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Cedars-Sinai Magazine

How to Protect Your Skin

Our dermatologist shares tips and products to shield yourself from cancer and aging

How to protect your skin.

Illustration: Caitlin Cordtz

Skin is the body’s largest organ—and the most vulnerable to damage from the elements. Living in sun-soaked Southern California makes skin protection all the more pressing. Cedars-Sinai dermatologist Allison Truong, MD, shares tips and tricks for healthy, glowing and protected skin. 

Q: What does a "good" skin-care routine look like?

A: I spend most of my day telling people "less is more." The truth is, a good skin-care routine doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated. In fact, it has only three essentials: 

  1. Gentle cleanser
  2. Broad-spectrum, ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30
  3. Moisturizer for dry skin
If you have specific skin-care concerns—such as fine lines, wrinkles, brown spots and other signs of aging—you may want to add an over-the-counter or prescription vitamin A cream to your repertoire. 

Q: How do you decide which products to choose?

A: The volume of skin-care products is overwhelming—and their claims aren’t regulated by any oversight body. Creams and serums that contain vitamin A and vitamin C may help reduce the signs of aging. But with over-the-counter formulations, you never really know what you’re getting. 

To make matters more complex, many people are allergic to common skin-care ingredients. Your best bet: Stick with a gentle cleanser and visit a dermatologist for tailored advice.

Q: Which areas of the skin are most vulnerable to skin cancer?

A: The nose is the most common spot for skin cancers to develop because it has the greatest direct exposure to the sun. While sun exposure increases the risk of developing all types of skin cancer, cancers can also appear on areas of the skin that rarely see the sun, like the soles of the feet or the genitals. In those cases, genetics may play a large role—or a virus such as human papilloma virus (HPV) may be the driver. If you notice a mole has changed in size or shape, or begins bleeding, make an appointment with a dermatologist. Even without changing moles, most California residents would benefit from an annual visit with a dermatologist