Skin Safety

UMass Amherst has been recognized as a Skin Smart Campus by The National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention.

Ensuring the well-being of our community, we are providing a safe and healthy learning and living environment on and off campus, pledging to keep indoor tanning devices off our campus and our affiliated buildings. We also promote skin cancer prevention policies and education.

The Indoor Tan-Free Skin Smart Campus Initiative is sponsored by The National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention in response to the 2014 US Surgeon General's Call to Action to Prevent Skin Cancer, which concluded that there is a strong association between increased risk of skin cancer and indoor tanning. Ultraviolet (UV) radiation exposure from indoor tanning is completely avoidable, which allows for interventions to help reduce skin cancer-related illnesses and deaths. Numerous studies have found that skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States, with melanoma as one of the most common cancers diagnosed among young adults. According to The International Agency for Research on Cancer Working Group, the use of indoor tanning facilities before the age of 35 increases the risk for melanoma by 75%.


Skin Cancer

Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States. The two most common skin cancers, basal cell & squamous cell carcinomas, are highly curable but can be disfiguring and costly. Melanoma, the third more common skin cancer, can be deadly. UV radiation from the sun or a tanning device can cause dangerous, lasting damage to your skin. 

Common Risk Factors for Skin Cancer:

  • Light skin or skin that burns, freckles, or reddens easily
    • Note: skin of all colors can get skin cancer
  • Large number of moles
  • Personal or family history of skin cancer
  • History of sun exposure/sunburns, especially in early life
  • Excessive sun exposure
  • Indoor tanning
    • The average tanning bed produces 2 to 10 times more UVA radiation than the sun.
    • Using tanning beds before the age of 35 increases a person's risk of developing melanoma by 75%.

Skin of Color

  • Even if you have a darker skin tone, always tan or rarely burn, you can still get skin cancer. 
  • Skin cancer is often diagnosed later in people of color, making it harder to treat. 
  • Melanoma in people of color can occur on the palms of the hands, soles of the feet, under the nail (subungual) and in the nail areas–it’s important to show your provider any changes you notice.

No matter your skin tone, UV radiation can lead to skin damage, premature aging, and hyperpigmentation. Protecting your skin is important!

Preventing UV Light Exposure

Most skin cancers are caused by exposure to UV light and can be prevented with sun safety practices.

  • Seek shade
    • Find shade under a dense tree canopy, shade sail, or pavilion. Carry a sun umbrella for personal shade. Use a pop-up UV shelter when at the beach or park. When possible, stay out of the sun from 10am - 4pm, when UV radiation is the strongest. 
  • Wear sunscreen
    • It is recommended to wear broad spectrum UVA & UVB, SPF 30 (or greater). Reapplication is necessary every 2 hours and after swimming, sweating, or toweling off. Most people do not put on enough sunscreen - aim for 1 oz spread evenly over all visible skin.
  • Wear protective clothing, such as:
    • Long sleeves/pants with a dense weave or built-in UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor), a wide-brimmed hat, closed-toe shoes and socks that cover the ankle.
  • Wear sunglasses
    • Choose sunglasses with a UV protective coating. Sunglasses protect the delicate skin around our eyes and reduce the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration.

UV Index - Know Before You Go!

Consider checking the UV index, which is often found on your preferred weather app. Dermatologists recommend the above sun safety measures when the UV index is 3 and above. As levels approach 6 and greater, it is best to limit your time in the sun. 


Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer. However, when detected early, melanoma is highly treatable. Know your skin - if you see any of these warning signs, show them to your provider right away. It's recommended that you perform a self-exam each month. You can ask a partner or friend to look at your back and scalp. 

It's important to conduct self exams; please visit how to do a skin self-exam for step by step instructions. 

ABCDEs of Melanoma

Additional Resources

National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention

Skin Smart Campus

Skin Cancer Foundation

American Academy of Dermatology: How to Prevent Skin Cancer

American Academy of Dermatology: Dangers of Indoor Tanning

Impact Melanoma

Impact Melanoma (video): Young melanoma survivors recount where they were exposed to UV rays & ask you to join them in the the No-Tanning Pledge


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