Sun Safety


“Wanna go tan?”

Those words probably don’t seem like a threat to you, but recent skin cancer studies prove the harmful effects of tanning — especially for teens — can be fatal. Getting some sun won’t only wrinkle your skin to look like a cheap leather bag — ┬ásun exposure also increases your risk of getting a deadly skin cancer, melanoma.

Even though many teens are the most tanorexic sun worshipers out there, high-risk tanning in the sun, in tanning beds and from sun lamps are habit-forming, carcinogenic, and has recently proven to actually be addictive. Hmm…makes tanning sound a lot like cigarettes.

In fact, one person in the U.S. dies from melanoma every 62 minutes. Pretty scary, considering skin cancer can be prevented and treated. Turns out the cost to look bronzed is higher than most think. Guess who’s NOT dying to look tan in their new bikini? Celebrities. According to Lucky Magazine’s Editor-in-Chief, even the most notoriously glam tan stars use self-tanning products. “I remember J.Lo for instance, when she was first coming out on the scene and everyone was like, ‘Wow, she has this beautiful glow. She’s always so tan,’ but her makeup artist told me, it’s all fake.”

Makeup artists apply bronzers, self-tanners, illuminators and makeup to the naturally pale glitterati. “And, I think that’s very smart for celebrities,” said Chen. “They aren’t going to have as long of a career if they have sun damage like wrinkles or scars from removing melanomas. That’s not sexy.”

Board-certified dermatologist Dr. Carol Drucker agrees, “For teens who insist on getting color, a spray-on tan is the only safe tan.”

Dr. Drucker, who is also a professor of dermatology at The University of Texas, encourages teens to trade in their tan for even better fashion accessories, like big sunglasses and floppy hats. “This season, it’s easy for teens to stock up on cute, stylish hats that will also shield their face in the sun and big sunglasses that will block out more sun,” she explained in an email. Plus, she said it’s easy to protect your skin every day, “It’s important to find products — make-up, hairspray, hand lotions — that already have SPF and add it to a daily routine.”

Looking chic and keeping our skin safe? We’re in!


"There's no such thing as safe tanning.

That term is an oxymoron to begin with, basically when you're in the sun, you are damaging that first, top layer of skin cells. You're frying them and they are dying off -- that's what you are seeing when you see a tan -- sun damage. Your risk for melanoma rises exponentially every time you tan.

Celebrate your own color, love the color you were born with. It's what mother nature intended. And, always apply sunscreen and seek shade during the peak hours."


"The best way to protect your skin is to not do the fake tanning, like the sunbeds, which are so popular -- not lie out at the beach -- and use bronzers and self-tanners. It's funny because so many teenagers email me saying 'Oh, I like the look of this celebrity has,' but what they don't realize is, those celebrities are not lying out or baking. It's all makeup, the power of cosmetics basically.

I remember J.Lo for instance, when she was first coming out on the scene and everyone was like, 'Wow, she has this beautiful glow.' She's always so tan,' but her makeup artist told me, it's all fake. They apply bronzers, illuminators, they use highlighters, they use self-tanners and when she washes it all off, she's actually very pale.

And, I think that's very smart for celebrities to do because celebrities are making their money on the way they look and the longevity of their careers. They aren't going to have as long of a career if they have sun damage like wrinkles or scars from removing melanomas. That's not sexy.

A lot of people think of that disgusting, really chemically self-self tanner smell, or they think of Oompa-Loompa orange, but nowadays that's just not the case anymore. There are so many beautiful, super natural shades for everyone. There's a bronzer and a self-tanner for everyone, you just have to find it."


"Definitely. The sun is definitely harmful to one's hair. You have to take care of your hair just as well as you have to take care of your skin. People who color their hair can see immediate problems. Their hair splinters, gets drier because of the heat. We always recommend our readers use UV filters in their hair or put conditioner in their hair and braid it to prevent breakage.

Your hair is still a part of your body even though it's a dead protein. It's still a growing, active part of your body. It's important to take care of it.

Any product that works for heat -- heat styling or heat tools -- you can also spray those in your hair. You should also try tucking your hair away. That beach look that you see with perfect cascading curls -- that's for a photo shoot. I would not recommend leaving your hair down like that at the beach."


