Are you thinking about getting a tan to start the spring and summer beach season with an early tan? Maybe push the season a bit?
What made you start thinking about getting a tan to start your spring and summer season with a bang? Surprise your family and friends? To help show off that 10 lbs. you have struggled with and it finally disappeared?
We all are interested in looking better. And feeling better about our appearances as we get closer to the swimming suit time.
So, even though you know it is not in the interest of long-term safe skin maintenance, you are tempted.
In my part of central Texas, getting a suntan using the sun’s rays is easy enough to do. We have many hours of sunshine, year-round.
However, not everyone lives where there is much sun while the late winter is turning into springtime. You are determined to have a tan anyhow? Please remember less is better. Decide to go with less tan.
Those people may choose to use tanning beds and booths. We know that we were wrong when we once thought of indoor tanning as a “safe alternative.”
Indoor tanning booths are more dangerous than the natural sun for your skin health. (According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and their warnings about the dangers of indoor tanning.)
Let’s do a quick rehash of the Facts and Fiction of Tanning, early or late:
Does A Base Tan Protect You?
• Actually, your base tan is not a safe tan.
Fiction: Your tan will act as your body’s natural protection against sunburn.
Fact: A tan is how your body responds to injury from UV rays. Your tan shows that damage has been done. The tan will do little to protect you when you overexpose your skin to the sun or stay too long in the tanning booth.
Tan Skin Is Healthy
Your tan skin may appeal to you if you are obsessed with a tan.
• Your tan skin is not healthy skin.
Fiction: Tanning gives people a “healthy glow.”
Fact: When you are tanning or burning, you are exposing yourself to harmful UV rays. These rays damage your skin. Every time you tan you are increasing your risk of melanoma.
Your body has to go into the defensive mode to increase the melatonin needed to protect your body. Each time you are trying to tan, you are turning on the same switch that can cause cancer. Do you feel certain you still have enough safe times to flip that switch? That this time, you won’t develop skin cancer?
Controlled Tans Are Safer
• “Controlled” tanning is not safe tanning.
Fiction: Indoor tanning is safe because you can control your level of exposure to UV rays.
Fact: Indoor tanning exposes you to intense UV rays, many times greater than what you would get in natural sunshine rays.
This intense exposure raises your risk of melanoma.
Melanoma is one of the most common cancer in people younger than thirty. Younger women are seeing rising numbers of this aggressive skin cancer.
Just to jog your memory, skin cancer is the most common of all cancer types. The number of cases has been climbing over the past years as the tanning booth crowd has gotten older.
More than 5 million skin cancers are diagnosed each year, just in the United States. That’s more than all other cancers combined.
To protect yourself from skin cancer you must limit your exposure to UV rays. The rays from the sun or from man-made sources such as indoor tanning beds.
Is Tanning Dangerous
• Do not use any tanning beds or sunlamps. There is a concentration of rays in a sunbed. These rays can cause serious long-term skin damage and
contribute to skin cancer of all kinds. Melanoma is the most serious and is found often among tanning bed users. (Yes, you may be the lucky one who misses skin cancer, but what if you are not?)
• Cover-up. When you are out in the sun. Your sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat are where you need to start. Then move on to a loose-fitting long-sleeve sun blocking shirt to protect your skin.
Protect your eyes with sunglasses that block at least 99 percent of UV light.
- Always use a screen with the broad spectrum protection listed on the label. Read the label! Make sure it has an SPF of at least 30.
- Reapply every 2 hours
- Also, reapply after swimming or sweating.
- Again, reading lables is important, Then following the directions on the label.
- Take a break in the shade.
- Limit your direct exposure to the sun, especially between the hours of 10 AM. and 4 PM when UV rays are strongest.
Do You Still Think A Safe Tan Is Possible?
Ok, now that you know what has been proven in science and you still want a tan?
Many people just like the way their skin looks with a tan. Remember a light tan is healthier than a dark tan.
Prolonged skin exposure to the sun comes with a variety of risks, including skin cancer.
Even when you are wearing sunscreen, outdoor sunbathing is not risk-free. If you’re still interested in tanning, you may be able to reduce the risks by tanning faster in the sun.
Tanning faster will help you avoid prolonged UV exposure. Less time in the sun will reduce the risk of skin cancer.
Here are some suggestions for helping your body tan faster. They are scientific conclusions. Some have helped some determined tanner, some didn’t. Maybe they will work better for you.
Please consider if a tan is worth the risk for you. I only offer these suggestions to help you get out of the sun quicker. I think you should put on sun blocking clothing and stay safe!
And, of course, there are precautions to be aware of. Make sure you read through before beginning to tan. Don’t overlook the warnings.
Skin Prep For Tanning
Exfoliation is your first step to building a longer-lasting tan. By taking the time to exfoliate your skin, you will remove all the dead cells which can prevent your skin from tanning evenly.
You should start exfoliating a few days before being exposed to the sun.
