Sunshine’s effects are more than skin-deep
Sun tanning has a glamorous past in Western culture, when a golden body marked an affluent and healthy lifestyle. That glamour has faded with the advent of today’s health-before-beauty mantra, but many still yearn for that sun-kissed glow. The effects of ultraviolet radiation are numerous, and while the sun’s rays definitely bring some positive aspects, they are overshadowed by the negative results. These days, tanning is more about finding healthy alternatives to radiation rather than maximizing the sun’s browning effect.
UVA and UVB rays are responsible for darkening your skin, though each type reaches a different depth. Since UVB rays can cause sunburn quite easily, most tanning salons allow only a small amount of UVB light to hit your skin, mimicking the effect of the sun. However, when it comes to UV radiation, the source is not significant. Whether you choose to get your tan from the sun or from the controlled light and heat of a tanning bed, you will reap the same rewards and face the same risks.
Beware of the Bed
Don’t be fooled by the “controlled” radiation in tanning beds—in fact, some indoor tanning beds can expose you to five times more harmful radiation than the sun. And while many tanning salons claim that a base tan will increase your skin’s natural defenses against the sun, the improvement is negligible—you can expect your skin to gain a mere 2 to 4 SPF with a salon tan, which will do next to nothing in the fight against harmful rays. The bottom line is that all types of tanning can harm your body, and the only way to dodge UV-induced skin cancer is to block that UV light from reaching your skin.
Perhaps the most familiar and accepted way to enjoy the sun without the damage is to use a sun block or suntan lotion that keeps out the UV rays. Today you can find a range of hypoallergenic lotions that are designed to moisturize without clogging pores, and other lotions made from natural plants ingredients and organic compounds to decrease the risk of chemical irritation. Combine a good sun block with a quality sunless tanning lotion, and you can have the best of both worlds.