Tanning: Yay or Nay?
by Claudia Christin on Aug 18, 2023
Summer calls for bikini, beach, and tanning. We all know that the sun is not purely good or bad for our skin. But a bronzy, sun-kissed glowing skin is so tempting. And tanning would be one of the ways to achieve that kind of skin. Sometimes you may find yourself asking is it okay to do tanning? Is it good or bad for our skin? What should we keep in mind if we want to do tanning?
What is tanning?
Tanning is a process you do to darken your skin color, mainly done under the sun. This is called tanning because your skin will turn ‘tan’ afterwards, caused by exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun or tanning beds.
The exposure from UV radiation causes genetic damage to cells on your outermost layer of skin. To protect your skin from being injured by the UV radiation, your skin will produce melanin (a pigment that gives our skin color). This will result in darkened skin color.
So, what do you say to tanning, yay or nay?
Up to you, but do it with precautions if you decide to do it.
You can do tanning if you want to do it. However, we MUST do tanning with protection. Using broad spectrum sunscreen, especially SPF 50+ and PA++++ is necessary. A bronzy, sun-kissed glowing skin is desirable, but you do not want uneven skin tone, sunburn, fine lines and other premature aging signs on your skin.
Downside of tanning for skin health
That bronzy, sun-kissed look might be your summer skin goal that you think can only be achieved by tanning. However, there are some bad effects of tanning that you need to be aware of. Tanning is not safe. It increases your skin aging process and the possibility of other skin risks such as;
Melanoma and other skin cancers
Premature skin aging (age spots, wrinkles)
Immune system suppression
Is there a way to tan safely?
Sadly, no. But it can be done safer by doing some of these:
Do it for a very short period of time
Drink water so your skin won’t be dehydrated
Apply sunscreen with broad spectrum protection on your skin and lips
Apply sunscreen with minimum of SPF 30
Protect your eyes by using sunglasses
Reapply sunscreen every 2 hours and after going in water.
Apply SPF powder to your scalp
Apply SPF to other body parts you often miss (neck, feet, ears, decolletage)
Roll over frequently so you tan evenly without burning.
Natural Tanning vs Tanning Bed
Although tanning bed may seem safer than natural tanning, as it does not expose your skin to UV radiation directly, it is actually far worse. Tanning beds raises the risk of skin cancers. The artificial UVA rays used in tanning beds actually increase the risk of developing melanoma. Using tanning beds before age 20 can increase your chances of developing melanoma by 47%, and the risk increases with each use.
Fun fact about tanning
Tanning damages all skin type and color
Even if your skin type is not fair, tanning causes DNA injury that can lead to premature aging and skin cancer.
Tanning is not a good way to get vitamin D
The truth is that UVB radiation leads to the production of vitamin D. Tanning is mostly caused by UVA rays. This means that tanning delivers almost no vitamin D benefit while increasing the risk of skin cancer.
Base tan won’t prevent you from burning
Tanning does not protect against sunburn; it simply exposes you to more harmful UV rays.
Other options for tanning is available
Spray tans or tanning lotion, which use dihydroxyacetone (DHA) to darken the skin.