As the saying goes, pictures can speak louder than words—and this “What The Sun Sees” video speaks volumes. Dermatologists have been warning us for years that unprotected sun exposure causes premature aging and skin cancer. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, more than 3.5 million skin cancers in over two million people are diagnosed annually. But despite scary statistics, there are still many defiant sun worshippers and those who still don’t realize the danger of not being diligent about sun protection.
If you’re still in denial about the risks of UV exposure, this sun damage video will change your mind.
Artist Thomas Leveritt used a sun damage video camera equipped with an ultraviolet lens (similar technology to what dermatologists use to assess sun damage) to capture what’s invisible to the naked eye—shocking sun damage that lies beneath seemingly healthy skin. He captures women and men of all ages as they watched themselves in regular sunlight vs. the ultraviolet lens, which revealed an alarming amount of dark spots, freckles, wrinkles and pigmentation irregularities. People look completely stunned when they see themselves in this “light,” discovering for the first time that, yes, they are not immune to sun damage. The exception? Children had practically the same flawless skin in both cameras, because everyone is born with good skin. It’s up to us to be responsible and protect it.
To demonstrate the effectiveness of sunscreen, Leveritt asked the participants to apply sunscreen while looking into the ultraviolet light. The sunscreen, which looks white in sunlight, looked black in the ultraviolet camera because it effectively blocks UV rays. The lenses of sunglasses also looked black because they effectively block out UV rays.
The lesson (once again, but maybe everyone is listening this time): Wear a broad-spectrum UVA / UVB sun protection with an SPF 15 or higher every day, rain or shine, winter or summer. Check out our best sunscreen picks. You need a full ounce to cover your body. It should feel like you’re really slathering every exposed part of your body with it. Apply it at least 15 minutes before heading outside, because some take that long to start working. And don’t forget to reapply every two hours. Finally, get screened by a dermatologist for skin cancer once a year.
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WORDS: Rachel Hayes