This year’s theme for Skin Cancer Awareness Week (organised by the Cancer Council) was “own your tone,” and the focus was on the dangers of tanning.
It’s true that some people don’t burn, and they may seem lucky, but this doesn’t mean that they’re safe from skin cancer. UVB rays cause tanning, burning, visible damage to the skin and cancer. UVA rays can contribute to cancer even though they don’t tan or burn your skin.
Tanning became popular after the industrial revolution that moved labourers indoors to factories. A tan became the status symbol of those who enjoyed the luxury of outdoor leisure. From there it eventually leaked into becoming a beauty ideal.
The Cancer Council has touted many times over the years that a tan is not healthy, and it’s not a healthy way to protect your skin from sunburn. If you read the reports from beauty editors and male grooming experts, the message seems to have finally caught on.
GQ Magazine listed a subtle glow, the result of healthy skin instead of tanning, as one of the major trends of 2018, 1 and Vogue likened the tanning trend to a 1980s beauty ideal that’s run on long enough.2
Byrdie Beauty recently quoted the numbers behind the trends, citing reports from Reuters and JAMA Dermatology that showed significant decline in the use of tanning beds. According to the reports, adult usage of tanning beds decreased by 1/3 from 2010 to 2015. The industry for self-tanners (such as spray-on products) grew to $1 billion worldwide in 2017.3
Meanwhile, there has been a huge increase in companies adding Sun Protection Factors (SPF) to skincare products for men and women. It is important to note, though, that products containing SPF are not a substitute for sunscreen because the protective ingredients are not concentrated enough.
If you are going to use a self-tanning product to tint your skin, get your annual skin cancer check beforehand because the tinted product might make it more difficult for the doctor to assess your spots.
When you get your annual skin cancer check, your doctor should discuss your tanning history with you to determine your risk level. While some clinics provide a faster appointment, the doctors at Specialist Clinics of Australia believe it’s important to be more thorough and discuss your risk factors while analysing your skin.