I usually try to avoid discussing depressing or negative topics in this blog, but sometimes bringing up certain topics is just one of those necessary evils that we have to face. When it comes to skin care, I have always been pretty good about wearing sunscreen and especially wearing hats when in the sun because of my tendency to burn and get moles. Also, my skin has ALWAYS been sensitive to the sun, whether it was shown through miserable days of sun poisoning or simply unexpected sunburn when sunscreen was forgotten. However, I have been a teenager AND beach kid, making avoidance of the sun and covering up in the summer months almost impossible. Since I have such a tendency to get moles and freckles after being in the sun, I’ve already been to the dermatologist to get about 5 moles taken off so far… and I’m only 21 years old. Yes, that may seem a bit over the top, but I am always reminding myself that the small and annoying scars resulting from getting a few moles taken off will always be FAR less detrimental than the discovery of skin cancer down the road.
In the U.S, skin cancer has been on the rise for a long time and its ascent is definitely not stopping anytime soon- especially while we still have tanning beds in every city and continue to glamourize the look of tanned skin in the media. Also, skin cancer is rising not only among the older age groups but also among many young women. It’s frustrating to me that we are still putting ourselves at risk so often, especially while the world is trying so hard to keep us educated about the rise in skin cancer and ways to prevent it. My generation is especially guilty of this negligence because we have the access to so many sources of information and protective measures today, but we are still barely putting them to use! I think that people, especially women my age, simply don’t think that skin cancer is as much of a risk and danger to them as it really is. They’re choosing to ignore the facts and are instead choosing to believe that they won’t get cancer, just because. We need to start taking it seriously and stop believing that we are immune. Also, people today aren’t checking up on their family history, which is another huge factor affecting the development of skin cancer. Ask your family members if they’ve had any form of skin cancer and make sure you let your dermatologist know if anyone has. Also, make sure that you actually go to a dermatologist at least once a year (in my opinion). A tiny mole or even a red spot can end up being cancerous; so don’t think that your “safe-looking” spots are in the clear. I started going to a dermatologist about 4 years ago and you should get on it if you haven’t already started going to your own.
Today, there are so many ways to reduce your risk and even prevent getting skin cancer that it’s truly disappointing how many of us are still using tanning beds and ignoring the rising rates of diagnosis. I know it may seem difficult for many of you to actually WANT to prevent your skin from getting tan and golden, especially when the weather starts getting warm. With the universal belief floating around our culture that being tan is beautiful and healthy, our heads obviously can’t always be in the right place when it comes to sun exposure. However, fair and pale skin is honestly just as (if not more) beautiful and much healthier than tanned skin. Plus, it’s more natural looking and won’t leave you with unsightly wrinkles and loads of sunspots (or cancer) on your body down the road. If you aren’t able to force yourself to embrace your natural skin tone all year round, then there is always the option of using self-tanner, which is amazing nowadays! I use self-tanner quite a bit in the spring and summer months myself, and it truly looks just as natural as a real tan does.
Once you are able to come to terms with the reality that tanned skin doesn’t define beauty, all you have to do to protect yourself is wear sunscreen (and makeup with SPF), wear hats and sunglasses, visit the derm every now and then, and stay educated! There are even various types of food that you can eat to help protect your skin from harmful rays. For example, tomatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes, dark veggies, watermelon, strawberries, kiwis, oranges, almonds, sunflower seeds, apples, green tea, red snapper, and even dark chocolate are able to provide extra armor for your skin from the sun. So, clearly there are many EASY ways that you can start protecting your skin and health today, which is the best time to begin since summer is now in full force!
Protect yourself in the sun like I do- with big sunnies and a hat!