It’s understandable that you’d want to get that golden glow in time for your Independence Day celebration or BBQ. But how can you do it safely, without risking skin cancer? We’ll give you some tips so you can look great, feel confident, and remain healthy for years to come.
Sadly, skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States, with more than 9,500 people diagnosed with skin cancer every day and more than two people dying of the disease every hour according to The Skin Cancer Foundation. Skin cancer is primarily caused by exposure to harmful UV light. This can come from the sun or from artificial light sources like tanning beds and booths.
Types of skin cancer include melanoma, basal cell carcinoma (BCC), or squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). Signs of skin cancer can range from new spots on the skin to existing moles that change size, shape, or color. Sometimes, a lump might form on the skin. Other times, there may be no indicator visible on the skin’s surface at all.
Since early detection is key in both the prevention and the treatment of skin cancers, it’s critical to receive a skin cancer screening at least yearly -- or more if you’re at high risk of developing skin cancer due to personal or familial history of it. Always wear sunscreen with SPF 30-50 in the sun. In fact, dermatologists recommend wearing SPF 15 sunscreen every day, even when you’re indoors.
Fortunately, there are ways you can get the tan you’re looking for without harming your skin or causing it to age prematurely. Applying a self tanning spray or lotion is a way to get that sun-kissed look without exposing the skin to UV light at all. These types of tanning formulas can be bought at drug stores or even higher end cosmetic stores. Or you can opt for a professional spray tan. There’s a self tanning option for every budget!
We recommend exfoliating the skin before application to slough off dead skin cells and smooth out rough patches. The same goes for shaving or waxing -- the lack of hair creates a smooth canvas for the tanning formula to go on without streaking. Just be sure not to remove hair immediately before your self tan -- allow at least 24 hours for the pores to close so the hair follicles don’t become irritated.
If you’re applying the formula yourself, start at the bottoms of your legs and work your way up, being sure to blend. If you find any spots look too dark, you can squeeze a little lemon juice on them and wipe gently with a washcloth. One final tip: avoid lotions, deodorants, and perfumes before self tanning, as these can cause chemical reactions that stain or even damage the skin.
Want to get a skin cancer screening or more tips for self tanning? If you’re in the greater New York City area, contact Vanguard Dermatology today for an appointment with one of our board-certified dermatologists.