enough damage, a liquid called serum leaks to the surface of the skin,” Allison Larson, MD, board-certified dermatologist and chair of dermatology for MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, tells SELF. Those pockets of fluid form what you see as sunburn blisters.So, exactly what is the fluid in a burn blister? Serum (not to be confused with skin-care serum) is a combination of water, proteins, and electrolytes (similar to blood plasma) that comes from skin tissue, Dr. Larson explains. Much of that leakage is from blood vessels that have been damaged from the UV radiation as well, she adds.Back to topWhy did my sunburn turn into blisters?Sunburn blisters can occur anywhere on the body since any exposed surfaces of the skin have the potential (if exposed to the sun for a long enough period) to have severe enough sun damage to cause blistering, explains Dr. Larson. You can even get severe sunburn on your lips. That might manifest itself as blistered sunburned lips, but a lot of sun exposure can also trigger a reactivation of the virus that causes cold sores—herpes simplex virus (HSV)—which can add to the blistering on the lips, Dr. Larson adds.1It’s more likely that lighter skin will burn and blister than darker skin, board-certified dermatologist Corey L. Hartman, MD, founder of Skin Wellness Dermatology in Birmingham, Alabama, and assistant clinical professor of dermatology at the University of Alabama School of Medicine, tells SELF. That’s because there’s more melanin (pigment) in darker skin which can help protect against some UV damage. But it’s possible that in extreme cases of sunburn, someone with melanin-rich skin can experience sunburn blisters from severe sun damage, according to Dr. Hartman.Back to topHow long do sunburn blisters last?Sunburn in general can last just a few days or longer than a week, depending on how bad the UV damage was and how deep it penetrated into the skin. If it’s more surface-level damage, it’ll fade quicker. But in the case of sunburn blisters, you’re likely dealing with deeper damage that’s farther from the dermis (the surface level of the skin), which can last longer, Dr. Larson says. In other words, you can expect your sunburn blisters to last for a week or more.Severe sunburn might also lead to patchy discoloration from the raw, blistered skin that appears as part of the healing process—and that could take months to even years to improve, according to Dr. Larson. And while people with deeper skin tones have more melanin to protect them from sun damage, they’re more prone to hyperpigmentation and discoloration, even with less severe cases of sunburn, she adds.
These more severe symptoms usually show up a few hours after sun overexposure, but it could take a day or longer to know just how bad your burn is, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. A few days after the burn, the top layer of skin may peel off (this is your body’s attempt to heal itself with its own natural “bandage”), and the layer below may have an unusual color and pattern for several days.Back to topHow long does sunburn last?Well, every sunburn is different, but bad sunburns can take several days or even closer to a week to heal, the Mayo Clinic says. And do sunburns always turn into a tan? Not necessarily.Some sunburns will fade into a tan if you naturally have built up some melanin, a pigment that, again, increases with stimulation from UV in your skin. Having said that, you should *never* actively try to get that “first burn” of the season and then allow it to fade to a tan because that still damages your skin, Dr. Chon advises). If you have a decent amount of melanin to begin with, it’ll partially block the UV rays and create a slightly deeper skin coloring, or suntan, instead of sunburn. But, if you have very light skin and essentially have no melanin to protect you, you don’t have enough to get tan either, adds Dr. Chon.Back to topHow to treat sunburnUnfortunately, there’s nothing you can do to magically make your sunburn disappear, but you can treat sunburn with tactics that might ease both any redness and your suffering.Once you realize you’ve been burned, it’s important to get out of the sun and treat the burn as soon as you can, the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) explains. Try a few (or all) of these tips to help:Take cool baths or showers.The tenderness and possible redness of the sunburn (again, depending on your skin tone, you may not notice a pink or red hue) is the physical manifestation of sun damage, your skin’s response to getting injured, says Dr. Chon. So naturally, you’ll want to cool it down as much as possible to tame the inflammation. Hot water can irritate your (already aggravated) skin, but standing under a cool shower stream can help soothe inflammation, Gary Goldenberg, MD, assistant clinical professor of dermatology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital, tells SELF. If you can submerge yourself in a cool bath, even better.As soon as you get out of the tub or shower, gently pat yourself dry. Leave a little moisture on your skin, then apply a moisturizer, the AAD advises. This helps trap the water on your skin and can reduce dryness that would exacerbate your irritation.If you don’t have time to hang in the shower or bath, try placing a cool, damp towel on your skin for relief, Dr. Goldenberg says, and then follow it up with moisturizer. Once you’re done with your shower or bath, wear lightweight and loose clothing, rather than anything itchy or heavy, to avoid additional friction on your already uncomfortable bad sunburn, adds Dr. Chon.Use a moisturizer with aloe vera, soy, or calamine. If that’s not enough, try a hydrocortisone cream.There seem to be a few go-to staples in terms of what to put on a sunburn. People often champion aloe vera for its skin-soothing effects, and its anti-inflammatory properties (thanks to a compound called aloin) can indeed help with the irritation of a sunburn, say experts at the Mayo Clinic and the AAD. Soy, found in skin-care products like moisturizers and after-sun lotions (look for soybean oil or extract on the label), might be a more surprising ingredient for sunburn aftercare, but it could allow your skin to trap more moisturizing water, according to research published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences.¹ You might also want to apply calamine lotion, according to the Mayo Clinic, which can help with itching and discomfort. And if you’re really having a rough time with tons of itchiness, you can use a 1% over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream, Dr. Chon says.
