Ever since Coco Channel was first photographed with a beautiful glowing tan, people have been trying to emulate that healthy, golden glow. Unfortunately, the increased exposure to the sun’s UV rays, also raised the chances of people developing certain skin diseases. The are ways to still get the gorgeous bronzed glow, without putting yourself at risk. Once you have learned everything that you need to know about tanning, it will be possible to look healthy and gorgeous year round.
Learning How the Skin Tans
For years, researchers thought that as the skin tanned, it was a sign of skin damage. Scientists are now learning that this might not be the case. In fact, recent studies are showing that a suntan may actually be the body’s natural way of protecting itself from damaging UV rays. The skin is comprised of layers, and it is the upper layer of skin, called the epidermis, that is most affected by the sunlight. The UV rays cause the body to produce more melanin, and this pigment is what darkens causing that beautiful tanned look. As the skin cells begin to die and flake off naturally, the golden glow will begin to fade. It is when the bottom two layers of skin become damaged that sunburns and skin conditions may begin to develop.
While researchers are beginning to believe that tanning is a natural, protective response by the body, it still presents a problem for lighter skinned people. The fairer the skin, the less pigmentation a person has, and it is the darker melanin that helps to prevent sunburns and skin damage. Without this, fairer skinned people are at a higher risk of developing certain cancers and may even show signs of premature aging.
The Different Types of UV Light
There are two main types of UV light that affect the way we tan. UV or ultra violet light, are the light rays produced by the sun. The UVC rays, are the shortest rays and are burned away as they enter the earth’s atmosphere. The UVA and UVB light waves are the ones that reach us, and are what give us our beautiful tanned look. The are positives and negatives associated with both UV rays, and it is necessary to understand what they are before going sunbathing.
UVA light rays are what cause a quicker and darker tan, but can easily burn anyone with fairer skin. Unlike UVB, these rays do not help the body to produce Vitamin D, but they do increase the production of melanin. This is the body’s natural sunburn protection. Limiting your sun exposure strictly to UVA does not help to prevent certain cancers, and it can even sped up the aging process.
UVB has often been referred to as the harmful light rays, and this lower pressure wave has been linked to certain skin cancers. This is only when exposure is mainly limited to the UVB rays. The benefits of limited exposure include, an increased production of Vitamin D, and the production of more melanin. The tan from the rays is also lighter, and gradually darkens over time. While the coloring will not be as dark as a tan from the UVA rays, it will last longer.
Balancing the UV Rays
The best way to tan would be to use a combination of the two rays, but this is almost impossible to do in nature. The shorter spectrum UVB rays are difficult to catch, except in optimum conditions. To find the perfect blend, it will have to be the right time of day, at the right place, in absolutely perfect weather. Since this does not often occur, many people may be getting a gorgeous tan, but they are not getting the healthy benefits that are often associated with tanning.
With the right combination of light rays, researchers are being to suggest that not only will you get the healthy, golden glow that is sought after by so many, you will also see an increase in Vitamin D production. Vitamin D has long been linked not only to good bone health, but also to hair and skin. While the UVA rays are easier to find, they are also the ones that have been linked with premature aging. When they are balanced with the UVB rays, some of these signs may be erased away. The UVB rays stimulate the body’s production of melanin, which replaces old and dead skin cells. The newer and smoother cells, can give you a fresh, youthful look, along with your tan.
Tanning Safely Outdoors
One of the main benefits from tanning, is the increased production of Vitamin D by the body. It is the UVB rays that makes this possible, and sunbathing outdoors is still one of the best ways to get these light waves. Before heading outdoors, a sunscreen or sun block should be applied. Sunscreens help to block some of the harmful UVA and most of the UVB rays, so you can still safely tan without worrying about the harmful side effects. It is also important to remember that a sunscreen will not block all of the harmful rays, and it does need to reapplied frequently.
