As the saying goes, pictures speak louder than words—and this “How the Sun Sees You” 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 5.4 million skin cancers in 3.3 million people are diagnosed annually in the United States. 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 uses 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 lies beneath seemingly healthy skin. He captures women and men of all ages as they watch themselves in regular sunlight vs. the ultraviolet lens. We see 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 have 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 asks the participants to apply sunscreen while looking into the ultraviolet light. The sunscreen, which looks white in sunlight, looks black in the ultraviolet camera because it effectively blocks UV rays.
The lesson (once again, but maybe everyone is listening this time): Wear a broad-spectrum UVA/UVB sunscreen 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 sunscreen 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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