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July 18, 2023
Is there a way to safely suntan? Nearly half of Americans seem to think so. However, those same individuals also believe that a base tan can prevent sunburn and decrease the risk of skin cancer… two suntan myths debunked by dermatologists and estheticians years ago! Unfortunately, these individuals haven’t seemed to get the memo—and upwards of 60% claim they still tan each summer.
While suntanning might seem like a popular solution to achieve a bronze glow, it’s also a popular cause of those pesky skincare issues you’re likely trying to avoid, from fine lines and wrinkles to pigmentation concerns. Not to mention, most nonmelanoma skin cancers (NMSC) and a significant amount of melanomas are linked to continued UV exposure via natural sunlight and indoor tanning.
With your skin health and complexion at stake, is there truly a way to safely suntan? Let’s discuss!
To properly understand the dangers of suntanning, it’s important to begin with the basic definition of a tan. A tan, either from ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun or an indoor tanning bed, is a telltale sign of skin damage. When UV radiation comes in contact with the epidermis (the outermost layer of skin), it causes genetic damage to cells that triggers melanin production.
Melanin is the pigment that gives the skin its color. Individuals with fair skin have less melanin, while individuals with deeper skin tones have more melanin. Regardless of skin tone, the skin produces more melanin to protect itself against UV radiation, which results in gradual skin darkening. Though actually a sign of DNA injury in the skin, we refer to this process as suntanning — fun, right? Wrong!
There is no such thing as a ‘safe tan.’ The impacts of suntanning are cumulative and can accelerate the effects of the sun on skin aging. Worst of all, research shows that both outdoor and indoor suntanning can lead to skin cancer. While the actual sun is a major culprit, it takes only one indoor tanning session by the time you’re 35 to increase your risk of life-threatening melanoma by 75%.
Now that you know a suntan is a literal sign of skin damage, you might not be as quick to ask if you can lessen the harm of suntanning. After all, the tan itself is the damage! But let’s face it; it can be near impossible to avoid time out in the sun, especially in the summertime. Though you cannot eliminate the threat of sun exposure, you can certainly limit your risk of sun damage.
My solution to limiting sun damage? Shield your skin from both UVA and UVB radiation with a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of at least 50! Proper sunscreen is your best defense to slow skin aging caused by the sun. Don’t believe me? Studies show that those who apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen daily experience an incredible 24% less skin aging!
As an esthetician, it’s also my job to tell you to avoid the sun when its UV rays are at their strongest. I know you can’t avoid the sun entirely, but I advise you to seek shelter from the sun between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Meanwhile, you can consider sunless tanning products for a faux glow! Sunless tanners are a fantastic alternative to achieving a bronze look without all the skin damage.
The best way to protect your skin against unhealthy (and unwanted) signs of skin damage is to avoid suntanning entirely. However, that’s probably not what you wanted to hear — you or the other 2 million Americans who spend at least four days tanning each summer! Fortunately, I can supply some esthetician-approved alternatives to safeguard your skin this summer. Let’s dive in!
As I mentioned above, a broad-spectrum SPF is your best defense against harmful sun rays that damage the skin at the cellular level and accelerate the signs of skin aging. But did you know that certain sunscreens are also formulated with anti-aging ingredients and other beneficial botanicals that can improve skin health while fighting sun rays? Here are some of my favorites:
It’s important to remember that glowing skin does not have to mean bronzed skin. While we’re often quick to associate a tan with healthy skin, the truth is that continuous suntanning only threatens skin health. Rather than focusing on how you can darken your skin, focus on creating a healthy glow with skin-brightening ingredients. Consider my go-to products to brighten the complexion:
Suntanning puts both your skin health and your complexion at stake. Remember that a tan is not the way to achieve a healthy glow this summer. Instead, join me in the Christine Byer Beauty Club, where I share personalized skincare support! Access exclusive product savings and the opportunity to win a FREE consultation with me when you sign up for the club today!
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