There are different types of sunscreens, with the most common being referred to as a broad spectrum sun block. This means that the lotion will block out all of the UVB rays and some of the UVA rays. While this is great for preventing sunburns, it also does not help the body to produce the healthy benefit of Vitamin D. The UVA rays are also the ones that can cause premature aging. The best sunscreen will let both of the UV lights through, while still providing protection. Each sunscreen will have its SPF listed on it, which will tell you long and how much protection the lotion will give you.
The FDA Safe Tanning Tips
The FDA has even weighed in on the dangers and the benefits of tanning, and have released the following tips for getting a safe and healthy tan:
- A healthy diet is important including, carrots and spinach.
- Slowly introduce your skin to the sun. Start in the mornings or early spring when the sun is at its lowest.
- Use sunscreen at least 15 minutes before going outside.
- Refrain from laying out during the mid afternoon, when the sun is at its highest.
- Always apply lotion after tanning to soothe and moisturize the skin.
While many people prefer to lay outdoors to receive their dose of Vitamin D and to get a glorious golden tan. Unfortunately, this is not always possible year round. To help solve this problem, many people are turning to tanning salons and tanning beds to keep their tan fresh and glowing.
Indoor tanning originally started as a scientific experiment on the sun’s effect on athletes. A German researcher installed artificial lights to monitor the athletes progress, and instead the world discovered an incredibly toned and tanned sports team. A new industry was started, and indoor tanning became a popular way to stay golden brown year round. While these indoor tans look just a great as a tan from the beach, there are also dangers associated with these tanning beds. Recent improvements have made the artificial beds safer for use, and it is now possible to get a gorgeous and healthy tan in a tanning bed.
To safely tan indoors, with artificial lights there are a few tips you should always follow:
- Always apply a tanning lotion before laying down in a tanning bed. Not only will the bronzing lotion help to safely darken the skin, the creams also contain hydrating moisturizers that can keep your tan looking great longer.
- Protective eye wear should always be worn when tanning. If you are worried about the embarrassing white tan lines forming around the eyes, there are bronzing lotions that are designed for this sensitive area. Over exposure to the UV rays can cause severe eye problems, including loss of vision.
- To develop a good, protective base tan, it is recommended that no one sty longer than 5 minute in a tanning bed at a time. This is especially true for lighter skinned people.
Spray tans are becoming a popular alternative to sunbathing either outdoors or under artificial lights. While you will not get the benefits, such as Vitamin D and increased melanin production, you also will not suffer from any of the harmful side effects of to much UV light. Spray tans are a safe and quick way to get the golden color you want, in only a short period of time. While there is nothing new about fake tans, they have dramatically improved over the years.
Fake tans were first introduced in the 1960’s, by Coppertone, and have remained a mainstay in the beauty and cosmetic aisle. While they were first known for the strange orange color that they used to turn the skin, today’s modern spray tans are both natural looking and beautiful. The active ingredient in the spray tans is a food coloring additive that is already used in many of our food products. It simply causes the melanin, skin pigmentation, to gradually darken. A spray tan will usually last up to one week, but it may need to be refreshed every few days. Like any other tan, as the skin cells naturally slough off, the tan will begin to fade.
Tips for a Gorgeous Sunless Tan
Spray tans are one of the most common types of sunless tans, but there are also bronzing creams and lotions available as well. To not only start with a beautiful tan, but to keep it looking fresh longer,
- Always make sure to exfoliate the entire body, paying special attention to the rough places like the elbows and knees.
- Never shave directly before apply either a tanning lotion or a spray tan. Shaving can open small pores which can cause dark spots to appear in the tan, especially on the legs.
- Always apply a moisturizing lotion after a sunless tan. Regular moisturizing will also help the tan to last longer. As the skin naturally dries out, the dead skin cells fall off causing the tan to fade.
It is also a good idea to always do a test patch first. This will help to prevent any allergic reactions from occurring, along with making sure the color is the right shade for your skin.
Everything You Need to Know About Tanning
Getting a beautiful and healthy tan is possible, whether you are indoors or outside. With the additional knowledge of the benefits and dangerous of the sun’s UV rays, you can safely tan no matter the season. Simply remember to always use sunscreen, and protect the sensitive eye area, and you can have a gorgeous tan, no matter the season.