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That's what the actor told a roomful of people last night at the Skin Cancer Foundation Gala, an evening recognizing achievement in educating the public about sun protection and skin cancer prevention.

Ellen Seidman
October 22, 2014

Taye Diggs has one suggestion for the pale faces of the world who use tanning beds: "Stop trying to be black, people!" That's what he told a roomful of people last night at the 2014 Skin Cancer Foundation Gala, an evening recognizing achievement in educating the public about sun protection and skin cancer prevention. Several Health staffers were there because our story, Are You Getting A Good Skin Check?, was nominated for a Skin Sense award.

Tanning continues to be a significant public health issue. This weekend, I drove by a tanning salon in New Jersey and had the same reaction I always do when I see one of them: Why would anyone in their right mind go to one of these places? Research shows that tanning beds raise the risk for melanoma (the most deadly form of skin cancer) by up to 75 percent. 

Even if you've never set foot in one of those fake-bake salons, though, skin checks are still critical. That includes getting an annual one from a dermatologist, and doing regular self-exams. Taye Diggs noted that he used to think that because he was black he wasn't at risk for skin cancer, but as he read up he discovered that people of color are still vulnerable to it. Sting performed, and Diggs only had compliments for his lack of a tan ("He's the coolest white person I know!") and how great he looks for his age, 63. "He uses sunscreen!" he raved.

The other key way to keep yourself safe from skin cancer, of course, is sunscreen. Lela Coffey, Brand Director for North America of Olay (one of the night's honorees), pointed out that women are well aware of SPF-ing when they're going to the pool, doing yard work, or are otherwise outside for prolonged periods of time but forget about incidental sun exposure, the kind you get when you're driving or even just sitting in your office. Safe skin starts with putting on sunscreen daily, and the no-brainer way to do that is to use a moisturizer with SPF. This is also a simple way to stave off wrinkles; SPF really is the best beauty cream out there.

Taye Diggs has a way of making everything seem sexy, including suncare. Here's to the ultimate sexiness: Loving the skin you're in.

RELATED: 15 Biggest Sunscreen Mistakes

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