Sun Tanning is the easiest and most affordable method of Tanning. It is entirely free, accessible, and the result is stunning and long-lasting! However, media and websites are exaggerating harmful effects of sun exposure and they are telling people to stop tanning altogether. Isn’t that a little over the top?
The Deal About Safe Tanning: Does It Really Exist?
Ever heard about safe tanning? It does exist! People will tell you otherwise. That’s okay, but we can’t deny the fact that skin cancers and melanomas are more prevalent in the cold states like Washington than in sunny and hot states like Arizona. We can’t always blame the sun you know! If I were to be asked, I’d rather stick with facts and statistics rather than confusing myself with these arguments.
Despite the controversies, sun tanning is still undeniably one of the hottest trends, especially during summer seasons! I’m talking about the healthy and gorgeous tan - and definitely not sunburnt skin! (ew!). The painful and nasty - looking sunburn is the kind of tan that we don’t ever want to have.
How to Tan Safely?
There are many ways to secure your skin under the sun. This is to ensure that you don’t overdo it and end up burning your skin. Tanning and staying under the sun can be very fun and exciting, but anything in excess is bad. Here are the things you can do to safely tan your skin:
#1. Understand How it Works and Use it to Your Full Advantage
Our body is designed to react to every stimulus. Whenever our body detects high levels of UVA or UVB on our skin, it will react by sending tougher cells to the surface for protection. This body reaction results to the brown or tan discoloration of your skin.
Now that you know how tanning works, keep it mind that our body reacts slowly. It will take some time (maybe around 24-48 hours) for it to complete that body reaction to UV rays. This means that we should limit or minimize our sun exposure during our initial attempt to tan and give it some time to show its full results.
If you failed to achieve a tan complexion because you are too fair, don’t rush. Add 5-10 minute increments on your daily routine and have rest days in between to allow your skin to recuperate.
#2. Exfoliate First
Tan is achieved when newer and tougher cells are brought to the surface to shield excessive UV exposure. Exfoliating your skin prior to tanning, gets rid of the old skin cells, thus, expediting the process of skin turnover for tanning.
Exfoliation also makes your tan long - lasting because it gets rid of the old cells, thus, the tanned cells are the newer cells which will take longer to shed off.
#3. Wear Shades and Hat
The skin on your scalp and areas around your eyes are thinner, hence they are fragile and sensitive. Wearing a hat and shades will add an extra layer of protection against the UV rays. You are not planning to tan these areas anyways, don’t you?
We recommend a hat with two inches or more rim so that it can shelter your entire face. You can trust me when I say that these areas don’t need too much exposure to achieve an even tan.
For eyewear, make sure that it has big lenses - enough to cover even the thin under - eye area. You also need to take care of your eyes themselves from the UV rays. Anything labeled as "UV absorption up to 400 nm" or "Meets ANSI UV Requirements" is perfect!
#4. Know When is The Best Time to Tan
This is the question that most of us are dying to know the answer. Alright, so here it is. It has been by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that “The peak sun intensity hours, when UV light is strongest, are between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. standard time or 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. daylight savings time.”
Knowing this information gives us the idea to do your tanning outside of this “peak hours”. The same article further said that “By avoiding sun exposure during peak hours, sun exposure may be reduced by as much as 60%.”
Some will tell you that tanning for one hour is okay. Well, I think that is still too much. With the intensity of Green House Effect, you should start tanning only 10-15 minutes a day for four days and rest on the 5th day to wait for the actual tan results. Here, you can evaluate how your skin reacts to the sun.
If you’re too pale and the results are way beyond your desired goals, just keep repeating the process weekly by adding increments of 5-15minutes. Do it nice and slow.
#5. Cheat Sparingly
If the tanning process feels years to take effect, you can cheat using tanning lotions. They work to concentrate UV rays to your skin, thus, expediting the tanning process. If you can just stick with your routine without any problem, then save your money and wait patiently for your tan - it will be all worth it.
Another safe way to cheat is taking supplements. Skin cancer authority, Dr. Mako Lens said that taking 25g of beta-carotene daily boosts your skin’s defense against UV rays by aiding in your skin’s ability to shield itself (tanning).
#6. Apply The Right Sunscreen
You might have read or heard it elsewhere - ”Not all sunscreens are created equal”. There are so many sunscreens on the market today that offers super high SPF (sun protection factor) as part of their marketing or sales strategy.
The thing is, you must not rely on SPF alone in choosing the right sunscreen for you. You should also check the label for something that would say, “broad spectrum”. Why? SPF only shields you from UVA but not UVB radiation. Broad spectrum does both.
There is also the right SPF recommendation suitable to your skin tone. Here’s an article that will further guide you in choosing the right sunscreen.
Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said that the amount of sunscreen a person should apply should be 2 milligrams per square centimeter (mg/cm2) to the exposed skin under the sun, says the For example, if a person is 5 ft. 4 in. (163 cm) and weighs 150 lb. (68 kg) with a 32 in. (82 cm) waist and is wearing a bathing suit covering the groin area, he or she should apply 29 g (approximately 1 oz) evenly to the uncovered body.
#7. Eat The Right Food
Our body has it’s own SPF called lycopene. It is not a hormone that is not readily available and produced by our body - we get them from consuming tomatoes and other fruits or vegetables with red or orange color. Lycopene is known to protect your skin naturally and boost your natural SPF by 33%. Eating tomato pasta has never been this appealing!
Another treat you’ll love is the dark chocolate (yum!). It is packed with flavonoids, that are known to prevent skin sunburn! Dermatologist Dr Samantha Bunting said "It's best taken in an espresso shot right before you hit the beach". Tanning or not, I love the idea so much that I’m about to try it after I’m done writing this article.
A sun - kissed tan is always beautiful to look at, but we should prioritize our skin’s health. Knowing the best ways to safely tan your skin and the best time to tan will save you from painful and unattractive sunburns.
Do you have a tanning experience to share? We would love to hear from you. If you have any questions, clarifications or suggestions regarding the safe tanning process, we can answer that through your comments below. I’ll be waiting! (I’ll just take my dark chocolate espresso for now. Hello flavonoids!)