This time of year, most people are ready to revel in the warmth of the sun. For some, sunshine holds the promise of getting beautifully tanned skin. While this may be admirable from a cosmetic standpoint, there is more harm than good done when we tan. This is true whether that tan is developed by sitting in the sunshine or under a tanning lamp. Regardless, tanning increases the risk of developing one or more of the common forms of skin cancer by 55%.
As if the prospect of getting skin cancer were not enough to halt the interest in tanning, we should throw it out there that the skin is aged every time it is exposed to UV light. UVA rays have specifically been pointed out as a contributing cause to premature aging. This is because this wavelength of light breaks down collagen, thus leading to dullness, spots, fine lines, and wrinkles.
If you’re tempted to head out into the sun for a golden tan before summer fades into fall, consider the ugly truth behind these myths.
Myth: Tan skin is more attractive than pale skin.
Truth: While you may feel good seeing bronzed skin when you look in the mirror now, chances are you won’t like the appearance of your skin at all after the long-term effects of photodamage begin to appear. What gives your skin radiance now gives your skin a mottled, rough, aged appearance later.
Myth: Skin cancer does not affect young people.
Truth: Studies are finding that skin cancer cases in younger individuals have been on the rise. At this time, the most aggressive form of skin cancer, melanoma, is the third most common cancer in the 15 to 39 age group.
Myth: A “base tan” will protect me from skin cancer and other damage.
Truth: All tanned skin is damaged skin. The very fact that the skin turns a golden color is an indication of that damage. The formation of pigment is a defense against UV exposure.
Myth: I can avoid risks like skin cancer and premature aging by using a tanning bed.
Truth: The FDA recently proposed specific guidelines that would restrict the use of tanning beds for individuals under the age of 18. Some states have banned indoor tanning for minors. Some tanning studios have clients sign periodic waivers acknowledging that they understand the risks associated with tanning beds. Why? Because indoor tanning is dangerous and significantly increases the risk of skin cancer, let alone the photodamage that occurs in the dermis.
Want golden skin? Find a reputable self-tanning lotion! This way, you don’t have to wait until summer to sport your best, healthiest glow.