You head to a beach to get a good sun tanning, yet how familiar are you with its effects on your skin? You think that it makes your skin look flawless. It surely does, but do you think everything that looks perfect from the outside is good on the inside too? Did you ever give a thought as to why and how does tanning happen and what sun tanning does to your skin?
I have the answers to your questions!
Travelling includes a lot of sun exposure that eventually causes sunburn or “Suntan”. But the question remains – is suntan good or bad for your skin?
Also, there are two types of tannings. One is the natural skin burning procedures which is due to tanning caused by the sun and the other is artificial tanning about which we’ll talk later.
What Actually Is A Sun Tan?
So, it is not just a golden glow. It is something that causes the golden glow. Let me tell you, my friend, this golden glow is actually skin damage! Yes, a suntan is a sign of skin damage. In scientific terms, it is a sign that shows that the skin is actually trying to protect itself from the harsh rays of the sun.
Did You Know: 80% of the fine lines and wrinkles are caused by UV exposure to the skin.
How Does It Work?
Skin cells on the top layer of the skin which is the epidermis release a pigment called Melanin. Melanin gives the skin its natural colour. When the skin is exposed to the sun, more melanin is produced which we call as “Suntan”. It is not a sign of healthy skin.
There is nothing called as “Safe tan”
Another thing you need to understand and know about a tan is that your skin does not even begin to tan until the harmful UV rays penetrate into your skin. So when you tan next time, understand that the UV rays have done their job and has started messing with your DNA.
And to the people who say that melanin can protect their skin from the UV rays, here is a fact for you; Melanin is only produced when the skin is exposed to the UV rays. It is a defence mechanism which means till your body cells produce melanin, the damage would have been done.
Is Tanning Good?
Umm… Let’s just save you some time and say… NO! Sun tanning is a famous thing for Australians. It has been since the 1900s. It is not new. The truth is that exposing the skin to UV radiations are harmful. Australians are exposed to the highest levels of UV radiations in the world. Australia also has the highest number of skin cancers reported in the world.
Over 2,000 Australians die from skin cancer each year! I’ll explain!
There are two types of UV radiations that can damage the DNA or skin cells. When the DNA is damaged, cells burn and hence cause skin burns and in the worst case scenario, Cancer.
UV-A has another property of breaking down the collagen in the skin. Collagen is the support system of the skin. Without support, you might age soon. No antiageing product can slow down your ageing. To avoid these UV-A and UV-B radiations from entering the skin, dermatologists recommend using sunscreens.
How Does Sunscreen Work?
Sunscreens are not just helpful to prevent a tan but also reduces the risk of skin cancer and ageing.
Sunscreen comprises of two main components called the active ingredients and emulsions. The responsibility of the active ingredient is to provide sun protection. The active ingredients come in two categories; UV absorbers and UV reflectors.
UV absorbers convert the UV radiation into a low level of heat and UV reflectors are made up of oxides that absorb the radiations and scatter them. It is the basis of all organic matter.
The emulsion, on the other hand, is what carries the active ingredients. It also helps in locking the moisture in the skin.
- Normal skin absorbs both UV-A and UV-B radiations.
- Skin with UV-B protecting sunscreens reflect UV-B and absorbs UV-A radiations.
- Sunscreens with UV-A and UV-B protections are actually sunscreens that have a broad spectrum. They reflect both UV-A and UV-B rays.
What Is SPF And What SPF Should Be Used?
SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor. It is important for you to know that sunscreens will not block the UV rays, they will screen it for you. Even if it reflects the majority of UV rays, some of them will still penetrate into your skin. SPF measures how much UV rays are allowed to penetrate through the screen. The higher the SPF, the lesser the UV rays pass through them. Here are some numbers that will help you to understand better:
- SPF 30 allows 3.3% of the UV to reach the skin. This means 96.7% is reflected back.
- SPF 50 allows 2% of the UV rays to reach the skin. This means 98% of it is reflected back.
In other words, SPF 30 slows down the sun tanning for 300 minutes and SPF 50 slows down the sun tanning by 500 minutes.
What Is Artificial Tanning or Sunless Tanning?
If you have reached this point, you by now must have understood what tanning is exactly. Be it outside in the sun or on a tanning bed, if your skin is exposed to the sun or UV rays the epidermis will produce melanin. The result is Tan!
This is what artificial tanning is. In artificial tanning booths, your skin is sprayed with bronzers or exposed to UV radiations. Both are not good for your skin. And about UV radiations, they can change the DNA in your cells. And this change can later lead to skin cancer.
So, I have a question to the companies that make tanning products like Loreal, Sephora, Tan-Luxe and Banana Boat. Is the customer important or is making money? Do you know what damage your products are doing to your customers?
“Indoor tanning is different because you can control the amount of UV exposure to the skin”
No… it’s not true. Its a major myth. Indoor tanning exposes you to intense UV rays that increase the risk of melanoma which is more in women.
There are various types of tanning products that the companies claim have SPF that protects you from the harsh UV rays. The truth is that these tanning products do not contain any SPF and the exceptions that have SPF has a range of SPF ranging from 4-15. This does not last for more than an hour, so sunscreen needs to be applied after these products.
These dyes come in the form of lotions, creams, sprays and mousses. They are generally made up of vegetable dyes. These dyes do not provide any protection from UV rays to your skin and neither do they produce melanin. The dye is shed with the dead skin after a few days.
Bronzers provide your skin with temporary colour that can be washed after use.
Tan accelerators claim to speed up the natural tanning process. This is not true. They do not produce melanin in the body. They come in the form of a lotion. Using tan accelerators for a long time can increase the risk of cancer.
Spray tanning booths
Fake tanning solution is sprayed on your skin containing the same dye as lotions.
Tips On Skin Protection
See, there is nothing like a safe tan. Even a little sun tanning is too much for your skin. Here are some tips that you can use to protect yourself from getting tanned.
- Avoid sunbeds. They are just harmful.
- Right sunscreen can help you a lot.
- Tanning time should not exceed more than 1-2 hours.
- Shade will save you.
- Say no to tan accelerating creams.
- Stay out before 10:30 and after 3:30 PM to avoid the maximum sun.
- Cover your skin as much as you can.
- If your skin is burnt, apply cucumber or peeled potato skin on the affected area.
This was all about the damage a tan can do to your skin and what all can you do to protect yourself from it. I hope it helps you and you will understand that sun tanning is not only about colour. Let me know in the comments section what is your take on it.