Let’s be straight – there really isn’t a safe way to tan. When the skin feels direct sun exposure, it screams HELP!
In scientific terms, this means ultraviolet light is penetrating the epidermis causing the skin to react by producing melanin, aka your suntan. In your mind, a tan may give you that young, healthy glow but over time it causes just the opposite: A change in skin texture, wrinkling, age spots or worse the big C.
The sunlight that reaches us is made up of two types of harmful rays: long wave ultraviolet A (UVA) and short wave ultraviolet B (UVB). Basically, UVA rays can age us and UVB can burn us. Over exposure to either can damage the skin. There’s also a third type of ray, UVC – these are the shortest and strongest but thankfully they’re absorbed by the ozone layer and don’t typically reach the earth.
UVA rays penetrate deep into the dermis, the skins thickest layer. Unprotected exposure can lead to premature skin aging and suppression of the immune system. And when your skin’s defences are down, you’re at risk for skin cancer.
UVB rays will usually burn the superficial layers of your skin. The intensity of UVB rays vary by season, location and time of day, with 10 am to 4 pm being the peak hours. Sunburned skin doesn’t just feel awful, it can cause permanent damage over time. This is why keeping your skin protected is imperative.
What about self-tanning lotions?
Self-tanning lotions are a safe alternative to the sun. They contain dihydroxyacetone, which interacts with proteins in the skin to produce an orange/tan color that doesn’t wash off. When you can see colour, the self-tanners have a SPF of 4. This is not enough protection so additional sunscreens should be used.
Are tanning booths a safer way to tan?
In spite of claims that tanning booths offer “safe” tanning, artificial radiation carries all the risks of natural sunlight. Tanning booths emit UVA radiation, which poses both short and long-term risks to the skin, including cataracts (eye damage), sunburns, skin cancer and premature aging. In addition, there can be damage to the body’s immune system and reactions to certain fragrances, lotions, moisturizers and medication.
COOLA Products will be available soon at The Spa at the Old Mill – Stay Tuned!