SPF, which stands for “sun protection factor,” hasn’t always been the skincare ground rule it is today. In fact, when tanned skin became the beauty standard for white people in the 1950s, the earliest SPF products were more about tanning than protecting. Then, there’s the tanning bed craze that swept this country in the ’70s and ’80s, offering a shortcut from hours of “laying out” to achieve a full-body glow (or should we say burn?) in just 15 to 30 minutes.
If you practiced good sun protection and avoided tanning beds when you were younger, good for you—you’re more likely to boast a youthful complexion and may be better positioned to dodge skin cancer, too. But what if you were in the baby oil or tanning booth brigade? Is it too late to save your skin?