Since I’ve been in an esthetics program I’ve realized just how bad certain things are for your skin, including UV light exposure. As a white girl who knows a lot of other white girls, I know how crazy people can get with their tanning beds and time out in the sun. For myself, I used to enjoy laying out in the sun in the summer. I was never into tanning beds except for one winter where I signed up for some tan time because I was desperate to cure my cold weather blues. (Those warm fuzzies you get are definitely a pick me up!) Either way, very bad for the skin. If you think you’re immune to skin cancer, you’re not, and if you’re not worried about turning into a wrinkly prune, you should be. I guarantee you if you don’t already see fine lines creeping in, they’re just under the surface along with hyperpigmentation.
The Department of Health and Human Services came out with a press release this summer which reported that rates of melanoma (the deadliest form of skin cancer) are increasing, and over the past 30 years, the number of people who had skin cancer was higher than the number of people who had all other types of cancer – combined. Contributing to this is the fact that one out of three white women between 16 and 25 tans indoors every year. That’s not to say that only white women are at risk or are engaging in risky behavior with the sun, because it can happen to anyone, but it seems like people take the health of their skin for granted.
Acting Surgeon General Boris D. Lushniak, M.D., M.P.H. said that “tanned skin is damaged skin, and we need to shatter the myth that tanned skin is a sign of health.” This seems like a huge part of tanning and the disregard for the risks involved – people say things like “I’m so pale” or “I just look better when I’m tan.” Personally, I see the appeal of having bronzed skin but I also see the beauty in any other skin tone, if that’s your natural skin tone. I don’t see the appeal of looking unnaturally tan, especially if someone who lives in Chicago in December looks like they’ve been on a beach every day. You’re not fooling anyone. (Then again, look however you want to look and do whatever makes you comfortable, but be safe and spray tan instead.)
Of course, it’s not that everyone lays in a tanning bed all the time; I would bet that the average person doesn’t wear sunscreen on a daily basis or, for women, assumes that the SPF in your foundation is good enough. In reality, you would have to use a ton of your foundation with SPF to get the protection you need.
I’ve also heard some people say that they’re not worried about wrinkles because they’ll just get Botox or some other procedure when they’re older. But why…when you could just prevent unnecessary and premature aging? You could wear sunscreen now, or wait until later and pay for Botox every six months, which won’t do anything for the sun spots or a sagging neck and loss of elasticity. Once you lose collagen, it’s gone girl (as in, it disappears and everyone blames Ben Affleck but it’s really your fault*). Can we also talk about how much faster your décolleté ages because it’s the most neglected spot? If you’re not trying to have crepe-y neck skin (let alone skin cancer), let’s just stay out of the tanning beds and remember to wear sunscreen everyday. It may not be on your mind, but it’s never too early and you’ll thank yourself later.
*I don’t actually know the plot of that book-turned-movie so I’m not sure if that analogy holds up, but it sounded clever.