Elizabeth Hale MD

Elizabeth K. Hale, MD is a Board Certified Dermatologist and a Clinical Associate Professor of Dermatology at the New York University School of Medicine, where she received the Surgical Attending of the Year Award. She is also the Vice President of the Skin Cancer Foundation. As a widely respected dermatologist, Dr. Hale is frequently sought out and extensively quoted by national broadcast, print and online publications.


We hate to behave like that annoying frenemy who always seems to be finding something more you could be doing, but it’s true: just using sunscreen isn’t enough. You should also get a skin cancer screening every year.

We’ve also anticipated your rebuttal-like questions — “But can’t I just check myself for moles?” and “But I don’t have a dermatologist, so what can I do?” — and recently asked them of our favorite expert in all matters related to the sun: Elizabeth Hale, MD, celebrated dermatologist and Vice President of the Skin Cancer Foundation. Check out our brief Q&A with her about skin cancer screening below. She also includes a tidbit about how plankton can help save your skin. (See, now you absolutely have to read it.)


Ayla: How often do you suggest getting checked for skin cancer?
DR. HALE: I recommend that every adult have an annual skin check. But if you have specific risk factors like a personal or family history of skin cancer, atypical moles, light-colored hair and eyes, a history of sunburns, or you use tanning beds, I suggest that you get a scan every six months.

Ayla: Can you do self-checks, or should you visit a dermatologist?
DR. HALE: You can do self-checks in addition to those visits; it’s a good idea to be familiar with your moles and your lesions. But it’s important to see a dermatologist at least annually for a screening. Skin cancer is currently the most common form of cancer in the US; it’s preventable, but it’s also curable when caught early. There is a clear role for screening and early detection where skin cancer is concerned, more so than almost any other cancer: with other forms of cancer, oftentimes by the time they present, it’s almost too late for treatment. And dermatologists are getting even better at diagnosing skin cancer early. Since we use dermatoscopes to look at moles now, we can detect changes earlier than ever.

Ayla: How do you suggest finding a good dermatologist for a skin cancer screening?
DR. HALE: Most dermatologists perform skin cancer screenings. It’s probably the most common denominator among dermatologists, regardless of specialty, because they’ve all been rigorously trained in it. You can visit the AAD website (aad.org) to find a doctor, and if you want someone who specializes in skin cancer, go to skincancer.org or ASDS.net.

Ayla: So we will all wear sunscreen daily and get screened for skin cancer at least annually! And are there any ingredients that you suggest looking for in a topical product, aside from sunscreens, to address sun damage?
DR. HALE: DNA repair enzymes are the most exciting new development, in my opinion, from an anti-aging and skin cancer perspective. Just as our skin’s ability to fight free radicals gets depleted throughout the day due to sun exposure, pollution, and other factors, so do our DNA repair enzymes. There’s good data to support the efficacy of endonucleases and photolyases (derived from plankton) in skincare products.



Note from Ayla: Dermatologist Macrene Alexiades, MD loaded up her 37 Actives line with DNA repair enzymes. Look for them in 37 Extreme Actives and 37 Extreme Actives Extra Rich.

About Dr. Hale: Liz is a Board Certified Dermatologist and a Clinical Associate Professor of Dermatology at the New York University Langone Medical Center, where she received the Surgical Attending of the Year Award in 2008. She specializes in Mohs micrographic surgery, cosmetic dermatology, and laser surgery. Dr. Hale has extensive experience in the field of skin cancer and is a vice president of The Skin Cancer Foundation. A widely respected dermatologist, Dr. Hale has received an astounding number of awards and honors. Learn more about her impressive background — and her brand new, state-of-the-art dermatology, laser and skin surgery practice on the Upper East Side of Manhattan — here.

Any topic discussed in this article is not intended as medical advice. If you have a medical concern, please check with your doctor.