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Spring has sprung, and summer is near! Where are you headed for fun and sun, this summer? Before you leave on your sunny adventure, be sure to get acquainted with sunscreen, its ingredients, and how you can protect yourself and your family from those harmful rays.

It is common knowledge that that sun’s UV rays are harmful to our skin. Most notably, UV radiation is the biggest risk factor for the development of the most common skin cancers. With increased awareness about the dangers of sun exposure, sunscreen use is on the rise. Here are a few tips on protecting your skin when you’re out enjoying the sun:

Instead of heading to the beach or into the sun, I have many patients who opt for the tanning salon to get a “base tan.” It’s a common misconception that a “base tan” will protect the skin from burning or sun damage, but in fact, getting a “base tan” in a tanning bed may be even worse than natural sunlight.

When your skin tans, the change in its color is a protective response to the reaction of exposure to UV radiation. The skin is injured the same way with a “base tan” as it is when it endures prolonged sun exposure. The effects may be even worse with such focused, intense UV radiation in a tanning bed. This ‘base tanning’ misconception may lead to sunburn in the short term and/or skin cancer, wrinkles and uneven color or texture down the road, which is what the tanner thought they were avoiding in the first place!

Almost all of us love a tan or at least a little sunkissed glow!  Even people with naturally olive, tan or brown skin enjoy the bronzed appearance that some sun can give you.

Unfortunately, the sun’s UV rays are also the biggest risk factor for skin cancers like basal cell cancer, squamous cell cancer and malignant melanoma. These skin cancers are serious but are quite rare (but not non-existent) in those with darker skin.

If skin cancer isn’t a big issue in patients with darker skin, then do they still need sun protection? Yes! Everyone should practice sun protection on a daily basis.