Now that it’s finally summer (though judging by the weather in New York, you cannot bloody tell) everyone and their mother is suddenly obsessed with the pallor of their skin! “Oooh I’m so pasty” “Look at my legs, I’m like a ghost.” and so on and so forth. I even work across the street from a tanning place that is open 24 HOURS!! Who in the world thinks at 4am “I’m going to get myself a tan!” My boss said “Ooooh I’m gonna go” and I nearly slapped the teefs outta her mouth! Friends don’t let friends tan drunk. In fact….friends really should let friends tan at all, and I’ll tell you why (in a hopefully non-offensive and non-preachy manner….but I will not hesitate to smack your teefs out too, if you say crazy things like you want to lock yourself in a sunbed at 4am).

Deep under our desire to be beachy, bronzed summerboys and girls (I sort of blame the influx of sexy Brazilian models for this…Gisele, I’m looking at your absurdly perfect face), lies the frailty of our own tender epidermis. Yes, a little vitamin D on the skin is essential. I’m not saying go become a shut-in. But when you think about it, too much sun exposure, or even worse concentrated frying UVA/UVB rays is insane. Why do we wear sunglasses to shield our eyes, and leave our skin to fend for itself?Think of sunscreen like Ray-Bans for your skin. Hip, fashionable, and necessary. Check out this super interesting article:

http://www.dermanetwork.org/news/news_details.asp?ID=550

Frankly, I love the idea of limiting sunbed use by minors. Not only do I believe it will drastically cut the number of young people diagnosed with melanoma, but hopefully there will be fewer orange, wrinkly fourteen year olds scaring the crap out of me on the streets. You haven’t screamed from the depths of your soul until you’ve seen a fourteen year old who looks more like a forty year old. Or a forty year old who dresses like a fourteen year old. But that’s another issue altogether.

The majority of skin damage happens in our youth, when we don’t think much of our quick pre-prom tan, or that sunburn we got at beach week. We’re young, we’re invincible, and we bounce back. But even those of us who have never lain upon a tanning bed end up with irreversible damage. And I’m speaking from experience. Three years ago I had a misshapen mole appear amongst the freckles on my back. My father, having also undergone extensive (and hugely uncomfortable) treatments for his own melanoma, told me to see a dermatologist right away. The mole was easy to spot as one of the “evil” kind and I’ll let you know what you need to be looking for, so you can check out your own skin with the facts on your side! In the May 2009 issue of GLAMOUR magazine, they issue an excellent (rip-out-and-keep-good) list of skin irregularities to watch out for, including Atypical moles, Basal Cell Carcinoma, Squamous Cell Carcinoma and Melanoma. The article also encourages readers to check parts of their body not usual exposed to sun (chest, underarms) and crazy places you would never guess (under nails! under eyelids!) Look for spots:

*Changes in color, most often much darker than others

*Changes in texture, most often a feeling of being “bumpier” than others, with ridged edges

*A mole that appears quickly and grabs your attention

Examples of these can be found on many health-related websites, and are important to check out. Even if you think “It’s probably nothing”, GET IT CHECKED OUT ANYWAY. Even now, I have a standing appointment with a dermatologist next month to get another suspicious blotch on my skin dealt with. And I’ll be honest, it’s scary, it sucks, and it hurts. But if it is something that could save my life, then you know I’m going to do it!

As for your need for a tan (because I am not entirely cruel) I suggest two options.

1.) Fakey tan. There are so many good brands that don’t make you oompa-loompa orange. I’ve gotten good feedback on the Neutrogena and Jergens brands. And ladies, if you are tanning because you think your boyfriend will dig it, I can 100% guarantee that he won’t be able to tell the difference between “tan” you and “regular” you. 

2.) Embrace the paler you! English rose is hot right now. Think Keira Knightley, Rachel Weisz, Emma Watson beauty. Not bad, right? I’d like to look like that. 

Enjoy the sun. Enjoy your freckles (they’re my favorite feature). Just remember to keep it SPF’d like whoa, and that tanning beds lead to a lot of unnecessary troubles.

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