After a recent trip to the dermatologist produced a surprise biopsy, as well as a second biopsy with larger margins for precautionary reasons; this one hundred percent Italian realized she has to take exposure to the sun a lot more seriously from now on. Because of my heritage, and tendency to tan rather than burn, I thought I did not have to be concerned with skin cancer the way my more fair-skinned friends have. While I have not been diagnosed with melanoma, I have now had the threat presented to me in a very personal way. Frankly, this change caused me to try some other methods of getting an outdoor glow; and I could not be happier with the results.
Most people are more than aware of the dangers of indoor tanning in a sunless tanning bed. Conversely, many people are not aware of the benefit of sunless tanning, or spray tanning. Let’s face it, we have all seen people who resemble Oompa Loompas and been turned off to spray tanning. With technology and the sunless tanning products vastly improved, spray tanning is the best option to look beach bronzed without the harmful and damaging rays. In addition to the speed in which you are tanned and the length of time the single visit lasts (a week), you are not only saving your skin and potentially your life; but a great deal of time.
Risk Factors for melanoma
Melanoma is the most deadly form of skin cancer, and there are a number of risk factors associated with an increased risk of melanoma. Some risk factors are items over which a person has no control, but are important to be aware of because the presence of these factors should raise the concern that melanoma is a risk.
Risk Factors for melanoma we have no control
If you are not able to stay away from the sun, there is a theory that that by blocking the UV radiation absorption by the skin you might reduce the risk of skin cancer. Blocking UV radiation can be done with a wide range of sunscreen products, including lotions, creams, protective clothing, umbrellas, sunglasses, hats, etc. But the role of sunscreens to help prevent melanoma remains controversial. Studies of the use of sunscreen are confounded by the fact that people who use sunscreen are also spending more time out in the sun, and often have underlying risks such as fair skin, so teasing out those increased risks from the possible benefit of sunscreens is tough. That said, more studies are suggesting a benefit for sunscreen.
You don’t want SPF higher than 50+. EWG points out that sunscreens with SPFs of 70 or 110 may protect you against sunburn but could leave your skin exposed to damaging UVA rays. Although SPF stands for “Sun Protection Factor,” this number refers to only protection against UVB radiation which burns the skin, but it does not tell us the protection factor against UVA rays which accelerate skin aging and may cause skin cancer.
Avoid sunscreens containing Oxybenzone. Nearly half of all sunscreens (and many cosmetics) contain oxybenzone. EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database rates oxybenzone as an “8″ or “high hazard.” According to EWG, this chemical penetrates the skin, gets into the bloodstream and acts like estrogen in the body. It can trigger allergic reactions and health harms including endometriosis in women and low sperm counts in men.
Do not use spray sun screen
While many people view spray sunscreen as convenient and less greasy, it is seen to be one of the worst types of sunscreen for our health for two reasons. First, according to the non-profit Environmental Working Group (EWG), “There’s growing concern that these sprays pose serious inhalation risks.” Essentially, the sunscreen chemicals are not meant to be inhaled into the lungs, and it’s almost impossible to avoid this when applying spray sunscreen. (Even when your someone nearby is applying a spray sunscreen, it’s safest for you to turn away and/or cover your nose and mouth.) Secondly, EWG points out that spray sunscreens make it too easy to miss a spot on your body or to apply too little of the product to really be effective in blocking the sun’s harmful rays.
Broad Spectrum sunscreen
Use “broad spectrum” sunscreen that protects against both UVB and UVA rays. As The Skin Cancer Foundation writes, “UVB is the chief culprit behind sunburn, while UVA rays, which penetrate the skin more deeply, are associated with wrinkling, leathering, sagging, and other light-induced effects of aging.” Enough said, right?
European consumers have better options
European consumers have superior sunscreen options than are available to consumers in the U.S. According to EWG, Americans have fewer choices of quality sunscreen than Europeans. They report that, “More than half of the 750 [U.S. market] beach and sport sunscreens reviewed by EWG are too weak to be sold in the European market.” EWG points out that in Europe, all sunscreens must offer UVA protection that is at least one third as potent as the SPF (i.e. UVB protection).
Check the expiration dates for any sunscreens laying around your house. According to Consumer Reports, sunscreens start losing their sun-protecting power when the ingredients start to separate, turn gritty or change in appearance.
Get your glow on
Sunless tanning is the very best option if you wish to tan your skin. You save time, risk and it does not age your skin. It can also be a fun girl’s night out if you host a spray tan party!