Are you trying to get tan this summer? Not so fast. While plenty of people enjoy getting some additional color in their skin after a long, cold winter, you have to be careful when soaking up the sun. There is a lot of misinformation surrounding tanning and its potential outcomes, so we’re here to set the record straight. Let’s explore the most common tanning myths and debunk them one by one.
Myth: A Moderate Tan is Perfectly Healthy
Reality: Tanned Skin is Damaged Skin
A nice, even tan can look great, but even the slightest darkening of your natural skin tone indicates damaged skin cells. In other words, skin that has been tanned by the sun is sun damaged skin. This doesn’t mean that everyone who gets a tan will end up with permanent damage, of course. However, regularly tanning does increase your risk of developing skin cancer. One of the best ways to reduce this risk is by avoiding tanning in the first place and protecting your skin from the sun.
Myth: A Nice Tan Will Make You Look Younger
Reality: Tanning Can Age Your Skin
Again -- the main reason people go tanning is that they like the resulting color and glow their skin receives. This doesn’t mean you or your skin will appear younger after tanning, though. On the contrary, over time, routine tanning can actually prematurely age your skin. The onslaught of ultraviolet (UV) radiation can cause your skin to dry up, emphasizing the size and depth of wrinkles and altering your skin’s texture and tone.
Myth: Tanning Indoors is Safer than Tanning in the Sun
Reality: All Types of Tanning Yield the Same Risks
There is no safe way to get a tan. Replacing sunlight with artificial UV light to tan your skin is no way to “cheat the system.” The source of said UV radiation doesn’t matter -- what matters is that your skin is absorbing this type of energy at all and that this energy is harming and mutating your skin cells. So, while you might technically avoid sun damage by going to a tanning booth as opposed to the beach, you won’t be avoiding UV damage, which is virtually the same thing.
Myth: As Long as You Don’t Burn, You Can Stay in the Sun as Long as You Want
Reality: Too Much Sun Exposure is Inherently Risky
No one enjoys sunburns, but these painful, irritating wounds provide a good incentive to seek some shade, get inside, and/or apply some sunscreen. Of course, some individuals are more or less susceptible to sunburn than others. But even if you rarely, if ever, burn from sunlight, you aren’t magically exempt from the sun’s negative effects. As mentioned earlier, even a mild tan is a form of damage caused by UV radiation, and overexposure to UV radiation is one of the most severe skin cancer risk factors. Simply put, it’s important to keep track of how much time you’re spending in the sun, especially if you don’t have sensitive skin. Otherwise, you might be putting yourself in harm’s way more than you know.
Myth: Sunscreen is Ineffective and Toxic
Reality: Wearing Sunscreen is Safe and Protects Your Skin from Harm
People may have an aversion to sunscreen for a number of reasons -- some don’t like how it smells or feels, others don’t think it really does anything, and others still worry about the various chemicals and ingredients that go into these products. But the fact remains that not only is sunscreen safe to use -- it’s a vital component in skin cancer prevention, especially if you plan on spending a lot of time outdoors. Fortunately, there are plenty of great sunscreens on the market, varying in application method, odor (or lack thereof), ingredients, and more, so you can find the right product for your preferences.
If you’re tempted to tan this summer, understand the risks. The best way to keep your skin safe and healthy is to avoid prolonged sun exposure, seek shade when possible, and protect yourself with sunscreen and light clothing. The experts at Premier Dermatology Partners are happy to give you more information on how to enjoy the sun safely all year-round. To learn more about our mission, providers, and all the services we offer, contact us today.