Sunless tanning to avoid cancer

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Make sure the sunscreen is waterproof. Here from the pool at Cal State San Marcos. Photo credit: Lars Tangen-Ackerman

There are more new cases of skin cancer in America each year than breast, prostate, lung and colon cancers combined. Over the past 30 years, more people have had skin cancer than all other cancers combined, and one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in the course of a lifetime, according to SkinCancer.org.

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Avoid the sun during midday to keep your skin healthy. Photo credit: Lars Tangen-Ackerman

Several states, including California have an 18 year age limit on using indoor tanning beds.

“Tanning beds are very dangerous because ultraviolet rays contribute to premature aging of the skin, and worst of all, the risk of skin cancer,” said Monique Moskowitz, owner of local spray tan company Organica Tans.

The most effective way to avoid the risk of developing skin cancer is to avoid getting a sunburn. Also, avoid being in direct sunlight between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., and apply a high SPF sunscreen frequently and liberally.

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Make sure the sunscreen is waterproof. Here from the pool at Cal State San Marcos. Photo credit: Lars Tangen-Ackerman

Elyssa Berger, 52, of Calabasas, gets spray tans regularly at Organica Tans.

“I started getting spray tans because I had melanoma and my doctor actually said it was probably from a sunburn when I was younger, as they grow for years before being caught,” Berger said.

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Elyssa Berger, 52, from Calabasas started getting spray tans after she developed melanoma. Photo courtesy of Elyssa Berger.

Berger’s doctor also told her to stay out of direct sunlight to prevent further damage. According to Berger, the best way to get a healthy tan is to use a sunless tanning method.

“I hope [sharing my story] can help young people see the dangers of the sun sooner than I did,” Berger said.

About 90 percent of skin aging is caused by the sun, according to SkinCancer.org.

“A spray tan is 100 percent healthier than getting a natural tan because there are no ultraviolet rays coming in contact with your skin, nor are there any harmful chemicals or ingredients that can put your health at risk,” Moskowitz said. “Besides having a gorgeous glow to their skin, our clients love it when we spray-tan them because they know they are not damaging their skin, risking their health, and they have zero health concerns or worries,” Moskowitz said.

Do-it-yourself tanning products are usually affordable and widely available. There are several products available at pharmacies and beauty stores that offer an alternative to indoor tanning beds, such as tanning towelettes, spray tan in a can and gradual tanning creams.

Berger said exfoliating your skin before getting a spray tan is essential to obtaining a long lasting and good looking tan. Moskowitz recommends moisturizing twice a day to make the spray tan last as long as possible.

“The tip for a healthy tan is to find a way to be tan without the sun,” Berger said. “It’s great and we need vitamin D, but there is nothing healthy about tanning in the sun.”