It's that time of year again: the cooler weather is giving way to sunlight and warmth throughout the majority of the country. But outdoor sunbathing is not without risk, even if you use sun cream.
While we all want that sun-kissed glow, it's crucial to remember that a tan is an indication of skin damage and that increased melanin production is your body's natural response to protect you from future sun exposure. Read on to discover how to tan in the sun safely.
Why Tanning May Be Dangerous
Because of the Vitamin D exposure, tanning and sunbathing may feel nice and possibly improve mood. However, tanning carries hazards, particularly if you don't use sunscreen.
A tan is an indication of skin damage in and of itself. Because the skin redistributes melanin to protect itself, it appears darker. The following are some of the dangers of tanning:
- Skin cancers such as melanoma and others
- Heat rash
- Premature skin ageing
- Eye damage
- Suppression of the immune system
The most serious sun hazard we should be concerned about is skin cancer. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, around 90% of skin cancers are caused by the sun's harmful rays.
Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a “healthy tan”. The only true way to tan “safely” is to avoid the sun and apply a fake tan. Though this won’t stop any of us from laying out in the rays and getting a sun-kissed body, so here is how to tan as safely as you can.
But first, a note on Vitamin D.
How Your Body Gets Vitamin D
There is no such thing as healthy tanning, as we just discussed, but there is healthy moderation in everything. Exposing ourselves to UVB rays is the primary method of our bodies making Vitamin D.
You might be surprised to learn that if you eat a balanced diet, you only actually need about 20 minutes of sun exposure every day to get enough Vitamin D. If you have darker skin tones, you may need to spend longer in the sun, though.
Vitamin D, also known as the sunshine vitamin, is amazing. It helps our body absorb calcium and prevent high blood pressure, headaches, restless sleep, low moods, Seasonal Affective Disorder, Parkinson's disease, arthritis, diabetes, heart disease and more! This is definitely something you want to soak up.
Top Tips For Safe Tanning
Because we all know how alluring a good tan can be, here are some guidelines for keeping your sun exposure as safe as possible.
Slather On The Sun Cream
Even if you're wearing sunscreen, you can still get a tan. It all relies on the SPF's strength. Because sunscreen does not prevent all UV rays, you can still tan while wearing it, regardless of the SPF. For example, you can tan when wearing SPF 50 sunscreen.
Simply put, the SPF number indicates how long your skin may be exposed to direct sunlight before becoming red or sunburned. However, don't simply rely on SPF; look for the term "wide spectrum" on the bottle, which says it will protect you from both UVA (ageing) and UVB (burning) rays.
Also, check the UVA star rating. These show the SPF rating, which can vary from 1 to 5 stars (minimum protection to ultra protection). Needless to say, we suggest you get the highest star rating you can.
Know Your Tan Limit
If you didn't know, your skin hits a tanning cut-off point when it can no longer create melanin (the tanning pigment); therefore, lounging by the pool all day won't give you a darker glow.
Everyone's melanin cut-off is different, ranging from two to three hours or even less if you have fair skin. Following that, you're simply exposing your skin to the risk of UV damage. Between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m, the sun is at its strongest, so be especially cautious around this time.
Whilst you're at it, remember to seek some shade. Taking breaks from the sun reduces UV intensity and your risk of sunburn, resulting in a healthier and longer-lasting tan.
Avoid The Added Fake Tan
Combining your fake tan and SPF in one product may sound like a fantastic idea, but be aware that the component in fake tan (DHA) causes the SPF to break down.
It's highly likely that all of the protective SPF will have broken down by the time the product has shipped from its warehouse and arrived in your suitcase.
This is also why you should fake tan at least 24 hours before going out in the sun, as adding SPF on a fresh tan can cause the formula to break down.
Always Stay Away From Tanning Beds
No matter how quickly you want a tan, stay away from the sunbed. Tanning beds or tanning booths present many more risks to your body than sitting outside and tanning in the sun because they expose your skin to high levels of UVA and UVB rays.
Tanning beds release UVA radiation that is up to three times stronger than UVA rays seen in natural sunlight. UVB intensity may even approach that of full sun.
If you’re looking for a quick fix, then fake tanning is your best option. Read our complete guide on fake tanning to ensure the perfect summer glow.
Add On Some After Sun
If you've got your skin burned, you'll want to soothe it right away to avoid blisters and further inflammation. With hydrated skin, you'll be able to keep the tan you've been dreaming after for so long.
While it may be tempting to apply an after-sun, many of these products have a high proportion of alcohol, which means they will dry out your skin, even more, irritate it, and cause you to lose your tan even faster.
Instead, opt for some aloe vera gel instead. With an immediate cooling effect on the skin, it’s a favourite for post-sun skincare.
Remember, when it comes to tanning in the sun, you’re always putting yourself at risk. But if you slap on the sun cream, seek shade, and take breaks, you should be able to get that summer glow safely.