There’s a Supplement That Prevents Sun Damage—and 7 Other Mind-Blowing Advances in Dermatology

Top dermatologists gathered at the Women's Dermatologic Society Media Day recently to discuss breakthroughs in the skin care industry. Here, the eight things that shocked the heck out of us—and how these innovations could boost your complexion.

There’s a supplement that prevents sun damage

Fern is now your BFF (or at least when it comes to helping your skin protect itself). Polypodium leucotomos found in Heliocare, a daily supplement, is an extract from a tropical fern plant grown in Central and South America that can thwart damage caused by ultraviolet radiation from the sun. “Heliocare is considered safe,” says Nada Elbulk, MD, MSC, FAAD, a board-certified dermatologist, “but prior to taking it, you should check with their board-certified dermatologist to make sure it won’t interact with any other medications you may be taking,” she adds. Double up on sun protection using this cheat sheet to the best sunscreens for every activity.

Skip the SPF and risk worsening hyperpigmentation

It’s a common myth that foregoing SPF has no effect on skin discoloration. Not so, says experts who urge sunscreen use always, but especially for patients with the condition that makes skin appear darker. Says Dr. Elbulk, “the ultraviolet, visible, and infrared light from the sun can stimulate melanocytes, skin cells that create pigment called melanin, to make more melanin which is what leads to hyperpigmentation.” Sufferers should always use a broad spectrum SPF 30+, or a physical sunblocker containing zinc, titanium, or iron oxide. Find out the best ways to get rid of brown spots.

Women with hair loss can color their strands

hair-dyeAlex Oakenman/ShutterstockThough it’s tempting to take a minimalist approach to hair care when dealing with excessive shedding and thinning, you can absolutely get a dye job. “Washing, styling, and coloring hair do not worsen female pattern hair loss,” explains Shari Lipner, MD, Ph.D, Women’s Dermatologic Society member. “However, both styling and coloring may lead to hair breakage thus giving the appearance that the hair is less dense,” she cautions. Still want to swap shades? Permanent hair dyes are generally the most effective, give a natural look, and last longest. “Since some people develop an allergic dermatitis to hair dyes if you get a rash after dying your hair, it’s important to see a board-certified dermatologist to determine the cause,” says Dr. Lipner. Find out the most common causes of hair loss.

The American Academy of Dermatology has a podcast

You’re already plugged in 24/7, why not rotate in the sounds of skin-friendly radio? AAD Dialogues in Dermatology is the official podcast of the American Academy of Dermatology; topics range from advancements in psoriasis to the management of Zika Virus. “My task is to choose topics that are both current in terms of breaking science—and in terms of events in the world around us—that will also satisfy the requirements of continuing medical education for our member dermatologists to maintain their board certification,” says Shadi Kourosh, MD, Chair of the Communications Council for Women’s Dermatologic Society and editor-in-chief of the podcast.

Alternative medicine is all anyone can talk about

During the Q&A portion of the day, one topic kept coming up: alternative therapies. No surprise there considering edible beauty, for example, seems to be all the rage. And while experts in attendance agreed that there isn’t enough research on ingestible beauty (yet) having a healthy diet is the foundation for improving any skin concern.

An impressive new acne medication may be coming to the U.S.

LaserAndrey Popov/ShutterstockAcne is big business. With $2 billion spent yearly trying to clear the pesky condition, it’s no surprise that there’s a new in-office treatment on the horizon. Sebacia uses gold-coated silicon microparticles, coupled with a laser, to obliterate acne-causing structures. And trials coming out of Europe show a 50 percent reduction in eruptions just four months after use. “Based on those European trials, this treatment seems to be safe for anyone with acne with a few exceptions,” says Kachiu Lee, MD, who specializes in general and cosmetic dermatology. “However, the wavelength of light that the laser uses to activate Sebacia particles may not be safe for skin of color as it could potentially cause hyperpigmentation,” she adds. While there’s no ETA for its touchdown in the United States, you can keep an eye on the brand’s website for updates. In the meantime, try these proven acne treatments.

At-home treatments actually work, but there’s a catch

You know those at-home beauty masks that can double as a Darth Vader Halloween costume? Those actually work, according to WDS pros. In one randomized controlled study, an at-home acne laser apparatus yielded a 50 percent reduction in inflammatory lesions vs 2 percent increase in the control group after 12 weeks. “Many at-home skin care treatments are easy to do, can serve as an effective adjunct treatment to in-office treatments by a board-certified dermatologist, spare sensitive individuals embarrassment as the procedure can be done in the privacy of their home, and they are relatively inexpensive,” says Susan C. Taylor, MD, Women’s Dermatologic Society Media Relations Committee Chair. Bottom line: If you’re going to try these DIY version, be consistent and commit to the long haul for best results.

You don’t need an Rx to treat hyperpigmentation

Depending on the degree of skin discoloration, OTC options may do the job to lighten these patches, we learned. Ingredients including vitamin C, soy, and licorice, found in skin care products, can break down brown spots that have appeared due to an increase in melanin. Rebat M. Halder, MD, FAAD, professor and chair in the department of dermatology at Howard University College of Medicine in Washington, D.C. (who was not at the media day), notes in an AAD news release that studies have shown soy’s effectiveness as a skin lightening ingredient and its ability to suppress additional pigment from coming to the surface of the skin.

Popular Videos

Alexis Farah
Alexis is a freelance lifestyle writer whose work has appeared in,,, Women's Health magazine and She's the founder and editor of, a website dedicated to covering beauty products, brands and influencers that give back. Before becoming a freelance writer, Alexis was on the team as the Senior Beauty Editor. She started her professional career in the beauty department at Women's Health Magazine and learned social networking 101 at Attention, a social media PR and marketing agency. It's rare to catch Alexis without SPF 30+ or bright red lipstick.