This mum's skin cancer selfie will remind you why sun safety isn't a joke.

Image: Tawny Willoughby (Twitter).

Although the ‘slip, slop, slap’ message has been drummed into us since we were kids, it can be easy to underestimate just how important these sun safety measures are — especially in the cooler months. ‘It’s not even that bright outside today,’ we tell ourselves. ‘My foundation is probably going to block out most of the sun anyway.’

Some people go one step further by sun baking for extended periods, or making regular appointments to use solariums. Tawny Willoghby, 27, is one woman who’s learned the dangers of excessive UV exposure the hard way.

RELATED: Look closely. This is what the sun is really doing to your skin.

When she was a teenager, Willoughby used tanning beds four to five times a week to maintain her tan. Now her skin is paying the price. At age 21, she was diagnosed with her first skin cancer, and in the six years since she’s had five basal cell carcinomas and one squamous cell carcinoma.

Tawney's skin cancer selfie has gone viral.

Now, the Alabama nurse has given the world an insight into what skin cancer treatment can look like. She posted the above photo of her blistered, scarred face on Facebook last month to motivate others to be sun smart.

It's since been shared more than 50,000 times — and also reported to Facebook for depicting "graphic violence" by someone who clearly missed the point.

RELATED: Are you applying your sunscreen correctly with your makeup?

"This is what skin cancer treatment can look like. Wear sunscreen and get a spray tan. You only get one skin and you should take care of it. Learn from other people's mistakes," Willoughby writes.

"I go to the dermatologist every six to 12 months and usually have a skin cancer removed at each checkup. I'm very thankful to not have had melanoma! Skin cancer is not always moles, only one of mine have been a mole. Get any suspicious, new and growing spot checked out. Anything that doesn't heal, possibly bleeds on and off and crusts. The sooner you find it the less likely it will leave a disfiguring scar or grow deep enough to metastasise." (Post continues after gallery.)

Willoughby has undergone a number of treatments for her skin cancers — the one pictured involved a cream called Aladara, or imiquimod. She's also had  Curettage and Electrodessication, Cryosurgery — i.e. freezing with liquid nitrogen — Surgical Excision and Photodynamic Therapy (PDT).


RELATED: Spot the difference: Harmless mole or potential skin cancer?

Although these procedures alone are enough to stun you into being more diligent with your sunscreen, it's Willoughby's comments about her son Kayden that really send the message home.

"Don't let tanning prevent you from seeing your children grow up. That's my biggest fear now that I have a two-year-old little boy of my own," she writes.

Willoughby and her son Kayden (via CNN)

Willoughby's cautionary story (and photo) isn't the only one that's caught attention in recent days. Earlier this week, Australian actor Hugh Jackman revealed he's had four skin cancers removed in the past 18 months.

“I go every three months for checkups. It’s the new normal for me. My doctor says I’ll likely have more and if that’s your cross to bear in life, you should be so lucky,” the X-Men star, who has recently launched a line of children's sunscreen, told People magazine.

RELATED: Hugh Jackman reveals he’s had four skin cancers removed in 18 months.

“It’s always a bit of a shock just hearing the word ‘cancer’. Being an Australian it’s a very common thing. I never wore sunscreen growing up so I was a prime candidate for it."

Channel 9 presenter Georgie Gardner has also done her part, sharing a photo of her face after having a squamous cell carcinoma cut out of her upper lip to serve as a "gentle reminder" to be sun safe.

Hugh Jackman and Georgie Gardner

The takeaway from these stories is an important one: sun safety isn't a joke. Keep sunscreen (or at the very last, beauty products with SPF) in your bathroom cupboards and handbag, and actually make the effort to wear it and reapply it.

Also have your skin checked by an expert regularly, and be aware of the signs of possible skin cancer so you can monitor them — we have a guide for spotting cancerous moles, which is a helpful place to start.

RELATED: Are you using the right sunscreen?

For more in-depth information about skin cancer and sun damage, visit the Cancer Council. A tan might look lovely with bright lipstick, but is it worth permanent damage, painful treatments and potentially very serious health consequences? No way.

Have you ever had a skin cancer removed? What was your experience like?