If you’re curious about how to remove skin tags at home, or more importantly, how to cut off skin tags painlessly, you’re not alone. As many as 60% of adults will develop one of the harmless little skin growths in their lifetime.¹ Translation: You’re more likely than not to end up with one of these suckers somewhere on your body—common locations include your neck, armpits, groin, or under-boob area. The proper (Latin) name for a skin tag is an acrochordon, if you want to sound really fancy when you bring it up to your doctor (which you should in some cases—more on that later).OK, now that we’ve geeked out on medical terminology, let’s get to the juicy stuff: All of your burning skin tag removal questions, answered by top-notch skin doctors. (Because the fact that skin tags are totally normal doesn’t make them any less annoying.)What causes skin tags? | Why am I suddenly getting skin tags? | How can I prevent skin tags? | Can I remove skin tags at home? | How do doctors do skin tag removal? | Can skin tags be cancerous?What causes skin tags, exactly?“Skin tags are fleshy overgrowths of skin that typically develop along the neck, groin, and the underarms,” Joshua Zeichner, MD, director of cosmetic and clinical research at the Mount Sinai Department of Dermatology in New York City, tells SELF. Like warts, they grow out of your skin on a stalk and contain their own blood supply but little innervation (ie. nerve supply), Sarmela Sunder, MD, a double-board-certified facial plastic reconstructive surgeon in Beverly Hills, tells SELF. And they can come in a variety of shapes and sizes. The shapes: beady or fingerlike projections and even soft, bag-like fibromas. The sizes: anywhere from 1 to 5 millimeters, though skin tags as long as 12.7 millimeters have been recorded.² While experts concur that there is no one determinable cause of skin tags, there is evidence that skin tag formation is linked to a number of factors, including friction from skin-on-skin rubbing or tight clothing, genetic tendencies, and certain health conditions, Dr. Sunder says. High blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and high cholesterol, for example, are all correlated with the presence of skin tags.³Back to topWhy am I suddenly getting skin tags?There’s no direct connection between age and skin tags, Tracy Evans, MD, MPH, board-certified dermatologist and medical director of Pacific Skin and Cosmetic Dermatology in San Francisco, tells SELF. But many conditions that correlate with (not cause!) skin tag formation are likelier to develop in adulthood than in childhood. Research suggests that skin tags can appear as early as your teen years, but are most likely to show up after you turn 40 (and that likelihood levels off again after age 70—who knew?).¹ Regardless of your age, if you notice you’re getting a whole crop of skin tags, schedule an appointment with an MD, especially if you’re experiencing other symptoms that aren’t typical for you: “There are situations where a significant number of skin tags can signal an underlying condition or syndrome, such as certain autoimmune conditions like Crohn’s disease, certain polyp-causing gastrointestinal syndromes, or a growth-related syndrome known as acromegaly,” Dr. Sunder says. “Having a skin tag doesn’t mean that you will have one of these diseases, and having one of these conditions doesn’t mean you will get skin tags, but we sometimes see an overlap in both.”Back to topCan I learn how to prevent skin tags?Unfortunately, this is one skin condition that you can’t fix with a dedicated skin-care regimen. “There’s nothing you can really do to prevent skin tags,” Dr. Evans says. Although she adds that reducing the amount of friction your skin endures in areas like the underarms and neck (avoiding tight clothes, cushioning belts, or straps that frequently rub in one area, or using an anti-chafing balm) could help. Working with your doctor to get correlated health conditions, if you have one, under control may also help to prevent skin tags, although it’s not guaranteed.
