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Environment

These People Had No Clue What the Sun Did to Their Skin

by Caroline Pham

August 18, 2014
Still from Leveritt’s video

We have a range of terrible excuses for forgetting to put on sunscreen—from being in a rush, to not wanting to get our hands oily (there’s a spray for that, people), to believing that the sun’s rays are entirely blocked when it’s overcast. Whatever your defense, photographer Thomas Leveritt’s “How The Sun Sees You” video is about to put your flimsy explanations to shame.

Leveritt hit the streets of Brooklyn, NY, with a specialized camera, tapping passersbys to peer into his lens so he could capture their likeness under ultraviolet lighting. Leveritt then showed participants their UV-tinged portrait in a monitor, laying bare all the sun damage, or lack thereof, on their faces—freckles, sun spots, scars, you name it. The reactions were fairly consistent: confusion turned shock, mostly, but some looked on in revulsion.

Leveritt’s point is that different skins age at different speeds, but there are steps we all can take to protect ourselves. Leveritt had subjects smear themselves with sunscreen to emphasize its protective properties—under UV light, faces covered with sunscreen show up entirely black.

Little girl smeared with sunscreen under the UV light

With skin cancer still leading the pack as the most common form of cancer in the U.S., Leveritt's video should hardly be shocking. The fact that it is, shows how far we are from fully apprehending how vulnerable we are to the sun.

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