A revolutionary digital camera that photographs instant images of skin damage may prove to be wake-up call for those who spend hours sunbathing on the beach, thinking a tan is a fashionable accessory.
The camera, the only one of its type in Australia, is being used as part of a groundbreaking Queensland University of Technology project to investigate damage caused by sunbaking.
It has the ability to reveal damage to the lower layers of facial skin as black areas- highlighting the risk of skin cancer.
When used on a group of 14-year-olds from Brisbane's Dakabin State High School recently, many students were shocked to find that their skin age was actually 25.
Professor Michael Kimlin, of QUT's AusSun Research Laboratory, said teenagers often believed they were invincible.
"Unfortunately young people still spend hours sunbaking on the beach and think a tan is a fashionable accessory," the Courier Mail quoted him, as saying.
"These photos showed them that wrinkles, sun spots and blotches are already starting because the sun has caused changes in the lower layers of their skin.
"The benefit of the new camera is that people can see the damage there and then, and have irrefutable evidence that not protecting their skin is having consequences.
"None of these students were using sunscreen, so seeing their faces with all the black areas gave them a reason to rethink their attitude," he added.