There's No Such Thing As A Healthy Tan: Photos Show The Shocking Effects Of Sun Damage On The Skin

Exposure to the sun is essential for getting your daily dose of vitamin D, but prolonged exposure - tanning on purpose, in other words - always carries consequences.

It can be really hard for us to equate our healthy, glowing complexions with the fact that we've subjected it to a lot of sun damage, but these photos are a shortcut to seeing the real price of tanning.

New York-based model-turned-photographer Cara Phillips shot her subjects under UV light, which revealed the real story of their skin.

Talking to HuffPost UK Lifestyle about what inspired the project, she said: "While working on my first body of work, Singular Beauty, which explored the psychological experience of the cosmetic surgeon’s office, I came across UV images of patients. Many medi-spas and dermatologists take ultraviolet photographs to show patients their ‘future’ skin.

"Even though there is no guarantee that this unseen damage will ever appear, beauty professionals and doctors still use these images to sell treatments to their clients and patients. I found these medical images extremely compelling - not just because of the novelty of seeing people's skin in a new way--but because of their stillness and the emotion they provoke."

Story continues below the slideshow:

Cara Phillips' 'Ultraviolet Beauties'

The Real Price Of Tanning

Cara's first picture was a self-portrait.

"As a woman whose life has been extremely influenced by beauty norms, first as a model and then as a makeup artist, I felt that I had to have that experience first. I wanted to know what it felt like, and I found it to be an extremely empowering experience.

"To find beauty in an image which revealed so many flaws in my own skin was a powerful experience. In general most people's first reaction is to be surprised by their level of "damage" but then they almost always start talking about how beautiful the photograph is. I find this very interesting; in general when we look at images of ourselves we only judge the image based on how we think we look in it - no matter how great the image is."

Rather than curate a special shoot, Cara wanted to open the opportunity to the public. It also meant she got a wide range of people from all walks of life.

"I set up a studio on the streets of New York City, in Union Square and in the Meatpacking district, and photographed whoever was willing to sit in my chair. The idea was to offer pedestrians a chance to see their possible future and reconsider the fear of flaws that pervades our society."

Visit Cara's gallery Robert Morat here.