A sign of good health and wealth, not to mention it makes you more attractive, tanning in western countries is not just skin colour. It’s a lifestyle. It makes the appearance of just having landed back from your vacation in the exclusive Caribbean islands, which not everyone can afford. It also gets you a tad closer to the Kardashians or Priyanka Chopra’s golden skin colour.
But not all that glitters is bronze, especially when it’s your skin, your body’s largest organ, that’s involved. Tanning can be safely done, and if done right, you might be able to avoid the big C that comes with it.
Say NO to tanning beds
In Asia, you rarely see tanning salons, it would be weird if you see one. But in Europe and America, these places are everywhere. It’s even glamorized by Hollywood, showing how tanning beds can give you that perfect glow without even stepping on a sandy shore.
Dr Nick Lowe of The Cranley Clinic in London, emphasizes that the tanning beds in salons give you the wrong UV. These tanning beds are producing massive amounts of UVA for you to take in and almost zero UVB. And UVB is important as this stimulates vitamin D production. You increase your skin cancer risk by 75% by spending time on a tanning bed.
Get a base tan
Have you ever heard of getting a tan before actually heading to the beach to get a tan? It does sound a bit odd, but it works better in several ways. This is great news. Dr Shmerling from Harvard Health says that if you go tanning with an existing tan (base tan), its equal to wearing a sunscreen with an SPF level of 3-4. This simply means that instead of just tanning for 20 minutes, as this is your skin’s threshold, a base tan will let you stay under the sun for up to 80 minutes before you burn.
Apply the right sunscreen
We’ve heard it time and time again, sunscreen is just as important as drinking water when tanning. Don’t just grab any random sunscreen off the drugstore shelf. Make sure that it has a high SPF level protection, at least SPF30 or even go for SPF50.
Dr Lowe explains that sunscreen with SPF50 filters 98% of the UVB that you get from tanning. So go for SPF50 when you have whiter or fairer skin, but if you have very dark skin, you can settle for SPF15.
Still in High School? Avoid tanning as much as possible
Everybody knows that sun exposure, especially when done excessively and without SPF protection, increases the risk of skin cancer. And this is mostly true for people with fair skin. Tanning damages the skin and according to the American Academy of Dermatology, you double your risk of melanoma with just one blistering sunburn. Suffice to say, the earlier you start tanning, the longer the skin damage and the higher your risk for skin cancer becomes.
Love the shade
Yes, really do get under shade whenever you can. Taking breaks from sun exposure helps you in so many ways. Dr Frank Schwanke, Head of Suncare R&D for Beiersdorf explains, “Taking breaks from the sun will reduce UV intensity and your sunburn risk and means your tan will be healthier and longer-lasting.”