Tanning has become a very popular activity for most young people. The skin tone that comes as a result of tanning is always exciting and that’s why it’s not a surprise that the number of people using tanning beds has increased a lot in the recent years. However, tanning has been seen to have a number of negative side effects. There have been studies that have linked tanning beds to melanoma, a form of deadly skin cancer as well as other skin related issues. With, it doesn’t mean that you can’t still get a good tan. While there’s still some risk involved, there are a few safety tips you can explore in order to ensure that each tan you get does not have any side effects. For most people, summer time is the best time to get a tan. Soaking up the sun rays or checking into a tanning bed are two options you can go for.
How Does Tanning Work?
Before moving to the safety tips on beach tanning, it’s important to understand how tanning works. Let’s begin with the more natural process that involves the sun. The sun has two types of ultraviolet radiation which are the UVA radiation and the UVB. The UVB radiation is the one that causes sun burns. It burns the upper layer of the skin known as the dermis. Tanning is, however, caused by the UVA radiation.
The radiation is able to penetrate the upper layer of the skin into the lower layers. The radiation reacts with cells within the lower skin layers called melanocytes. This reaction produces melanin which is the brown pigment that causes your skin to tan. If your body produces more melanin, the darker the tan will be. This is a natural process but as you will see below, there are a few downsides to it.
What Are the Risks of Tanning?
The fact that you are looking for safety tips to make tanning safer tells you that there’s some level of risk involved. The biggest risk with tanning is of course melanoma. This is a form of skin cancer that’s caused by extensive and long exposure to UVA radiation. UVA radiation from the sun or from a tanning bed is the same and the effects will also be the same.
There are some statistics that show an increase in the number of skin cancer cases among people below the age of 35 and this has largely been associated with long exposure to the UVA radiation. There are some studies that have also linked tanning with premature skin aging. In such a situation, you are likely to experience wrinkles, saggy skin, as well as other premature aging symptoms. Exposure to UV radiation can also affect the eyes. In particular, long exposure to UVA radiation will affect eye cataracts.
Safety Tips to Keep in Mind
With all these side effects, it seems like the idea of spending some time basking in the sun or in a tanning bed is simply out of the question. Well, it’s not and what you actually need is to take a few precautions.
Below are some safety tips that you should keep in mind in order to reduce the side effects that come with long UVA exposure:
Exfoliate Your Skin
It’s very important to exfoliate your skin before exposure to the sun and the UVA radiation. This will not only ensure that you have a quality tan but it’s also an important safety measure. Exfoliation is designed to get rid of the dead skin, allowing for newer and even skin to be exposed to the sun. This means that if tanning happens, it will be more evenly distributed and the tone will be well spread all over the body. In addition to this, removing the dead skin cells will make the penetration of the UVA radiation easier and will ensure that the tan is long lasting and safe for you.
Apply the Right Sunscreen
There are many sunscreen solutions you can use but not all of them are safe enough to protect you from the adverse effects that come because of long exposure to UVA radiation from the sun. When you are buying sunscreen, don’t just put all your hopes on any SPF. Look at the bottle and ensure that there’s a sign called “broad spectrum”. You may also look for the UVA logo on the bottle or just look for the word “high”.
There are some sunscreens that will protect you from the UVB radiation but others will protect you from both the UVB and the UVA. This is the kind of sunscreen you should be going for. If you have to go for SPF choose SPF 30 or Over SPF 50. SPF 50 will filter 98% of the UVB while SPF30 will filter 97% of the rays. As for people who have a dark skin tone, SPF 15 will do just fine.
Know Your Tanning Time
Your skin has its limits when it comes to tanning. There’s a point where your body can’t produce melanin anymore and this is when you need to retire to a cool place far away from the sun. There’s no point of spending so much time in the sun. In fact, in a normal situation, it will only take 2-3 hours of basking under the sun to get the tan you are looking for.
Even as we recommend 2-3 hours of sunlight exposure per day, this does not mean that you should soak it all in. In order to reduce the risk of sunburns or other negative side effects that may arise from the process, you need to take a few breaks. For example, you can find a shade for about 10 minutes after every 30 minutes of exposure. This will reduce the intensity of the UV light.
Well, these are some of the simple safety precautions you should take to ensure that tanning is safe for you.