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My mother and her sisters, on the other hand, have extremely light complexions. They turn as red as lobsters with just a few kisses of sunlight. It wasn’t until I was a bit older and outside in my aunt and uncle’s pool all summer that my mom would tell them to make me put sun screen on.
The amount of melanin, a pigment chemical in peoples’ skin, determines if they have light or darker complexions. It also plays a direct role in the risk for skin cancer according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. Melanoma is the fifth most common cancer in the United States. While it accounts for less than two percent of all skin cancer, it causes the majority of skin cancer deaths.
As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tells us, the risk for melanoma is different for different ethnicities. Caucasians have the greatest risk. Their risk is three to five times higher than Native Americans and Asian/Pacific Islanders, and 15 to 25 times higher than Latinos and African-Americans.
While a darker complexion allows some protection, the important bottom-line is that people of color can still develop melanoma.
As the largest organ on our bodies, it’s hard to ignore the look and feel of your skin over time. Regardless of your skin color or amount of melanin, you can take steps to protect your skin and keep it healthy. Here are a few.
Show your skin a little TLC to help to prevent wrinkles and age spots and other skin problems. It will also lower your risk for skin cancer.
Smoking makes your skin look older. It narrows the tiny blood vessels in the skin. With less blood flow, your skin doesn’t get the nourishment it needs. It also depletes the skin of oxygen and nutrients important for healthy skin and its ability to heal.
Be gentle with your skin. Although your skin care process is good, it might take a toll on your skin. Here are a few things that you can do. Bathe with warm water. Chose a natural soap. Pat yourself dry. And don’t forget to moisturize.
Drink plenty of water to keep your skin hydrated. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins. Rich in vitamins, natural anti-oxidants and essential fatty-acids, they help keep skin healthy.
Your skin in sensitive. Uncontrolled stress can trigger breakouts and other skin problems. Give your skin and mood a healthy boost by exercising, getting enough sleep, watching a funny movie or listening to your favorite music. They all help keep stress under wraps.
Do you have any tried-and-true routines to keep your skin healthy and glowing? Tell us in the comments.
Originally published 5/18/2018; Revised 2019, 2022
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