Unlike some employers, skin cancer does not discriminate based on age. We are all at risk. I hate to get morbid to get my point across, but I just lost a family friend to skin cancer. She was only 32 and she was the mother of four children. It was tragic and completely unexpected.
Skin cancer victimizes people of all ages, so please protect your skin. No one is immune and there is no excuse. In the time it takes to update your mob in Mafia Wars (or whatever you do in that game), you can slather on some sunscreen (or have a cute boy help you) and start your day.
It scares me that so many people list their favorite hobbies as ‘getting sun’ or ‘tanning’. Keep that up and down the road your hobbies may be ‘mole removal’ and ‘chemo’.
I know, tanning is seductive. We’ve all been there, laying in the sweltering heat for hours, lathered in oil and rotating at intervals, like a pig on a skewer. Later you’re sunburned and in severe pain, yelling at anyone that tries to hug you, ‘DON’T TOUCH ME, I’m sunburned!’ Then you’re rubbing yourself down with aloe vera, taking cold showers and crying ‘Why did I do this to myself?! Never again!’
But then your sunburn peels off and you have a tan. You think, Wow, I look great! And you’re off to the pool again, not to practice your breaststroke, but to bake like a batch of funfetti cupcakes.
You might have an awesome tan now, but all that sun exposure wrecks havoc on your skin. It can make your skin unnecessarily leathery and wrinkly when you’re older. So if skin cancer doesn’t scare you straight, maybe your vanity will?
I agree, many people look better with a little tan. But they don’t look better when they are TOO tan, or much darker than their natural skin tone. My mom is from the Philippines, a land where many people try to avoid the sun, not bask in it. When she notices I’m a bit tanner, she exclaims “Wow, you’re tan!”
My natural reaction is often, “Thanks!”
Then I remember who I am talking to and before I can explain myself, she says,
“That wasn’t a compliment.”
Filipino or Russian, Beach Bunny or Eskimo, here are some simple and fool-proof tips to protect your skin while you’re taking in those rays.
1. Wear broad spectrum sunscreen every single day. Broad spectrum sunscreen helps block out both UVA and UVB rays. The sun shines year round, so you and your precious skin are at risk every day, not just during the spring and summer. Clouds are no match for UV rays and you are no match for skin cancer.
2. Wear sunscreen with antioxidants (like Vitamin C, E, Green tea extract, etc). Many sunscreens now have antioxidants in them, or you can wear a separate antioxidant cream underneath. My favorite is Alba Aloe and Green Tea Oil-Free Moisturizer. It is certified organic, inexpensive and you can find it at any drugstore. Another great drugstore cream is Avalon Vitamin C Renewal Creme.
3. Wear hats and UV protected sunglasses. Are you noticing a pattern here?
4. If you want to tan, use self-tanner. And if you have used self-tanner, wear sunscreen over it. Self-tanner is the safest tanning option, much better than the sun, or dangerous tanning beds (aka cancer boxes). But it does make your skin more susceptible to the sun than usual, so layer on that sunscreen.
Self tanners have come a long way and there are some really good ones that give you a natural looking tan vs. the classic tacky orange nightmares from the past. Jaundice is not a good look on anyone. 5. Keep a close eye on your moles and the moles of your friends and family. I know, it sounds weird, but we think its nice when someone tells us we have spinach in our teeth. So why not when a mole looks irregular? I have definitely told people if a mole they have has changed or looks irregular. You want to catch these things right away, and if anything seems strange, get thee to a dermatologist. Click here for more information on how to examine your moles: http://www.skincancer.org/dysplastic-nevi-atypical-moles.html
6. Don’t be so intimidated you skip all this and run to the beach basted in I Can’t Believe It’s not Butter. The sun is really strong so for those of you who are tan happy, rest assured, you will still tan if you wear hats, sunglasses and sunscreen.
And don’t feel guilty about sun exposure in general. Sun intake is healthy in small, daily amounts because it provides us with much needed Vitamin D. Dr. Oz recommends getting 10-15 minutes of sun a day, while wearing sunscreen on your face and hands. But in this case, more sun is not better, so don’t applaud yourself for 8 hours of extra credit/sun exposure . http://www.doctoroz.com/videos/daily-dose-vitamin-d
For up-to-date information, check out these resources: