Many younger women mentally mark dermatologist visits as being for emergencies only—a monstrous zit, a misshapen mole. Yet the evolving state of our skin demands more of a maintenance mind-set. In fact, most experts call for regular visits from age 25 on.
“The mid-20s is a good age,” says New York dermatologist Patricia Wexler, M.D., pointing toward the wear and tear that has occurred by then—the increasing number of moles, sun damage, and so on, which are best caught early to protect and repair. “It is common to think that we are only seen for emergencies, but we know that proactively keeping better skin helps avoid those emergencies.” Here, four reasons a trip to the dermatologist might be in order—whether you need a last-minute skin savior or not.
Screen for Skin Cancer
Obviously a full exam for skin cancer should be performed, Wexler says, citing early-forming lesions like actinic keratoses, which can lead to squamous cell carcinomas. “Skin cancer is the number one cancer in women 25 to 29, and the second most common after breast cancer in the 30s,” Wexler adds. All the more reason to stay on top of it.
Repair Dull, Spotty Skin
Instead of learning to live with a lackluster complexion—the irregular pigmentation and dullness that come with sun damage—a trip to the derm can provide simple ways to brighten and tone at home, along with a supercharged in-office treatment. “We can address with topical products such as retinol, hydroquinone, vitamin-C serums, and peptides,” Wexler says. “If extreme damage occurs, fractional resurfacing can be discussed, too.”
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Fight Breakouts and Minimize Pores
Frequent acne and growing pore size are a concern for all ages—but especially for 20- and 30-somethings dealing with hormonal changes. Derms have a small arsenal of multitasking weapons at their disposal—salicylic and glycolic acids, topical antibiotics, acid peels, microbrasions, and even fractional resurfacing. “For better texture and tone to the skin, plus diminished pore size and pigmentation,” Wexler says.
Find an All-Around Skin Counselor
The world of skin care can be tough to navigate, even for those in the field, with the constant stream of product and technological innovations. “Women are often confused about how to maintain their skin and protect it against photoaging—the products [and treatments] can be too numerous to understand,” Wexler explains. Developing an easy rapport with your derm early on can save you countless hours of research and transform your complexion—a beauty no-brainer.
This story originally appeared on Vogue.
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