"A lot of dermatologists we talk to recommend rash guards, which are those light weight suits by Roxy -- a lot of surf brands make them. We recently interviewed a surfer, Carissa Moore, a Nike athlete who is top ranked and amazing. She swears by them.

Certain swimsuit fabrics do guard better than others. You're looking for something with a heavier weave and obviously if you wear a more full coverage bathing suit, you'll get more sun protection, but at the same time, the average bathing suit gives an SPF 4. So, a lot of surf brands make suits with up to an SPF of 60.

Under Armour, a lot of their work out collections [for summer] have SPF 60, so you could be running in the park and you're protecting yourself. The average T-Shirt* only provides an SPF 4."

The SPF of t-shirts depends on the weave of the cotton and the color of the shirt. Unless your t-shirt is specifically designed to protect you from the sun, you should assume it provides an SPF of less than 10, if that.


"Oh, definitely. Physician's Formula is one we hear from makeup artists consistently. It's great because it's a drugstore brand, so it's about five dollars a pop. If you go to a store like CVS, where they have a great return policy, you can buy a few shades and return the ones that don't work for you.

They have a few different technologies. Some people like the shimmery look, some like the matte-look and there's also the self-tanner Jergen's Natural Glow, which has the self-developing color. They have a bronzer that develops color as you use it. Jergen's was obviously a pioneer in self-tanning and gradual tanning market and it's still number one. Every year at Teen Vogue we do a beauty award and for the past four years we've chosen Jergen's Natural Glow as the best tan product.

Dior, which is definitely more of the premium market, has beautiful packaging that makes you feel really special when you open it. And Neutrogena has fantastic ones as well."


"There's this myth that tanning beds provide Vitamin D. Vitamin D is a hot topic out there right now, but the truth is, you only need about 20 minutes of sun exposure and it can be like the back of your neck or your arms. For most people, walking to the subway in the morning and walking from the subway, that's all you need. You also get it from food.

When you're lying in a tanning bed, you're basically getting a straight shot of skin cancer-causing rays. And, it's like you're basically asking for premature wrinkling -- asking for hyper-pigmentation -- you're asking for a higher risk of skin cancer. I just don't understand the sensibility behind lying there in this coffin-like box that causes all of these awful things. They are not safer than tanning outdoors."


"I personally, am a fan of them. I'm sure teenagers are writing angry letters about because they are also addictive, so I'm sure they are all hooked on it. I know in some states they require -- I think it's Texas -- there is a state requiring that teens bring a doctor's note to get access to a tanning bed. Unless it's a medical treatment, like very, very extreme cases of psoriasis, then it's a whole different category.

There are restrictions on dangerous behaviors like smoking and I think tanning is no less addictive. You might not see the repercussions immediately, but it's the same with smoking, you can smoke for years before you get lung cancer, and it's the same with tanning, you can tan for years before you'll get skin cancer."


"There are so many examples of celebrities that are pale and absolutely gorgeous. You have Anne Hathaways, Natalie Portman, both of the Gossip Girls -- Leighton Meester and Blake Lively -- they both have very fair skin. Go with what works for you, you know? They are all very pale and I think it looks very refined to have your natural skin color.

I think tanning has been in fashion for 50 years now and it doesn't seem to be slowing down, but at the same time there's such a negative association with certain celebrities who are too tan -- I'm sure you can think of some -- Paris Hilton for instance.

So tanning has kind of gone out of fashion, where some people don't want to be tan per se, because it's perceived as being a little tacky. Yet, they want to glow. Here at Teen Vogue we hear: 'I want to glow.' 'I want to look luminous.' 'I want that healthy glow.'

Hopefully we'll continue working in that direction where people are celebrating their inner beauty and that glow. I think people look the best when they come back from sports or at the gym and they have that healthy flush. They look alive, vital and happy. I think that's what people are trying to capture. Hopefully tanning will go out of fashion, but that healthy glow will never go out of fashion."


New research shows an increase in skin cancer in young people.


A new report shows skin cancer in young women is skyrocketing.

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