Have fun in the sun but protect your skin

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If beauty is truly only skin deep, we ought to take that as a warning to protect our hides from the sun and tanning beds.

Skin comes in so many beautiful colors: ebony, mocha, cafe au lait, cream, and many more browns and beiges. However, the worst skin colors that inevitably pop up every summer are fiery scarlet and tanorexic burnt orange. It’s important for people to learn to love the skin they are born with because, not only do these artificial shades look bad, they are also extremely unhealthy.

According to the National Cancer Institute, women who use tanning beds more than once a month are 55 percent more likely to develop malignant melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer. Skin cancer is the most prevalent cancer in the U.S., with more than one million people annually diagnosed, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. One out of five Americans will develop skin cancer in the course of their lifetime and more than 90 percent of skin cancers are caused by too much sun exposure.

Sunlight in moderation provides many healthy benefits, such as vitamin D, which reduces the chance of cancer by 50 percent. Obtaining vitamin D from the sun is natural, free and easier for the body to absorb than from supplements. However, at the first sign of the skin becoming pink, it’s time to seek shade to prevent further sun damage.

Avoiding tanning beds will allow for a little extra spending money for a natural sunscreen. Most commercial sunscreens like Banana Boat and Neutrogena have several carcinogenic chemicals that cause free radical damage. Any lotion that’s applied to your skin is absorbed into your bloodstream and travels throughout your body. Any sunscreen with long, hard to pronounce ingredients like iodopropynyl butylcarbamate (which, by the way, can cause fertility problems and risk to the fetuses of pregnant women) should be avoided. Octyl methoxycinnamate (OMC), a toxic ingredient that increases toxicity when in the sun, is found in 90 percent of sunscreen brands.

Instead, there are several chemical-free sunscreens with all natural ingredients, such as Burt Bees, Origins and more. They might cost a little bit more, but they are definitely worth it. They smell better, they feel better on your skin and provide healthy sun protection. UV Naturals, which contains only healthy ingredients, boasts that they do not test on animals and that their products are completely biodegradable.

Remember that the last thing you put onto your skin is the SPF. So, if your facial sunscreen lotion has an SPF of 30 and your make up has an SPF of 15, you’re walking beneath the sun with an SPF of 15. If your facial sunscreen lotion has an SPF of 30 and your cosmetics don’t have an SPF, you’re walking beneath the sun unprotected.

Celebrate summer by having fun in the sun, just don’t forget to protect your skin. Even the best faux tan isn’t worth the wrinkles and skin cancer. For someone beauty-conscious who is still dead set on acquiring that artificial bronze, I dare you to google images of skin cancer. It is one of the most horrific looking afflictions that I have ever seen.

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