Summer is on the way and you ladies are probably already shopping for that new bathing suit and accessories. If you are a guy, you are putting in a few more hours at the gym to look good on the beach. Many of you are thinking of that golden brown tan you are going to work on this summer that will be the envy of your office. However, have you given any thought to your skin’s safety? In this article, we are going to look at different ways of tanning and how you can get a beautiful one safely. Armed with these tips in this article to guide you this will make it the best summer ever.
The Sun and it’s how it can affect you skin. The sun, The source of all life on earth bombards the Earth every day with deadly radiation that if not for the Ozone layer and the natural magnet field that both surround the Earth we would go the way of the dinosaurs. For tanning, we are mostly concerned with Ultraviolet radiation that comes in three types UVA, UVB, and UVC.
Ultraviolet radiation comes in three flavors UVA, UVB, and UVC, tanning only uses the first two. The most dangerous is the high energy UVC which luckily does not get too far past the Ozone layer so can be mostly disregarded when it come to tanning. UVB and UVA which produce Melanin and then darkens your pigment, which can get that beautiful tan you want. But, if done improperly ages your skin and if you go overboard it can damage your skin or even cause cancer.
So let’s look at 4 different ways to get a Tan and the safe way to do so.
The Traditional way
This the age-old method that goes back to the days of our caveman ancestors. You lay in the sun and turn brown, shifting from front to back to get full coverage. There is a bit more than that though to it. So let’s look at it a little deeper.
Timing is important. The sun is at its strongest between 10 am to 4 pm in most climes. The nearer you get to the equator the times change of course. For the rest of us though this is a good ballpark figure to work with.
24 to 48 hours before going into the sun, Wax or remove body hair. This for the guys too. Doing this prior to going out lets your body recover from whichever method you use to remove hair from places you don’t want hair to be seen.
Gently scrub to remove any dead or dry skin. This will let you make sure your tan comes out evenly and smoother looking.
Using a moisturizer or softening cream and apply to the Knees, back of the feet and elbows. These are harder areas to tan and proper preparation again makes for an even tan.
Gradually build up your tan over a period of time. Don’t try to go for the gold all at once. Do it gradually of over a number of shorter exposures rather than one long marathon tanning session.
Take in to account your skin type. Fair-skinned people such as redheads, those with blue eyes, and blonde-haired people especially take note as you have smaller and fewer pigment cells than those people with darker skin or brown eyes do. Adjust your amount of exposure to the sun downward accordingly.
The correct SPF sun screen for your skin type as well. Though SPF 15-20 is a general figure that gives the protection you need from the harmful effects yet allows for tanning to take place. Always check with your doctor or dermatologist for the correct SPF for your skin type.
Be aware certain parts of your body need more protection. Buttocks and other areas not ordinarily exposed to the sun have a greater risk of getting sunburned. So less exposure is recommended for these areas. Sunblock applied to those areas may be used in addition to your sunscreen to protect those vulnerable areas..
Hydration is a must both for you and your skin. Carry plenty of water with you when you go out the human body requires 2-4 liters of water per day when exposed to the sun for extended periods. A good skin moisturizer for your face neck and hands is also helps prevent wrinkles. Alcohol, cola or other soft drinks actually dehydrate you.
Eye protection. Bright sunlight can damage your eyes. Yes, the eyes help in Vitamin D production. There are also those who claim that Sungazing can replace the need for food and help you diet. But, for the safety of your vision a good pair of 400 UV rated sunglasses are your best bet. 400 means that the the lenses block light up to the 400 nanometer range which covers UVA and UVB. There is some debate over whether UVA is dangerous for the eyes or not. But, for your peace of mind being safe beats being sorry. For added protection Wrap-around, sunglasses look cool and they offer complete eye coverage.
The Tanning bed or booth is second most popular method of getting a golden tan.
Tanning salons or spas have sprung up all over America like wildflowers in the spring. Many who do not have access to a local beach often opt for the convenience of a local Tanning spa. In fact in Pontiac IL. A town of under 12,000 and the site of the 1984 movie “Grandview USA” has a tanning spa built into the train station along with a local restaurant. This lets you know you can get a tan anywhere in the US. However, getting a tan in a salon in either a tanning bed or booth offers more of a challenge for the tan seeker.
Most of the precautions mentioned for outdoor or beach tanning apply. Treat a salon or a spa in the same ways you would treat going outdoors. There are some exceptions and additional steps to take.
