What’s the Damage?
Unquestionably some, potentially a lot. If you love (or used to love) maintaining a golden-bronze tan, you’ve unwittingly contributed to the aging of your skin. Sunbathing destroys the fibers that keep your skin looking firm and smooth, which leads to earlier wrinkles, blotches, and freckles. More important, tanning and sunburn contribute significantly to skin cancer.
Your odds of developing skin cancer are higher if you have pale skin, blonde or red hair, and/or blue eyes: all signs that your skin has low levels of protective melanin. If you endured three or more blistering sunburns before age 15, you’re at higher risk for melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer.
Trips to the tanning salon are particularly bad. Tanning beds, which may emit even more UV rays than midday summer sun, don’t give you a “safe” base tan. They actually more than double your risk of skin cancer, according to Brown University Medical School research.
While you can’t undo past sun sins, it’s never too late to start doing damage control now. Read on for tips to protect your skin—and even save your life.
Slather on Sunscreen
Pick a broad-spectrum brand (which means it protects against both UVA and UVB rays) with SPF 15 or greater (many derms recommend using 30 or greater when you’ll be outside for long stretches). See our favorite sunscreens here.