We have all been there. It's summer and we have done about 2000 crunches and at least three diet cleanses to prepare our bikini bodies for endless days at the beach. While we focus on how we look in our bathing suits, we tend to ignore what we are doing to our skin. Yeah, we apply SPF-tinted makeup and some of us with fairer complexions asphyxiate our friends with our spray sunscreen application, but do we really understand the danger of overexposure to UV rays?
1. Not all moles, dark spots, and other skin growths are dangers: FACT
However, according to the American Cancer Fund, although "moles, brown spots and growths on the skin are usually harmless," abnormal moles can be a first sign of skin cancer. Some things to look for are:
- Asymmetric shapes
- Uneven edges of moles or dark spots
- Multiple colors
- Diameter larger than a pencil eraser
- Any changes in the mole's characteristics
2. All sunscreens are created equal: MYTH
Do not be fooled ladies and gentlemen! Some sunscreens are not as effective as others. When choosing a sunscreen, look for a broad-spectrum, or full-spectrum, sunscreen because it protects you from both types of UV light, UVA and UVB. UVA light can cause premature aging, while UVB light is primarily responsible for burning your skin; however, both UVA and UVB cause skin cancer. You should also choose a sunscreen with an SPF, sun protection factor, over 15. Sunscreens with an SPF less than 15 are not effective in reducing the risk of skin cancer.http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/best-sunscreen/art-20045110?pg=2
3. Tanning beds can cause cancer: FACT
According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, the chances of an individual of developing melanoma in his/her lifetime, "increases by 75 percent when you use tanning beds before the age of 30." http://www.skincancer.org/healthy-lifestyle/go-with-your-own-glow/the-truth-about-tanning
4. Sunburn is the only way to see skin damage: MYTH
Just because you never burn does not mean you aren't at risk for skin damage. Tan skin as well as sunburned skin indicates cell damage.
5. "It's cloudy! I won't get burned!" MYTH
Unfortunately, UV rays are not stopped by clouds or rainy days. These skin cancer-causing rays can pass through clouds, so it's important to remember to wear sunscreen no matter what the weather is.
6. It is okay to cover up: FACT
Wearing a tee shirt for part of the afternoon or donning your favorite monogrammed snapback or floppy hat is not going to ruin your beach day fun. Your 40 year old self will probably thank you for preventing those future wrinkles and your grandmother (and overprotective dad) will probably be glad you covered up!