Experts agree that the safest tan is not tan at all.
Tanning and sunburn are signs of major skin damage.
There are ways to tan and reduce the risk of skin cancer, such as avoiding tanning beds and using self-tanning products.
Dermatologists agree that the safest way to tan is to not tan at all. However, if you don’t want to skip the sun, there are many ways to protect your skin while enjoying time outdoors.
This is what happens when your skin tans and how you can safely achieve that summer glow.
Tanning the skin is how your body protects itself from sun damage. “Tanning is a by-product of DNA damage, so every time you tan it means it has hurt your body,” says Gabriel Neal, MD, a family doctor and associate clinical professor of primary care and health medicine. of Population at Texas A&M School of Medicine.
Fortunately, damaged skin cells can repair themselves. When you stay out of the sun, and then your tan fades, it’s a sign that your skin has healed. However, when exposed to the sun for an extended period, your melanocytes will continue to produce melanin even after escaping its rays. This is why your skin may continue to develop a tan a few days after a severe sunburn or after spending the entire day in the sun.
How to tan safely
Most people spend too much time in the sun trying to achieve a perfect tan. There are some advantages to sun exposure, such as vitamin D production, however you only need to spend about 15 minutes in the sun three times a week to get those benefits.
To ensure you protect your skin, Neal recommends the following sun safety protocols:
The CDC reports that less than 15% of men and 30% of women apply sunscreen regularly even though it is essential to protect the skin from damage from UV rays.
When it comes to choosing a sunscreen, you should use a broad spectrum with a minimum of 30 SPF. For best protection, reapply every two hours and more often if you’re sweating or in the water, as sunscreen can dissolve or wash.
Always avoid tanning beds
There are more cases of skin cancer related to the use of sun beds than there are cases of lung cancer related to cigarette smoking.
Indoor tanning is more dangerous than outdoor tanning due to intense UV rays applied directly to a person’s body. Outside, there are more physical barriers to protect you from too much UV radiation. Because of this, many states have banned the use of sun beds for minors.
Exposure to direct UV radiation from tanning beds can also cause eye damage in the form of inflammation, cataracts, or eye cancer.
Cover up and seek shade
When outside, wear long-sleeved shirts and wide-brimmed hats for cover. Also, when you spend long hours outside on a sunny day, frequently seek shade not only to avoid sunburn but also heat illness.
Neal also recommends avoiding the sun during peak hours, when UV radiation is at its highest, usually 11 a.m. at 3 p.m., but that may vary slightly depending on your location and time of year.
The only safe way to tan is to use a self-tanning product or get a spray tan. Most self-tanning products and sprays are safe and FDA approved. These cosmetics do not penetrate the skin to cause damage such as UV rays and instead only cover the outer layer.
How long your fake tan will last varies from product to product, but they generally maintain their color for about a week. Pre-exfoliation will remove dead skin cells to ensure that the tan lasts longer.
Take a supplement
Polypodium leucotomos, commonly known as Heliocare, is taken as an oral supplement and has been shown to reduce skin damage from sun exposure. Additionally, nicotinamide, a vitamin B3 supplement, can reduce the risk of skin cancer. Talk to your healthcare provider before taking these supplements.