About 20% of all Americans will be diagnosed with skin cancer by the time they hit 70, says the Skin Cancer Foundation. Skin cancer may form as a non-melanoma (bad) or melanoma (very bad) type of disease. Whatever it may be, one thing is certain – you definitely don’t want it. Worse, you may be inadvertently doing things to increase your risk. For starters, sitting out in the sun unprotected is instantly going to increase your odds of being diagnosed with a case of skin cancer. But, some less obvious reasons could lead you down a dangerous path. Here are 12 essential tips to bear in mind:
1. Getting your nails done
While you may not worry too much about getting your nails done at the salon, using UV rays emitted from the LED lamps at your nail salon for a short period of time could result in a life-threatening skin cancer diagnosis. This is what happened to a 20-year-old woman from Illinois, who was diagnosed with skin cancer. Her doctor said it was most likely caused by the regular gel manicures.
2. You aren’t eating enough veggies
Eating plenty of veggies isn’t just good for your health. It can help protect against cancer too. According to the National Cancer Institute, cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and kale are broken down into indoles and isothiocyanates – two key elements that have been shown to prevent cancer from developing. Veggies also keep your immune system healthy. This comes in handy when your body is fighting off illnesses and diseases.
3. You smoke
Most smokers likely assume that they are putting themselves at risk for lung cancer. However, skin cancer is a possibility too. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, inhaling toxins can increase your risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma on your lips by 52%. Since it affects 700,000 people in the U.S. each year, it is incredibly common.
4. You use a tanning bed
A vast amount of research has been conducted surrounding the dangers of tanning beds. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, people continue to use them at an alarming rate. Just one session increases your risk of melanoma by 20%, basal cell carcinoma by 29% and squamous cell carcinoma by 67%.
5. You don’t wear sunglasses
Sunglasses do more than keep the sun out of your eyes. They help protect your delicate eye area – including the very thin-skinned eyelids from skin cancer. Sunglasses should be worn all year round and anytime you are enjoying the sunshine. Opt for a pair that blocks 99 to 100% of those harmful rays.
6. You don’t wear enough SPF
If you think that SPF 35+ is going to be enough at the beach, you are mistaken. In a new study published in the Journal of the American of Academy of Dermatology, researchers found SPF 100+ is more protective against sunburns than SPF 50+. It is also essential that you reapply often. Bear in mind that the higher the strength doesn’t mean that it has a longer staying power.
7. You’re not protecting your skin from pollution
It’s not just the sun that can harm your complexion. Pollution is just as bad for you, as it is for the environment. Pollution can cause uneven skin tone, accelerated aging and skin cancer. To make sure it doesn’t affect you, wash off your skin and wear sunscreen every day. Put it on immediately in the morning and be sure to spring for one that contains antioxidants.
8. You always sit by sunny windows
Whether you are in the car or not, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation, sitting in front of a sunny window doesn’t just lead to wrinkles, it could also lead to skin cancer down the line.
9. You don’t wear sunscreen on flights
People tend to feel safe from the sun in a plane, despite traveling six miles closer to it. However, according to one expert, that can really do some damage. Dermatologist Doris Day says “The fact is, flying at 30,000 feet [for 60 minutes] can be as dangerous as 20 minutes in a tanning bed.” So, if you’re not wearing any sunscreen, pull down the shade.
10. You rely on the SPF in your makeup for protection
It’s nice that your face makeup has the added bonus of SPF. But don’t solely depend on that to protect your skin. Many products only have an SPF of 15 and since the American Academy of Dermatology recommends at least 30 SPF on a daily basis, you might need to apply extra before getting ready for the day.
11. You’re not careful with your spray tan
Getting a spray tan is a better option than getting a real tan. However, after your appointment be extra cautious. You have a higher risk of free radical damage from those UV rays for up to 24 hours after bronzing yourself. After a day, you’ll be fine to apply sunscreen as usual.
12. You’re wearing shiny lipsticks
You may want to rethink the high-shine, glossy lipsticks. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, they basically do the same thing as putting baby oil on your body does – you become a magnet for UV rays that can burn and damage your skin. Opaque lipstick with SPF 15+ is a better option.