Exfoliating your skin can leave the skin a little sensitive. This sensitivity can make you more prone to sunburn.
Using non-chemical exfoliating methods is preferred to chemical-based ones. You can use exfoliating cloths, brushes, or body scrubs. Anything non-chemical! And don’t forget to hydrate your skin after showering.
Here are some suggestions that might allow you to tan faster to avoid prolonged sun exposure:
- Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30. Always apply sunscreen with broad-spectrum UV protection of at least 30 SPF.
- Never use a tanning oil that does not contain sun protection. Remember to apply sunscreen within 20 minutes of going outside. An SPF of 30 is strong enough to block UVA and UVB rays, but not so strong that you won’t get tan. Cover your body with at least a full ounce of sunscreen.
- Change your positions frequently. This will help keep your body safer and help keep the sun off one area for too long. Moving will allow your skin to get the sun more evenly.
- Do not stay out over 30 minutes in high sun-times. This allows the sun on your body as long as is possibly safe. This means turning over in 15 minutes. Do not sun one side or the other for a total of over 15 minutes during the brighter sun ray time. Remember we are going for a safer tan here.
Attention To Your Diet Will Help You Tan Faster
Did you know that the food you eat is important when you are tanning?
Eating specific vegetables has been proven to help get your skin ready from the inside!
The beta-carotene and lycopene found in certain vegetables could increase your skin’s protection from UV ( by turning on the process of producing melanin!)
This can make your tint a bit more orangey, making more of a golden glow. Help your fast tan wishes come true by making sure your diet is rich in carrots and tomatoes.
Now we know that we should eat foods that contain beta carotene.
By eating foods like carrots, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, guava, watermelon, and kale, you can help your skin turn tan without burning. Much more research is needed. However, some studies show that beta carotene can help reduce sun sensitivity for some people.
*To consider, if you can’t get out to tan, eating the suggested diet could help you have an inner glow.
I found this report and thought it was interesting. A small 2011 study by trusted Source (and older research, such as this 2001Trusted Source study) found that lycopene helps protect the skin naturally against UV rays.
This would be interesting for those without all the nightshade allergies, or who for other reasons must avoid or limit lycopene for other health reasons.
What Natural Oils Contain Some SPF?
For an extra bit of protection try using oils with the natural ability to protect with SPF.
These oils should not replace you normal sunscreens that you use when tanning, but as an extra layer of protection for your skin, maybe after your tanning time in the sun.
Coconut, raspberry, and carrot oils will give your skin an extra dose of hydration along with a bit of SPF protection.
Yes, coconut oil can benefit your skin in many ways. However, it isn’t advisable to use it for tanning.
Coconut oil offers some protection from the sun’s damaging UV rays. That is good, but it doesn’t offer a high enough level of protection to prevent you from getting sunburn.
Monitor Your Time in the Sun
It is important to watch how long you are in the sun. If you are tanning this is very important.
Staying out in the sun for longer than your skin can create melanin could result in a sunburn.
Melanin is the pigment responsible for your being able to tan. Everyone has a melanin production cut-off point, which is usually about 2 hours.
After this amount of time, your skin has gotten as dark as it is going to for the day.
If you stay out in the sun past that point, you’ll be putting your skin in harm’s way.
If your goal is to tan quickly, the sun is typically strongest between noon and 3 p.m. Remember, that while the sun is at its strongest during this time.
The sun will do the most damage due to the strength of the rays.
You will likely be increasing the risk of skin cancer due to this exposure.
If you have extremely fair skin, it’s best to tan in the morning before 10 AM or after 3 PM. to avoid burning. Remember to take breaks.
If your sunburn risk is high, limit yourself to 10 minutes on each side, 20 minutes total.
There Are Dangers For Those Who Tan
However, when tanning time is not monitored, and you don’t remember to use sunscreen while you are tanning? Yes, there are serious risks. There are risks even when you follow all the rules:
- other skin cancers
- dehydration and health complications
- sunburn and serious lasting problems
- heat rash that can cause infections
- premature skin aging making you look much older than you are
- eye damage that is irreversible
- immune system suppression that can lead to other health conditions.
Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor or specialist in this subject. These are some tips that I used many years ago along with FDA recommendations. Please consult with your doctor if you have sensitive skin.
Sami’s Take On Are You “Thinking” About Getting A Tan
Most of us always “forget” about sunscreen. But sunscreen actually lets you get a tan, more slowly yes but more safely.
The other suggestion I have is to start with just a few minutes, then add slowly. This gives you a deep long-lasting tan. If you stay in the sun too long you will most likely get a sunburn, blistering, and then peeling skin.
While going a bit slower sounds the opposite of a quick tan, you will be moving forward. Use some common sense, your watch to time sessions, and record how long you are out each day. A tanning log, if you will.
This will help you determine the safe times for you.
Make sure you moisturize after your times of sun exposure.
And keep your sun hat, sunglasses, and sun blocking shirt handy to protect yourself.
Find a good dermatologist to help alert you when your skin cancers start developing.