Why Australian Dermatologists Turn to Beauty Professionals to Detect Skin Cancer

There's an obvious answer.

Take a second to think about who knows your body best. Sure, your doctor, but what about your hair dresser? Your tattoo artist? Manicurist? Turns out, next to you and your physician (and maybe a significant other), your go-to beauty professionals are likely most familiar with your skin. In Queensland, Australia, dermatologists and beauty pros are banding together to fight skin cancer.

In a recent interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), Far North Queensland medical director Vin Rajeswaran, M.D. says Queensland has some of the highest rates of skin cancer per capita in the world, yet few people are diligent about scheduling regular skin checks. As an effort to promote early cancer detection, doctors like Dr. Rajeswaran have begun encouraging beauticians to pay close attention to changes in their clients' skin. "Everyone goes to see a hairdresser, tattoos are also becoming more common, and what we want to say with the tattoo artist is 'please don't put a tattoo over that mole'—send these people to us," Dr. Rajeswaran tells ABC.

Unlike regular check-ups, beauty appointments—manicures, blowouts, even spray-tans—also occur on a much more regular basis than visits to the doctor, making them prime times to get a close look at the exposed areas that they're handling. Within a few short weeks of educating beauty professionals on spotting signs of skin cancer, Dr. Rajeswaran says three referrals from these first respondents had to be treated for advanced stages of melanoma.

With Dr. Rajeswaran finding success in this new partnership with Australia's beauty professionals, perhaps stateside dermatologists should follow suit. Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the U.S. and claims the life of at least one American almost every hour, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Booking an appointment with your glam squad this week? Don't be shy to ask if they notice any changes in your skin. And don't forget to practice your own monthly skin checks at home. Here's how.