Save the Skin You’re In

Skin Cancer and Sun Protection

We’re not afraid of the sun, and we don’t want you to be, either. However, it’s important to protect your skin from the dangers of sun exposure, especially if you want your skin to age well. Try your hand at answering the questions below to see if you’re ready for the great outdoors!

Are these statements true or false?

  1. Almost all of the sun damage I received was before the age of 18, so now that I’m older I don’t need to worry about sunblock any more.
  2. It’s safer to get a tan in a tanning bed because the dose is “controlled.”
  3. Even though I have dark skin, I’m still at risk for skin cancer.
  4. I get all the vitamin D I need from being outside in the sun.
  5. Sunscreen doesn’t protect skin from all types of sun damage.



In reality, most people have only accumulated roughly 25% of their lifetime UVR exposure by the time they reach adulthood. What does that mean? No matter your age, you can improve your skin and lower your risk for skin cancer by protecting your skin from damaging exposure with sun protective clothing and broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen. Apply sunscreen regularly and routinely to all exposed skin.


The amount of UVA received from indoor tanning sessions is higher than what is generally received outdoors. In addition, a single session of indoor tanning raises the risk of developing melanoma by 20% and almost doubles your risk of developing melanoma if you have your first session when you’re under the age of 35. Indoor tanning also increases your risk of other skin cancers.


People who have dark skin tones often believe they’re not at risk for skin cancer, but that is a dangerous misconception.

While incidence of melanoma is higher in the Caucasian population, a July 2016 study in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology showed it is more deadly in people of color. African American patients were most likely to be diagnosed with melanoma in its later stages than any other group in the study, and they also had the worst prognosis and the lowest overall survival rate.


While vitamin D is essential for your bone health and immune system, it is unlikely that most of us would be able to appropriately improve our vitamin D levels with sun exposure. First of all, our skin can only produce a limited amount in response to exposure to UVB. Light skin stops producing vitamin D after a few minutes of mid-day sun during the summer. Furthermore, too much sun actually begins to break down vitamin D, which may lower levels. People with darker skin and the elderly have a decreased ability to produce adequate amounts of vitamin D from sun exposure. Get your daily dose through a combination of food and supplements.


SPF measures protection from sunburn, but not other types of skin damage. The sun’s ultraviolet rays also generate free radicals that damage DNA and skin cells, accelerate skin aging and may cause skin cancer. American sunscreens can reduce these damages, but not as effectively as they prevent sunburn. Sunscreen companies commonly add SPF boosters that inhibit sunburn but may not protect from other damages. People can run into problems if they pick a sunscreen with poor UVA protection, apply too little or reapply it infrequently.

How did you do?

It’s important to have a skin screening each year to check for abnormalities and changes in your skin. This can be done by your primary care physician or a dermatologist. Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the U.S. and the number of cases continues to rise.

Ways to Love Your Skin

Happy mature woman looking in the mirror. Close-up

Feel good about your appearance and confident in how you greet the world each day using these five tips.

Hydrate. Use a humidifier in your home and apply a daily moisturizer that is right for your skin type. Avoid very long and very hot showers. The hot water actually dries out skin.

Say no to wrinkles. Sun damage is the number one contributor to this sign of aging, so always wear sunscreen!

Know your cosmetics. Avoid certain ingredients that can damage or irritate your skin. This may include products that contain dyes, fragrances, talc, harsh chemicals, alcohol, mineral oil or fillers. Make sure your products include an SPF of 30 or higher. A pure mineral makeup is especially preferable for those with sensitive skin.

Keep an even skin tone. While some skin discoloration is caused by skin conditions, most brown spots are caused by ultra violet radiation…the sun. The number one anti-aging skin care product is sunscreen. Reapply often if you are outside, in the water or are sweating.