For an entire decade, 25-year-old Maria Sylvia considered the unique-looking brown line on her fingernail to simply be a “cool streak.” The brown line, running vertically down her right thumbnail, just seemed like her own little quirk. The line first surfaced in high school, when Sylvia was participating in a lot of sports, so she assumed it was just a blood blister or bruise sustained when she was playing, as per TODAY. But after a coworker encouraged her to have it checked out by a dermatologist, the Virginia-based analyst discovered the brown line on her fingernail was more than just a streak–it was cancer. Sylvia has shared her story in a series of TikTok videos, which have amassed more than 4 million likes. When Sylvia went to see a dermatologist in January this year, she said he initially didn’t think it was anything to be concerned about. But Sylvia said she insisted on having a biopsy done. “You really have to be your advocate here and say, ‘No, no, I’d really like to get a biopsy just to be sure,'” she told Good Morning America. After the biopsy, Sylvia soon learned that doctors had found a melanoma. “When he told me that, you know, ‘Oh, we found melanoma, you know, my heart dropped,'” Sylvia told Good Morning America. “He was rattling off phone numbers that I had to call and I’m still like grasping that I just found out that I had cancer.”It turned out that she had a type of melanoma known as subungual melanoma. Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that develops from the melanocytes, the skin’s pigment-producing cells. It can grow rapidly and spread to any organ in the body. Subungual melanoma affects the fingernails and toenails; most instances of subungual melanoma involve the large toe or thumb, according to the Cleveland Clinic. It usually looks like black-brown discoloration on a nail, which can either be a streak, as in Sylvia’s case, or more irregular discoloration. Subungual melanoma is extremely uncommon and makes up between 0.7% to 3.5% of all melanomas worldwide, usually affecting people aged 50-70 years old or those who are of African, Japanese, Chinese, and Native American heritage, although it can occur in anyone. It does not appear to be caused by sun exposure, but researchers suggest it is due to increased levels of melanin production in the melanocytes. The best way to treat subungual melanoma is with early diagnosis. While nail discoloration is common and this type of melanoma is pretty rare, if you are concerned, inspect your nails for pigmented marks and talk to your doctor or dermatologist. After her biopsy and follow-up appointments, Sylvia learned that the cancer had not spread, but she needed to have two operations to have the nail removed and skin grafted onto her finger. Sylvia’s case is similar to another case in 2021, when a woman in the United Kingdom learned that a similar line on her nail—which she concealed for years with red nail polish—turned out to be a melanoma. Sylvia says she has shared her story on TikTok in the hope that other people who might have a similar mark on their nails might have it examined by a medical professional before it’s too late. You can watch Sylvia’s series of TikTok videos about her discovery and recovery process here. Related:
Most of us know that the sun’s mood-brightening UV rays have a dark side: Unprotected exposure can lead to sunburn, premature skin aging, skin cancer, and “sun poisoning”—which generally refers to feeling sick after too much time soaking in the sun.What is sun poisoning, exactly? It’s a term you may have heard at some point in your life—maybe your mom or dad (correctly!) told you to “Put on sunscreen so you don’t get sun poisoning!”—but if you’re still not entirely sure what it is, don’t worry, you’re not alone. That’s because sun poisoning is not an official medical term or diagnosis; rather it’s a colloquial phrase that patients and doctors have defined by consensus more than anything else. (As a result, not every expert agrees on its definition.)The most common “unofficial” interpretation of sun poisoning is that it “describes feeling physically unwell from a severe sunburn,” board-certified dermatologist Tsipporah Shainhouse, MD, founder of SkinSafe Dermatology and Skin Care in Beverly Hills tells SELF.Read on for expert advice on how to recognize, treat, and prevent sun poisoning (or a regular sunburn, for that matter).Symptoms of sun poisoning | What causes sun poisoning? | Sun poisoning vs. sunburn | How does a sunburn turn into sun poisoning? | When to see a doctor | Sun poisoning treatment at home | Can the sun make you sick without sunburn? | Sun poisoning preventionFirst, what are the symptoms of sun poisoning?