A good hairstylist is like an old friend you meet weekly for chat sessions to gossip and share information. But your stylist is more than a confidante—she or he could be the first to spot the signs of skin cancer, according to a study published in the Archives of Dermatology and reported by USA Today.

For the study, researchers reviewed surveys completed by 203 professional hairdressers from 17 salons in the Houston area. Hairdressers were asked how often they looked for abnormal moles on the head, neck and face of their customers.

Researchers found that in the previous month about 37 percent of the hairdressers said they had looked at the scalps of half their customers; about 29 percent had examined the necks of half their clients; and about 15 percent had checked the faces of more than 50 percent of their customers. What’s more, 58 percent of hairdressers said they had recommended at least one client see a dermatologist.

“Hairdressers and barbers can potentially play a key role in detection of early melanoma if they are trained on how to look at the skin for atypical moles and lesions while they are taking care of their customer’s hair,” said Alan C. Geller, MPH, RN, a senior lecturer at Harvard School of Public Health, and the study’s lead researcher.

About 6 percent of melanomas, the deadliest type of skin cancer, are found on the scalp and neck. But when detected early—with a hairdressers help, perhaps?—they are the most treatable.

Another health professional supported hairdressers playing a role in helping customers stay healthy. He said that although doctors didn’t want hairdressers to diagnose skin cancer; they did want these beauty professionals to check their clients’ scalps and skin behind the ears and neck to inform them of any suspicious lesions. This way, customers could go to their doctors as soon as possible.

Certainly, many hairstylists wouldn’t mind joining their customers’ health care team. In fact, 69 percent of hairdressers surveyed said they were “somewhat” or “very likely” to give customers a pamphlet on skin cancer, and about half said they were “very” or “extremely” interested in taking part in a skin cancer education program.

And skin cancer check-ups aren’t the only health benefit beauty shops can provide. Hairdressers can also make customers more aware of their health in general. Click here to read more.