The Only Way Is Essex sisters Sam and Billie Faiers have joined fellow co-star Maria Fowler in speaking out against sunbed use by supporting Cancer Research UK’s SunSmart campaign, ‘R UV UGLY?’.

The campaign calls on young people to face the invisible damage being inflicted on their skin in pursuit of a tan, by offering ‘Two Free Skin Assesments’ at sk:n clinics across the UK.  The idea is that people bring a fellow sunbed user with them, whether that’s a friend, mum or sister, so they can see the hidden damage lurking beneath the skin’s surface.

Ahead of the New Year party season with young people potentially heading to sunbeds for the big night, the reality stars have spoken out about the damage that sunbed use can do to both appearance and health.  Sam and Billie Faiers have recently seen their friend, Jerri Turko, diagnosed with skin cancer at the age of 21 after using sunbeds since she was 15, which has shocked them both into a ‘no sunbed’ policy.

Billie Faiers said of her support for the campaign: “Some people think that having a tan is really glamorous but the public needs to know the truth about the dangers of using sunbeds. It’s natural that we all want to look our best, but using sunbeds is not the answer as their UV rays pose serious risks to both our looks and long-term health.
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“Speaking from the personal experience of seeing a close friend diagnosed with skin cancer, I’d advise anyone using sunbeds to stop. The R UV UGLY? campaign offers sunbed users an opportunity to see what damage may lie beneath their mirror image and make them change their ways.”

With figures worryingly showing that using a sunbed for the first time before the age of 35 increases the risk of malignant melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer by 75 per cent, the TOWIE stars have united against sunbed use. Research has also shown that using a sunbed once a month or more can increase the risk of melanoma by more than 50 per cent. Melanoma incidence rates in Britain have more than quadrupled over the last 30 years. It is the second most common cancer amongst 15-34 year olds.

Cancer Research UK has teamed up with sk:n for the R UV UGLY? campaign to offer the public ‘Two Free Skin Assessments’ that would normally cost £25 each from now until the end of February 2012. By using the latest high-tech, specialist skin-scanning technology, the consultation will highlight the hidden damage lurking beneath the skin’s surface that is caused by overexposure to UV, both from sunbeds and the sun.

Chris Lunn, SunSmart campaign manager at Cancer Research UK, said: “As the New Year party season approaches, we worry that people might be putting their health at risk by visiting tanning salons to achieve a tan. Often the consequences aren’t seen for years so we want to help give people a sneak preview of what their future face looks like and if they must have a tan, encourage them to switch to a safer alternative by using fake tan.

“We want people to come and have an exclusive skin assessment so they can ask themselves if they R UV UGLY?”

Cancer Research UK’s SunSmart R UV UGLY? campaign is offering free skin assessments at all UK sk:n clinics. To book call 0800 822 3037 quoting R UV UGLY? or text R UV UGLY? to 63757 (standard rates apply).