Tanned skin makes the illusion of a healthier body and skin because it actually makes imperfections look less obvious. This is why a lot of people don’t mind getting burned under the sun despite the risks involved.
Getting a nice tan can be enticing but that nice summer glow is, unfortunately, a type of skin damage. When our skin gets tanned, this is not our body’s way of trying to look attractive. Tanning is evidence that our skin cells are being damaged and this can lead to cancerous effects.
How does our skin get tanned?
As UV rays target your skin cells, our body responds by protecting itself. Melanocytes, a form of darker pigment cells are sent to our skin’s surface to block radiation and prevent further skin and internal damage. The more exposed you are to UV radiation, the more pigments get sent to the surface. As these pigments gather, our skin gets tanner and tanner.
Those with lighter skin have a harder time producing these pigments and the pigments they do produce are not as good as what darker-skinned people get.
Can we skip sunscreen once we’re tanned?
Definitely not! The natural sun protection we get is not enough. If you have light skin, the equivalent level of SPF you get from melanocytes is 3. For those who tan more easily, it can only go as high as SPF 13. To be properly protected from the sun’s UV rays, the FDA recommends a minimum of SPF 15 and the ideal amount of protection is SPF 30.
The more we tan, the more skin damage we get and the more our DNA mutates which can eventually lead to skin cancer. It can also lead to premature aging. As our skin gets damaged, collagen breaks down and our skin’s connective fiber weakens leading to wrinkles, sagging skin, and blemishes.
Statistics have also shown that dark-skinned people are more likely to die from skin cancer. Because of the age-old myth that darker skin has enough sun protection, those with darker skin often skip sunscreens and don’t mind being exposed to the sun. Once skin cancer is detected, it has gone to the later stages and has become more difficult to treat.
Are tanning beds safer?
Nope. In fact, more people develop skin cancer from indoor tanning versus people who develop lung cancer due to smoking.
The issue lies in what happens to our skin as it tans more than what it’s radiation source. The piling up of melanocytes and the injury the tanning process causes to our DNA is what creates the problem.
Plus, tanning beds, tanning booths, and sun lamps even raise the risk for skin cancers like melanoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and basal cell carcinoma since they use UVA rays.
Health Risks Linked to Tanning
Is tanning really worth it? There are many tradeoffs for that beautiful golden sheen.
The UV rays that bring this sun-kissed tan penetrates the layers of our skin and damages it at the cellular level. Our skin loses elasticity and it messes with the healing and restoration of healthy skin cells. This means sagging, wrinkled skin, uneven skin tone, and sunspots.
Nonmelanoma Skin Cancer
This form of cancer is easier to treat than other skin cancers but it affects the appearance of the skin. Removal and treatment are often successful but it can still be an expensive and time-consuming process.
Melanoma Skin Cancer
Now, this would be the scarier and more serious form of skin cancer. Malignant melanoma can spread to other organs quickly if not treated in its early stages.
You can develop melanomas on any part of the body but it commonly develops on the face, back, legs, and arms since these are often exposed to the sun. Some symptoms of melanomas are changes in existing moles and unusual growths on the skin.
Melanomas can also be successfully treated with early detection and action. Unfortunately, most people fail to detect melanomas in its early stages since the symptoms are sometimes not so obvious.
Glowing Skin Tips and Tricks
Fake It Till You Make It
If you want to get that bronze glow, try tanning sprays and lotions. There are plenty of products and tanning spray services that can effectively get you the glowing tan of your dreams.
Tone up for Glowing Skin
For that coveted healthy radiance tanning gives, you can exercise instead of sunbathing. Doing high-intensity exercises can make you sweat a lot and this will help you get healthier, more radiant skin.
Eat and Drink Healthy
Water hydrates and restores your skin’s youthful glow. Eating healthy and including antioxidants in your diet can also help you get softer, more supple skin.
If you must spend time outside, wear clothes and accessories that can protect you from the sun. Wear a fab wide-brimmed hat or a gorgeous pair of sunnies. Take care of your skin in fashion!
Don’t Skip the Sunscreen
Even if you are just going out on a quick errand, wear sunscreen especially if you’re spending more than ten minutes under the sun. Properly apply sunblock with a minimum protection of SPF 15. Broad-spectrum sunblocks are better since they offer protection from both UVA and UVB sun rays.
If it’s cloudy outside, you still need to wear sunscreen because UVA rays can pass through clouds.
When you’re on vacation and having fun at the beach, it’s easy to forget about reapplying sunscreen. Sunscreen with SPF 30 gives around 5 hours of protection but activities like swimming, wiping, and sweating can erase the sunblock off of your skin. Be mindful of reapplying to get optimum sun protection.
Don’t Go Out During Peak Hours
We still need a regular dose of vitamin D from the sun. But if you’re going out, don’t do it when the sun is at its peak. In general, this would be between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. but if the sun feels strong on your skin, then that’s a better signal not to stay out in the sun.