Notes on Sun and Skin News

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Despite the unsettling fact that the number of skin cancer cases in the United States is growing at an alarming rate, it seems Americans are still unwilling to give up their summer tans. So unwavering are certain citizens’ allegiance to their bronzed bods that the government had to enact a special tanning tax to help to keep Snooki sycophants away from ultraviolet light. I doubt it will work. What’s worse: even the pale few who take great measures to prevent skin cancer and premature aging are still at risk. Even I, a girl who was diagnosed with Melanoma some years ago, accidentally acquire a ‘natural’ glow on top of my spray-tan color. I used to think the cancer came from not lathering up with SPF as diligently as I could have between volleyball matches, but recent news is shedding light on what turns out to be a set of rather outdated guidelines: my trusty sunscreen might be the very thing that’s failing me. Luckily, there are measures being taken to rectify the botched FDA guidelines—including a helpful site that tracks changes in your skin—to strengthen our front lines in the war against UVA/UVB rays. Here are some recent notes from the battle against sun damage.

Perhaps there’s a class action lawsuit in the FDA’s future? “In the States, we are selling an obsolete generation of sun protection,” Lionel De Benetti, the president of French cosmetics company Clarins Laboratoires tells the New York Times. The Times article, “UVA Reform: It’s Not PDQ,” outlines the fact that our sunscreen regulations—packaging, rating—have not been updated since 1978, a time when our knowledge of sun exposure was primitive at best. According to Wikipedia, tanning also happened to become a cultural phenomenon in the 70s, with Mattel introducing the first Malibu Barbie (complete with tanned skin, sunglasses, and her very own bottle of sun tanning lotion) and the “rise [of] tanning beds.” Naturally, the FDA’s lack of initiative in updating the regulations for sunscreen has led people to believe that the agency is favoring sunscreen manufacturers. Seriously, speak to your dermatologist for their recommendations, and try to seek shade whenever possible. You can thank the FDA for having to revoke your summer pool pass.

Snooki Say Relax On July 1st, a 10% tax increase on indoor tanning went into effect as part of the U.S. Health Care Reform Bill. According to, “The tax is expected to raise $2.7 billion over 10 years, according to a March 10 estimate by the Joint Committee on Taxation, and will help pay for the estimated $940 billion overhaul of health care.” All pluses there, though some tanning aficionados are naturally pissed. “I don’t know why the government wants to tax something that is actually good for you,” Linda J. of the East Village told me while waiting to tan at Beach Bum Tanning on 14th Street. “The sun rays prevent depression, and provides necessary vitamin D.” Perhaps the revenue should also fund education programs on health and denial?

Social media for moles Some people are taking matters into their own hands by seeking proactive methods, like regular dermatologist visits and making use of the skin analyzing site, Skin of Mine. The site helps you to monitor and share changes in skin tone, moles, wrinkles, and texture. Use it to see if your new bottle of youth serum is as effective on your skin as it was on draining your bank account, or export ‘before and after’ shots of freckles and moles to your friends, or, more appropriately, your derm.

SPF for techies Coppertone’s “MyUVAlert” app uses a “Custom UV Index” based on the iPhone’s GPS chip and your ZIP code to provide you with “daily UV Index advisories informing you on how strong the UV rays are in your region.” It also offers a personalized “Suncare Profile” that analyzes your skin tone and family history to provide users with SPF products that are best suited for your skin type and your planned activities for the day. Best of all, the app sets “Suncare Reminders” to ping you whenever it’s time to reapply.