Many people out there consider tanned skin to be attractive, even though tanning comes with so many dangerous risks.
Do you know exactly what a sun tan is?
Well, when your body is exposed to the sun, it produces more melanin, which is the pigment that gives your skin its color. This is your body’s way of trying to protect itself from the sun’s UV rays, and is also what gives your skin a darker color.
However, while these visible changes occur in the outermost layers of skin, it is what’s going on beneath this that should really concern you…
Not only do the sun’s UV rays affect the outermost layers of skin by changing their color, but they also cause a deeper damage, mutating your skin cells and leading to skin cancer.
Want to know how to tan safely?
Here are eight tips to follow.
Always Wear a Sunscreen
Sunscreen is something that you should be wearing each and every day, even during the winter.
You are probably thinking…
If I want my skin to tan, why would I wear a sunscreen?
Well, why many so-called tanning experts may say that you should never wear a sunscreen if you want to tan, this is not at all true.
No matter how dark you are trying to get, a sunscreen is essential, because this will extend the amount of time that your skin is able to tolerate the sun without serious damage being caused. There is no sunscreen out there that can protect you from 100% of the sun’s UV rays, meaning that your skin will still tan even with a sunscreen on.
If you don’t wear sunscreen…
Your skin will only end up burning, which is not only extremely bad for your skin, but also won’t give you that bronzed tan you are seeking.
How do you choose a sunscreen?
Make sure that it is broad-spectrum, as this will protect you from both UVA and UVB rays.
What’s the difference between the two?
UVA rays are the ones that penetrate deeper into your skin, causing your skin to age prematurely. UVB rays only affect the superficial layers of your skin, meaning that while these are the rays that give you a tan, they are also the ones that lead to skin cancer.
Do you plan on spending much time in the water?
This can be tempting if you need to cool off, but don’t forget to wear a water-resistant sunscreen at least 20 minutes before entering into the water.
Your skin is actually even more vulnerable to sun damage in the water.
Because the water reflects the sun’s rays, magnifying them on to your body and heightening their effects.
Know Your Tanning Cut-Off Point
Think that the longer you stay out in the sun, the more of a tan you’ll get?
This is not actually true at all…
Everybody’s skin will have a tanning cut-off point, meaning that it can no longer produce any more melanin.
What happens if you continue to stay out in the sun after this?
You’ll just be subjecting your skin to all of the harmful effects of the sun’s UV rays.
So, how do you know what your tanning cut-off point is?
This will vary between individuals, but is usually around a couple of hours. Of course, if your skin is quite fair, then your tanning cut-off point will be even less.
Stay In During the Hottest Hours
While it may be tempting to lie out under the sun all day, you would be best off avoiding the sun during its hottest hours.
This is usually between 11am and 3pm, although it varies depending on your location.
3pm is usually the hottest time of the day, because the heat from the sun continues building up until then, while it is still directly above us.
What should you do during these hours?
Stay in the shade!
If you really must be out in the sun, make sure that you double up on the sun cream, and utilize other methods of sun protection. This is discussed in more detail below…
Use Extra Forms of Sun Protection
When it comes to sun protection, sunscreen is not your only option…
There are so many sun-protecting accessories out there.
Let’s begin with sunglasses…
When it comes to your skin, these actually serve a very important purpose.
While the skin on your face is thinner and more delicate than the skin on your body, the skin around your eyes is even thinner.
This is why the area around the eyes is often one of the first to show the visible signs of aging, with these wrinkles and lines being largely due to sun exposure.
Sunglasses help to shield this delicate part of your skin from the sun, keeping it safe from UV rays. Sunglasses that feature a wrap-around style are even better, as these will stop the sun’s rays from reaching your skin from the sides as well as the front.
Now, on to hats…
A hat will give the rest of your face some extra protection, since your sunglasses will only cover your eyes.
Look for a hat with a wide brim, as this will keep your face even more shaded.
When it comes to clothing…
It is likely that you will not be wearing much, since you are trying to get a tan.
However, as mentioned above, your skin will have a cut-off point when it comes to tanning, and after this is when you should be donning your clothes.
Loose and breathable fabrics are best in the heat, but make sure that when you hold an item of clothing up to the sun, you cannot see any light through it. If you can, then that means that the sun’s UV rays will still be able to penetrate through the fabric and into your skin.
