You are young and out having fun with your life. You are not thinking about growing old or getting so called “old people’s” diseases like cancer. However, the harsh reality is that young people do get cancer. The American Academy of Dermatology sites that Melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer, is the most common cancer in Americans between the ages of 25 and 29. UV (Ultra-Violet) rays from the sun don’t just effect the surface of your skin like you see with a tan, a sunburn or freckles. These rays also penetrate deep down to your live cells. The long term results being either dry, wrinkled, prematurely aged skin due to the break down of collagen and elastin or even worse – skin cancer. Your tan may fade by the summer’s end, but that doesn’t mean that you are out of the woods because UV damage accumulates throughout your lifetime. A bad sunburn today may result in the formation of abnormal cells, which over time, could manifest into cancer cells. This can all sound ! a bit scary, but through a few simple steps followed everyday you can protect yourself with minimal effort.

Lets start with a quick quiz to see how knowledgeable you are about your risk factors.


1. I am only at risk of sun damage during the summer months………(True/False)
(you are exposed to UV rays 365 days of the year-including winter)

2. I don’t sun bath so I am not in danger………(True/False)
(You are exposed to damaging UV rays during all of your outdoor activities including those as routine as watching a school football game, standing out on the sidewalk talking with your friends and even while driving)

3. I don’t have to worry about sun damage on cloudy days………(True/False)
(UV rays are not blocked by clouds. You are subjected to UV rays even on overcast days)

4. I use a tanning bed instead of sun bathing so I am safe……(True/False)
(In fact the exposure you get in a tanning bed is several times more intense, which is why you are only allowed to use them for a few minutes at a time. Using a tanning bed is the equivalent of stepping inside your microwave and hitting “High” for 15 minutes)

So you can see that unless you spend every minute of everyday in an underground cave you are never truly free from UV rays. The good news is that as a young adult you have a tremendous opportunity to create good skin care habits now. Time is on your side and with a little knowledge of the basics you can dramatically reduce your possibilities of suffering from damaging UV rays throughout your lifetime.

Here’s what to do:

? Wear a sunscreen of a minimum of SPF 15 every day as your moisturizer, preferably one labeled Broad Spectrum, which will block out both UVA and UVB rays. There are a lot of great products on the market for all skin types.
? Reapply your sunscreen every two hours to compensated for sweating, swimming, and product break down. I carry a small bottle of sunscreen in my purse for easy access.
? Wear a hat and/or sunglasses when you are out and about.
? Use a sunless tanning lotion or spray to achieve the tan look you desire. Just remember to exfoliate first and you are sure to get a smooth natural look that is safe.
? Use an umbrella at the beach or pool to help shade yourself from the intensity of the 10am-3pm sun.

By following these few basic steps you will go a long way in saving the youthfulness of your skin and maybe even your life. Taking steps now to safeguard yourself will save you the expense of specialty products and the heartache of invasive corrective treatments when you are 40. Your skin is the largest organ of your body and it can’t be replaced. So go out and have fun. Just remember to use your head when it comes to sun safety. You will thank yourself later.

Author's Bio: 

Maggie West