skinny on skin

“The Skinny on Skin” 

Being someone’s hairstylist is of course riddled with benefits, but if you told me when I was in Cosmetology School that potentially saving a client’s life was one of them, I’m 99% sure I wouldn’t have believed you. However, if you tell me that today, I would 100% believe you, and the Melanoma Foundation of New England is to blame. The foundation along with the Harvard School of Public Health have teamed up to develop a program called “The Skinny on Skin.” The “S.O.S” program educates haircare professionals from across the country on how to spot suspicious lesions on clients’ skin and scalp. On average, a person will visit the Dermatologist once a year, yet they typically see a hairstylist every 6-8 weeks. Therefore, it only makes sense for stylists to be trained in detecting skin abnormalities and irregularities on the scalp.  

“Beauty Industry professionals are in a unique position to act as a line of defense for their clients. If we can use this program as a catalyst for opening the discussion about Melanoma with a client, we are doing our job as an awareness organization” Deb Girardi, Executive Director of the Melanoma Foundation of New England tells Mirabella Magazine. 

Although only 6% of all Melanomas occur on the neck and scalp, they account for approximately 10% of all Melanoma deaths. Melanoma is the second most common form of cancer among teens and young adults ages 15-29. Part of the “Skinny on Skin” training is called “Skin Selfies.” Based on the education received thru the program, stylists should be able to recognize what a “normal” skin lesion looks like vs. a suspicious growth. If there is anything unusual on the head/scalp, we as stylists should suggest that the client get it checked, and take a picture of it for them so they can document any changes that may occur.  

Melanomas that are diagnosed in the early stages have a high chance of being completely cured. Stylists are being trained to look out for marks with an irregular shape, color, or one with a changing appearance (skin selfie at every appointment to record changes!) Also, take note of any lesions that look like scars that won’t heal or are wart-like in appearance. Although a stylist is encouraged to acknowledge the presence of anything suspicious, don’t attempt to diagnose it outright. This could potentially cause unnecessary panic. 

“The Skinny on Skin has been one of our most successful and in-demand programs to date.” Deb Girard says, “Beauty Industry professionals are eager for professional development opportunities and this program fits the need.” 

The Skinny on Skin training program is partnered with Paul Mitchell, Modern Salon media, The Harvard School of Public Health, and The Patrick Dempsey Center for Cancer, Hope and Healing. So be on the lookout and be proactive about mentioning things. You never know, your client’s life could depend on it. If you spot something, say something!  

For additional information or to schedule a training seminar for your salon, visit: