As the weather cools down and our tans begin to fade, the realization that summer is over begins to set in. Although that beautiful bronzed glow makes us feel more confident, it comes at a very high risk as exposure to ultraviolet radiation, whether it be from the sun or a tanning bed, is the most common cause of skin cancer.

According to an article by Harvard Health Publishing, “It doesn’t matter whether you get it from the sun or from artificial sources such as sun lamps and tanning beds—ultraviolet (UV) radiation is linked to skin cancers […] and to other sorts of skin damage, particularly premature skin aging (photoaging).”

Although the sun does provide us with a variety of benefits such as vitamin D, lower blood pressure and an improved mood, too much exposure can lead to severely damaged skin that is wrinkled or leather-like. It is extremely important to protect your skin using a reliable sunscreen and it is key to continue reapplying it throughout the day. This ensures that you don’t go through periods of having unprotected skin. UV rays damage your skin regardless of whether a clear change in colour is apparent on your skin or not.

The Skin Cancer Foundation states, “people who first use a tanning bed before age 35 increase their risk for melanoma by 75 percent.” There is a possibility that tanning beds can increase our levels of vitamin D, however it is recommended that people consume vitamin D through their diet or take vitamin supplements.

As said in an article by Love Well, “According to the American Cancer Society, over 3.5 million people are diagnosed with non-melanoma skin cancer in the United States each year.” They go on to say, “This doesn’t include the 70,000 diagnosed cases of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.”

Spray tans serve as a better alternative to tanning beds and natural sunlight. Although the results may not be as desirable as from UV rays, it is a much safer way to still get some colour while not increasing your chances of skin cancer. Finding a good self-tanner is also another alternative to tanning beds or natural sunlight because, like spray tans, it is not damaging the DNA inside skin cells.

As stated previously, making regular trips to the beach or the tanning salon will severely damage your skin and vastly increase your chances of skin cancer, regardless of noticeable colour changes to your skin. Spray tans and self-tanners may not give us the long-lasting natural tan that we desire, but it can still provide us with a little extra colour that doesn’t harm your skin.