Getting a tan is one of the best parts about summer, but unfortunately, it’s not one of the best things for your skin. Before you decide to lay out in the sun for hours, or visit an indoor tanning salon, know that a tan is a sign that your skin has been injured. As this damage builds, you speed up the aging of your skin and increase your risk for all types of skin cancer.
UV radiation from the sun and indoor tanning is so dangerous that it has been declared as a known carcinogen not only by the United States Department of Health and Human Services, but also the World Health Organization’s International Agency of Research on Cancer.
Tanning – either in the sun or indoor tanning beds – can cause several common and serious skin conditions:
Sunlight consists of two types of harmful rays that reach the earth: UVA and UVB. Overexposure to both can lead to skin cancer, which means that you’ll need protection from both types.
The UVA rays reach deeper into the skin and lead to signs of premature skin aging, such as wrinkling and age spots. These rays can pass through window glass, which is why it is recommended to wear sun protection even while driving. The UVB rays do not go as deep into the skin and are the primary cause of sunburn. They are blocked by window glass.
No. There is no such thing as a safe tan. Like the sun, indoor tanning equipment exposes your skin to UVA and UVB radiation.
In fact, your risk of melanoma increases 59% when you use an indoor tanning bed before the age of 35, increasing with each use following.
Indoor tanning can also result in injuries, such as burns, loss of consciousness (due to dehydration or over-heating), and eye damage including burns or inflamed corneas, which may require a trip to the emergency room.
Some people argue that some sun is beneficial for the production of vitamin D in the skin. However, the American Academy of Dermatology does not recommend getting vitamin D from the sun or indoor tanning beds. A healthier and safer alternative is to get your vitamin D from a healthy diet, which includes naturally enriched vitamin D foods, fortified foods, and beverages. Vitamin supplements are also an option, so speak with your dermatologist if you feel as though you are lacking Vitamin D!
Self-tanning products are an easy way to achieve a tan look. Sunless tanning products contain dihydroxyacetone, or DHA, which interacts with the proteins in the skin to produce a tan that gradually fades. Recent advances have resulted in longer-lasting formulations and more realistic looking results, as opposed to the orange-ish hue of previous generations of self-tanners.
It’s important to remember though that the color produced by a self-tanner is not sun protection for your skin. Be sure to continue to generously apply a broad spectrum, water resistant sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 to all exposed skin.
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