“Sun poisoning often feels like the flu or even an allergic reaction,” Dr. Shainhouse explains. Symptoms of sun poisoning—which can last for a day or more, depending on how quickly you treat them—vary widely depending on the severity of the sunburn, but can include the following:HeadacheFeverNausea and vomitingLethargyDizzinessBody achesDehydrationBack to topWhat causes sun poisoning?“Sun poisoning primarily happens from being out in the sun too long without proper protection, so you end up with a really severe sunburn,” Apple Bodemer, MD, associate professor of dermatology in the school of medicine and public health at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, tells SELF. “Probably the most common way that it occurs is when people who haven’t been in the sun a lot go for that winter break beach vacation and forget to cover up or apply enough sunscreen on their first day out.” If the sun is intense, one day can be all it takes, she says.“Also, there are certain medications—like Accutane which we prescribe for treating acne, certain antibiotics, and topicals like Retin-A—that are photosensitizing, meaning that they make you much more sensitive to the sun,” says Dr. Bodemer. “Hopefully, a doctor will have warned you of that when prescribing, but if someone isn’t aware of it, they can end up with severe burns much faster than they would normally.”Back to topHow do you know if you have sun poisoning vs. sunburn?You’ve likely experienced a mild sunburn at some point in your life: Your skin turns tender, warm, and perhaps red (depending on your skin tone) on areas of the body that weren’t covered by either sunscreen or a physical block (like a hat or beach umbrella). Severe sunburn is associated with localized skin swelling, pain, and sunburn blisters, says Dr. Shainhouse.What are the signs of sun poisoning, though? Generally speaking, a severe sunburn tips over to sun poisoning when the symptoms you are experiencing also include headache, nausea, chills, fever, dizziness, lethargy, and/or weakness, says Dr. Bodemer.Back to topHow does a bad sunburn turn into sun poisoning?A sunburn turns into sun poisoning when the shock of the burn triggers an intense immune system response in your body that results in the symptoms described above. “A burn is like an injury to your skin. Your body reacts to that by releasing pro-inflammatory cytokines (proteins produced by cells) that trigger systemic symptoms like headache and nausea—essentially, that feeling of being unwell,” board-certified dermatologist Alicia Barba, MD, founder of Miami’s Barba Dermatology and Skin Clinic and a principal investigator with International Dermatology Research, tells SELF.¹ The UV radiation that causes the burning of your skin is also causing cellular damage, adds Dr. Bodemer, and when you have that much injury, your body goes into overdrive (thanks to that inflammatory response we’ve been talking about) trying to repair it.
Intentional tanning may give your skin that sought-after glow, but frequent tanning can also cause skin damage. The best self-tanner for you will not only reduce your risk of skin cancer and premature signs of aging from sun damage, but is also boosted with skin-loving ingredients for a healthy glow.So if you still want to get that classic summer tan while avoiding the skin damage that comes with actual tanning, using a self-tanner is the way to go, especially in the much-needed winter months. But it takes a little courage, some practice, and the right self-tanning product to get the bronze glow that feels right on your skin.How do you use a self-tanner?If you’re a beginner, and you’re trying to master the perfect natural tan, definitely try something that will gradually build color. This way you can stop when you’re comfortable with your shade. Also, be sure to gently exfoliate your body the night before applying your tanner for the smoothest application process possible. And if you can, apply your product with an applicator mitt rather than your bare hands, which will give you a more even application and keep you from accidentally tanning the palms of your hands.But if you’re a little more experienced with self-tanners, you may be ready for a product that provides instant color, a glow that develops within just a few hours, or a shade that will last for days or weeks without needing to be reapplied. Whatever you choose, know that a self-tanner mistake is relatively easy to undo: You can wait it out while the tan fades or help it along with a soak in a bath.Ready to get golden? Check out the options below, all of which are some of the best self-tanners out there. These are top-rated based on customer reviews.All products featured on SELF are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.