Did you know that your summer “glow” is really a sign of skin damage? When your skin turns a darker shade from sun exposure, it indicates you have caused skin cell damage. Beyond the obvious aging of your skin that occurs, your health is at risk with unprotected sun exposure.
Just one sunburn from too much unprotected sun exposure can put you at risk for skin cancer. The most common sun-exposed areas are the face, ears, neck, lips and backs of the hands. So, what should you do if you still want that bronzed look? Here’s some information for you to consider:
Tanning Beds: UV rays in tanning beds are NOT safe! Tanning beds emit more than 10 times the UVA light that natural sunlight does, increasing your risk of skin cancer. If your choice is between going to a tanning bed or being in the sun, choose the sun. But be sure to dress properly and apply sunscreen.
Sunless Tanning Pills: These pills contain the color additive canthaxanthin, which can cause liver damage when taken in large doses. Canthaxanthin can also cause hives and impaired vision, and it is not approved by the FDA.
Bronzers: Many people think bronzers act as sunscreens, but this is false. A bronzer should NEVER replace your daily broad-spectrum SPF. Instead, apply SPF before applying your bronzer. Remember that you need to re-apply SPF throughout the day.
Spray Tans and Lotions: Spray tans and lotions contain an FDA-approved substance called DHA that alters skin color. DHA causes a browning reaction in your skin’s topmost layer, which is composed of dead cells. Spray tans and lotions have not shown any connection to skin cancer. When applied correctly, avoiding the sensitive skin around the eyes and lips, spray tans and lotions are the safest way to achieve a tan appearance.
According to the American Cancer Society, more than 3.5 million people are diagnosed with non-melanoma skin cancer in the U.S. annually, and an additional 70,000 are diagnosed with melanoma—the deadliest form of skin cancer. Skin cancer is most commonly caused by exposure to UV rays from either tanning beds or natural sunlight. Rather than risk the danger to your health, why not embrace your natural glow or try a sunless tan?
Renee Cato is a senior medical aesthetician with Carolina Plastic Surgery and Aesthetics.