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"My tanning addiction nearly killed me"

22nd July 2015

You may have seen this selfie of Tawny Willoughby on your Facebook newsfeed recently. The photo has been shared more than 69,000 times on the social media site, brutally displaying the devastating effects the sun can have on our skin.

Tawny Willoughby's tan scarred face

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The tanning addict was only 21 when she was first diagnosed with skin cancer. This photo displays the now 27-year-old's her face whilst undergoing medical treatments to rid her of the disease. The selfie is captioned “If anyone needs a little motivation to not lay on a tanning bed or in the sun, here ya go.

Tawny lives in Alabama, and despite having no family history of skin cancer, has been diagnosed with the condition 6 times. The nurse told Now Magazine ‘when I walk past girls sunbathing on the beach, I just want to say: “Stop it! You're killing yourself.”’ Her tanning addiction began at the mere age of 15, resulting in her using a sunbed four or five times a week, as her family had a personal one in their house. Eventually Tawny couldn't go three days without either using the sunbed or tanning outside, despite her naturally pale complexion. Tawny claims that her addiction stemmed from wanting to fit in, with her sisters having darker skin than herself, and her believing boys preferred girls with a sun kissed glow.

Lessons learned

It was six years ago that she first received the horrific diagnosis, in a spot she had been concerned about for a year. Now, whenever the 27-year-old notices an abnormality with her skin she asks her doctor to check it, claiming that her cancers are “usually like moles.” Her 6 diagnosis’ have prompted an enormous lifestyle change for Tawny and her husband; with beach vacations being a thing of the past and the education of the dangers of sun exposure being a necessity for their two-year-old son Kayden.

Despite her skin now being covered in scars, Tawny wants to educate people to not make the same mistakes that she has. She claims ‘I don't try to hide my scars, but I do cover them and apply lots of sunscreen when I'm in the sun,’ she says. ‘I have had people ask me about the cancer scars - it's a great way to start the conversation about sun safety.’


Here at sk:n we hold the utmost importance in sun protection, not only for anti-ageing purposes, but also for the prevention of skin cancers similar to Tawny’s. We provide products specifically designed to not only protect the skin from the sun's harmful rays, but also to soothe skin irritated from over-exposure. One thing is for certain, having a sun kissed complexion is definitely not worth the devastating effects that can be caused as a result of sun exposure.

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