Are you ready to be beautiful this summer? Everyone finds naturally tanned skin attractive don't they? People who have very white, pale skin can look incredibly attractive if their white skin tone is even and “full”. That is, you can’t see blue veins mapping their skin, or have red splotches here and there, or basically have any evident unevenness to its texture or color. Anything that breaks that evenness is simply more easily visible on whiter skin. Acne, for instance, becomes particularly evident against a nice porcelain canvas.
Tanning is used by many people to even out the color of their skin because any redness they might have on their cheekbones or nose begins to fade into the same brown color as the rest of them when they get a tan. That nice, even skin texture is what people often point towards as a symbol of health and vitality, when really they’re pretty much just wearing nature’s makeup. Red marks or acne on tanned skin? Not as noticeable.
There is a serious belief in our culture that a tan connotes health, affluence and even beauty. This can be seen in fashion magazines and the entertainment media. The tanning industry itself is much more vocal, blatantly and systematically promoting the “benefits” of tanning. A frequent message from the industry is that a tan offers protection against sunburn. Although the message has an intuitive appeal, scientific studies have proved it false. A tan generated by ultraviolet (UV) exposure offers, at best, a very low level of protection against sunburn.
Tanning has a long history that dates back to Ancient Rome. In fact, tans use to be considered unpopular. There are many rewards and risks to tanning as outlined below in the following infographic.
The rising popularity of fake tan might imply that women are choosing to go brown without running the risk of exposure to the sun, but new findings show that’s not the case.
Many women are in fact risking skin cancer because of the mistaken belief that a tan will protect them from the sun.
A survey found that one in 20 women believes that a tan acts as a sunscreen, while 11 per cent think a 'base tan' - a light tan usually achieved on a sun bed before going on holiday - will stop them burning.
In fact, fake tan offers no protection, and a base tan, although touted by salons as a protective measure, may merely give women a false sense of security.
A study examining the effects of tanning was carried out by Cripps in 1981. The investigators found that tanned skin offered sun protection factors (SPFs) of just 2.4, 2.5 and 2.1 for individuals with Fitzpatrick skin types II, III, and IV, respectively. Later studies reported that a tan offered an SPF of only between 2 and 3. It’s clear that a tan induced by UV exposure plays a mini- mal role in protection against sunburn; an SPF of 15 or higher is required for proper protection.
In view of this, the tanning industry’s message that a tan offers protection against sunburn is irresponsible and dangerous. Individuals hearing this suggestion might visit tanning salons to obtain a baseline tan before vacationing in sunny climates. With a baseline tan, these individuals would have a false sense of security. They might stay out in the sun longer, and neglect to seek the shade or use sunscreen. Because the amount of protection provided by the tan is so small, they could get burned. More importantly, prolonged UV exposure can lead to DNA damage, a suppressed immune system and photoaging, even in the absence of a sunburn.
The nominal protection supplied by a baseline tan is only one part of the problem. What is even more alarming is new research revealing the mechanisms and triggers for melanogenesis (the proliferation of melanocytes, the pigment cells where melanoma forms) and tanning due to UV exposure. UV harms the skin cells’ DNA. To preserve the integrity of the genetic code, repair enzymes are activated almost immediately to correct the damage. In cells where extensive or irreparable injury occurs, these cells switch on the pathway for controlled self-destruction (apoptosis). Extensive data demonstrate that DNA damage or DNA repair intermediates are powerful signals that initiate melanogenesis. In some studies, investigators demonstrated this by inducing tanning with topical applications of DNA fragments. In addition, maintenance of a tan requires ongoing UV exposure, which is associated with continual DNA photodamage. The current thinking is that tanning is a biological signal by the skin that reflects the presence of DNA impairment.
So is a tan ever a good thing? From a health perspective, certainly not! The low level of photoprotection afforded by a tan is far outweighed by the damage incurred in its development and maintenance. For those who prefer tanned skin, using a non-UV self-tanner is an alternative. However, this is only a temporary solution and it is important to continue to use sunscreen. A broader change is needed. We must change our culture’s unhealthy misconception that tanned skin is a sign of health and beauty.
The Secret of the Perfect Tan - 8 Tips to Getting Your Dream Bronze
1. Always use protection
Before we talk about tanning, we have to get one thing straight: sunscreen is always mandatory. If you’re afraid it will prevent you from getting darker, think again. Your skin renews itself every ten days so the slower you tan, the longer it will last. Apply the lotion every 2 hours and after getting out of the water. You wouldn’t want to burn your skin, would you?
2. Exfoliate gently and regularly
Tanning is your skin reacting to the sun. Make sure you exfoliate regularly to avoid build up or to prevent the dead skin from blocking the rays. Forgetting to exfoliate will result in an uneven tan, which you certainly do not want. Scrub lightly so you don’t get all the color out, if you are already darker. If you’re looking for a natural scrub you can make your own and there are plenty of options to choose from: granulated sugar mixed with honey, coffee and olive oil or ground oatmeal chimed with a little bit of salt.
3. Moisturize before and after
A softer skin looks better tanned. Get your body moisturized the night before you plan to sunbathe and make it as silky as possible. Concentrate on the more problematic areas, the ones that dry the quickest, for they can cause an uneven tan. You can get a moisturizing sun lotion to kill two birds with one stone. Also, make sure you drink plenty of liquids to keep your body and skin hydrated all the while you’re tanning.
4. Move around
The last thing you want is to have different colors on you, so make sure you turn around to give all of your body access to the sun’s caresses. When tanning your front have your arms up and when you turn on your stomach keep your arms out as well. This way you expose even those parts that are harder to show off. Flip every 15 or 30 minutes. When you’re feeling drowsy curl up under an umbrella so you don’t fall asleep on one side.
5. Protect your eyes
Bright light on the optic nerve stimulates the hypothalamus gland, which produces melanin thus achieving a better tan. But your eyes can easily get burned as well, so the best thing to do is to wear a hat or keep them closed, instead of using sun glasses, while lying in the sun.
6. Go for the outdoors
Tanning beds being safer is only a myth. In fact it’s much healthier to get exposure from the sun. And that’s because with a tanning bed you get a higher concentration of UVA, as much as 12 times more. The UVA rays can penetrate your skin more deeply and cause more free radical damange n in the long run. So the sun remains the best and healthies choice for the perfect brown skin you’re aiming for.
7. Watch the time
Doctors recommend to avoid sun bathing between the hours 10 a.m and 4 p.m, even when it’s cloudy outside. The last thing you want is to get burned and damage your skin permanently. Keep in mind that once you burn it will not miraculously turn into a beautiful bronze. Red is definitely not your color and pain is not your game!
8. Shower after
Taking a bath or a shower, either hot or cold, is always a good idea after sitting in the sun, in order to remove all the lotion, oils or salt and sand from your skin to get it looking silky. Make sure you moisturize after or the bronze will become patchy and irregular. You may also use a cooling cream, so you can overcome any chance of burning. Any aloe vera based lotion is soothing and will calm your skin.
Now that you have the dos and don’ts, you’re ready to go out there and be kissed by the sun. Find yourself the perfect bathing suit, a good book or magazine, remember these tips and tricks and make sure to enjoy every minute of it!