You likely already know the importance of keeping your body hydrated at all times, but this is especially important when you are spending time out in the sun.
It does not take long to become dehydrated during the summer months, meaning that you really need to make sure that you are drinking plenty of water.
What does this have to do with tanning?
Well, hydrated skin is healthy skin. Your skin needs water in order to thrive, and keeping your skin cells hydrated helps to prolong their life span, meaning that your tanned skin cells will stick around for longer.
Not only that, but your skin has its own ways in which it will try to fight sun damage. Without enough water, it will not be able to properly function, leaving you with everything from premature aging to skin cancer.
Consume More UV Protecting Foods
Did you know that there are certain foods out there that can actually help to keep your skin and body protected from the sun?
While these in no way replace sunscreen and other forms of sun protection, they are great for giving your body a boost when spending time in the sun.
Want to know which foods to eat more of?
Here is a brief list:
- Foods Rich in Beta-Carotene – foods such as sweet potatoes, carrots, and mangoes are packed with a substance called beta-carotene, which is extremely high in antioxidants that offer a small level of protection against the sun
- Tomatoes – high in lycopene and flavanols, tomatoes are able to increase your body’s natural sun protection. Eat these along with an oil, as this helps your body to absorb its properties better
- Olive Oil and Olives – filled with vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids, both of which help to protect the skin
- Green Tea and Black Tea – high in polyphenols that protect the body from UV radiation. Two or more cups of green tea a day can actually reduce your risk of cancer by up to 30%
- Broccoli, Cauliflower, Brussel Sprouts, Cabbage – all cruciferous vegetables contain a substance called sulphoraphane, which not only has anti-cancer effects but also protects the skin from sun damage
These foods are all easily available, so do try incorporating more of them into your diet when you are spending extra time in the sun.
Opt for a Sun-Less Tanner
When it comes to safe tanning tips, the best tip to follow would be to opt for a sun-less tanner instead.
This basically means a fake tan, and there are several ways in which you can go about achieving this.
And no, sun beds do not count. These are so dangerous when it comes to your skin, and usually just emit UVA, rather than UVB, rays. As mentioned above, the UVB rays are the ones responsible for your sun tan, while the UVA rays lead to skin aging.
So, what are some of the options when it comes to a truly safe tan?
Here are a couple of choices:
- Tanning Lotions – tanning lotions work in a couple of different ways. Some work by stimulating the production of melanin within the skin, while others contain colorants, which will give your skin a darker, but temporary, color. Many of these work in a gradual way, meaning that your tan will build up the more often you use the product
- Spray Tan – best done in a beauty salon, in order to achieve an even application. These contain a chemical called DHA, which react with the skin to make it darker
Of course, there are many other options out there, from tanning mousses to tanning wipes, so do a bit of research to see which ones appeal to you the most.
It would also be worth trying a few different products, rather than giving up if the first doesn’t work for you. Everybody’s skin is different, so you will likely need to shop around a bit before you find the sun-less tanner that best works on your skin.
Curious about tanning pills?
These have potential…
They are usually created with a form of beta-carotene, which is mentioned above. These give the skin a golden-yellow tint, which looks just the same as a tan.
However, the tanning pills you currently see are not FDA approved, meaning that you will never be quite sure as to exactly what you are taking. While this may seem like a fantastic sun-less tanning option, you are best off waiting until more research on the topic has been carried out.
Extend the Life of Your Tan
The less amount of time you spend tanning, the better.
This means that, once you do have a tan, you should take the steps necessary to preserve this tan and keep it around for as long as possible.
How can you do this?
As mentioned above, one way is to keep your body hydrated, as this helps to extend the life of your skin cells. You can also try:
- Turning down the temperature in the shower – heat will speed up the cell regeneration process, meaning that your tanned skin cells will die off
- Keep your skin moisturized – this keeps it hydrated and protected from the outside
- Eat more foods containing beta-carotene – this will heighten the effects of your tan
- Avoid waxing your skin – this not only strips off your hairs, but also the top layer of skin beneath it. Since this is where your tan lies, you want to keep this layer of skin around and healthy for as long as possible
While tanned skin may be trendy, you really do need to be careful when spending time out in the sun, as the consequences will usually be so much worse than the temporary tan you will achieve.
In order to really ensure your skin’s safety, stick to sun-less tanning options as much as possible, as these will still give you the color you desire, but without any of the harmful side effects.