UV eye protection is mandatory. Use protective goggles instead of sunglasses. Goggles give full eye protection to inure the health of your eyes.
Beware of salons that say you need no eye protection. You only get one set of eyes. Take every precaution with them.
Tanning booths give a smoother all around tan. Standing instead of lying down prevents pressure on the body and so that will give a more even tan.
Salon and spa regulate the UV. Most equipment uses a two step process. UVB starts the tanning process and UVA completes it.UVB stimulates the melanin and the UVA causes the pigment to darken. Again even a tanning bed can burn your skin. Moderation is the key.
Salons and spas offer additional skin care products to get better results. Bronzers are often used to add more color to the skin while the tan develops. Vitamin creams also may be applied to prevent the aging effect from too much UV.
Time and amount of UV is more closely controlled. Unlike the sun where things like time of day, moisture in the air, and clouds can change the amount of UV that gets to your skin. A tanning bed or booth has far better control. However, make sure the ones that your establishment uses are certified and checked to make sure you aren’t overexposed.
Adverse conditions may occur. Certain soaps, medicines, birth control pills, and skin care products may have negative side effects under salon UV equipment. Make sure you check with your doctor and at the salon to make sure your personnel medicines and skin care products are safe for use.
Older people need to be aware of their skin condition. As we age, our skin gets thinner which can increase the risk of UV damage. Again check with your doctor or salon operator for possible risks.
Creams or tan in a bottle.
Strangely, Asian people do exactly the opposite of their western counter parts. We in the west try to get darker while in the East they try to get whiter. But, in either case both many resort to chemical means to do it. Many consider getting a tan out of a bottle as a cheat or a cop-out. While others like the ease of getting a good tan without all the work. It is of course your choice.
Take your time. Slow gives an even and more natural tan with no splotches or dark double lines.
Use a small applicator or sponge. This lets you apply the cream in small amounts smoothly and evenly which prevents streaking or lines.
Avoid applying the cream to palms of the hands or soles of your feet. A tanned palm is a dead giveaway from where your tan came from.
Go lightly in the creases. Apply more lightly where the joints and bends occur to get a more realistic look.
You may need help to have your back done. Some use paintbrushes. Having someone helping makes the job go much faster and more even.
Wait at least an hour before dressing. Let the cream absorb into your skin. You may also want to shower with a lightly scented soap before dressing as well. Some of the commercial tanners have a chemical smell.
Check with your doctor for any side effects with any medications you are taking. You are putting chemicals that are absorbed by the skin and you want to know about any reactions that may occur before they happen.
One of the more interesting ways to get a tan is to have it sprayed on. This gives a realistic looking tan with no embarrassing streaks or uneven color. Spray tanning came about out of the need to have actors and actresses looking buffed and tanned for their roles in movies and TV. Whether or not this is true just look at the number and location of salons that now offering spray tans. This technique while fast has its own set of detractors and proponents as with tans out of a bottle.
Spray tans often use DHA(Dihydroyactetone). DHA reacts with the amino acids of the skin to get the tanned look you want.
Short duration. Spray tans last only 4-7 days before starting to fade. This means you have to have a touchup at weekly intervals.
]Ocean water or a loofa can remove your tan. Spray tans don’t hold up under water or harsh conditions.
They look better than the tans out of a bottle. A major selling point though is that the tan looks like the real deal with no streaks or shading.
The process is fast. Using an airbrush it only takes minutes to get a tan instead of hours with any of the other ways we have talked about so far. Many salons now offer spray booths that automate the process.
Good ventilation or breathing filter needed. DHA should not be inhaled. A study was done in 2010 by the European Commission Scientific Study On Consumer Safety(SCCS) that highlights many of the requirements for safe spray tanning and extra precautions needed for spray booth operation verses the airbrush method.
Proper measurement of product. The correct amount of DHA must be regulated. 25 ml is recommended for the Airbrush technique.
The spray equipment or booth must be maintained properly. Regular maintenance of the spray equipment and filter masks (if used). This ensures your protection and you do not become over exposed to the over FDA allowed limits for DHA.
As you can see, getting a tan these days is indeed different form the days of our ancestors. We now have many options and different techniques to achieve that golden tan that makes everyone turn their heads as you pass by. There are now many considerations to take into account for your safety and health. But, with a little proper planning, doing your homework, and by following this article’s guidelines your tan will not only be spectacular but achieved safely as well.