Summer means skin care!

It is a frequent occurrence to see a friend become fie shades darker overnight. Since Ames, Iowa doesn’t permit a trip to the sandy beach all year around, most girls at AHS seek tanning salons. Whatever the reason may be to look tanner, it has a stunning, positive effect: you get noticed, look prettier and slimmer. Or does it? What most people don’t realize is that a tan is our skin’s natural reaction to the sun’s rays. When exposed to an abundance of ultra-violet (UV) rays, skin cells’ DNA mutates, dies, and turns to a brown color. So why is having burned, dead skin considered attractive? The answer lies in pop culture and media. Fifty years ago, the fad was an obsession with white, pale skin. Many icons of the time, such as Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn, barely had a touch of color to their complexion. Nowadays, it is the opposite. In the short span between the years 1986 and 1996, the amount of those using tanning beds has tripled. As fads come and go, it’s important to stay healthy, especially when it can lead to something as serious as skin cancer. Although blondes, redheads, and people with freckles are more prone to the disease, the chances for the rest of us are not completely eliminated. Hispanics and African Americans are diagnosed with skin cancer as well, some of whom are only in their early twenties. Tanning bed users are put at an even higher risk, because the UVA rays they’re exposed to are 15 percent stronger than the sun’s rays. UVA rays are more permanent, as they penetrate the skin deeply below the epidermis, as opposed to UVB, which only harm the very top layer of skin. As the summer approaches, it gets harder to avoid the sun. After all, who wants to? Even though a dazzling pool tan may seem attractive in the short run, it has fatal effects in the long run. When a tanner’s skin is constantly damaged, reproducing cells grow back mutated in the form of moles, rashes, and other discolored abnormalities. Penetrating deep below the skin layer, UVA rays can easily escape into the bloodstream and infect other organs, leading to cancer. May is skin cancer awareness month, a good time to get in the habit of using sunscreen and other means of protection. Athletes spending hours outside, oftentimes getting too caught up in their actions to remember that a sunscreen with SPF 30 should be reapplied every three hours. Sunglasses are also useful in order to protect the retina. When out for a merry picnic this July, don’t forget to bring along a light hat, as it provides shade. All of these things also prevent heat exhaustion, which can lead to dehydration, fatigue, migraine, or even fever. Staying sun-safe is necessary. It may not seem like a priority right now, but as our generation ages and acquires saggy wrinkles as early as in our 30’s, we’ll start to regret laying out for hours on end.