The cast of the reality show Jersey Shore popularized the motto “gym, tan, laundry” (GTL for those in the know).  While the show places an importance on looking your best (or something like that), the emphasis on tanning can be a dangerous message. In fact, the U.S. Department of Health says that ultraviolet radiation, used in indoor tanning, is a proven human carcinogen. Nearly 30 million people tan indoors every year and they can receive as much as 12 times the annual UVA dose compared to regular sun exposure. In recognition of Skin Cancer Awareness Month, this May it’s time to make some changes. If you are tanorexic, make it a point to learn preventative measures against the sun while visiting the spa.

“As a melanoma survivor, I can personally attest to the importance of regular screenings and arming yourself with the tools offered at spas to protect yourself,” said ISPA President Lynne McNees. “It’s particularly important for teens to hear about the harmful effects of the sun at an early age, and the spa is the perfect place for them to learn how to properly care for their skin.”

Indoor tanning isn’t the only danger; too much time at the beach, pool or anywhere outdoors can lead to dangerous results. More than one million cases of skin cancer are diagnosed annually making it the most common form of cancer in the U.S. Even more disparaging news – up to 90 percent of the visible changes commonly attributed to aging are caused by the sun. It’s time to be proactive about sun protection, and now more than ever, spas are making it their responsibility to help you with products and treatments aimed to prevent and repair sun damage.

“Skin Cancer Awareness Month is a great opportunity for everyone to think about their skin and how to protect it,” said Dr. Brent Bauer, director of the Complementary and Integrative Medicine Program at the Mayo Clinic and ISPA’s Medical Advisor. “It’s especially important if you have increased risk factors for skin cancer such as fair skin, a history of sunburns or lots of moles.”

Are you addicted to being tan? You’re not alone, but it doesn’t make it any safer. If you’re going using a a tanning lotion like Maui Babealways make sure you use SPF protection too. Try Skin MD Natural Shielding Lotion with SPF 15 or higher—it’s a dermatologist-recommended, all natural, hydrating sunblock that does the job well. It kept my skin safe for ten straight days in Hawaii over the holidays, and I recommend if if you are looking for a reliable, nice-smelling sunblock that wont clog your pores. Akina Salon & Spa recommends BioElements for the best skin protection.

How did you weigh in? Last night on Facebook we asked what you do to protect your skin; read below for some inspiring stories warnings from your fellow Facebookers who’ve been there. Share your tips and stories in the comments—no matter what it is, May is the month to let others benefit from what you have to say about sun protection!

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