With summer right around the corner, we're all probably feeling the need to spend hours underneath the summer sun. Being cooped up in the house, we've lost our beautiful glow and it's about time we get it back. There's a lot of information surrounding tanning and its effects on our skin, but a lot of it includes misinformation. So before you step out to get your healthy glow, arm yourself with knowledge and read these top 5 myths about tanning.
The biggest myth surrounding tanning is that it can be considered healthy. To put it plainly, NO AMOUNT OF TANNING IS CONSIDERED HEALTHY. We must remember that tanning is the result of ultraviolet rays damaging our DNA causing the melanin in our skin to flood the exposed areas in an attempt to protect us from further damage. This means that the healthy glow that we're looking for is actually a symptom of genetically damaged skin.
We all grew up knowing that the sun provides us with our daily dose of vitamin D. Some of us even believe that without substantial sun exposure, there's no way to get the vitamin D you need. But this is simply not true. While the sun does rain down a continuous supply of vitamin D, you don't need to damage your skin (or "tan") in order to get it. Spending a reasonable amount of time in the sun with protection should be enough. However, if you find yourself vitamin D deficient, you can opt for milk or oral supplements.
While it's true that people with darker skin are more protected from the sun's harmful UV rays than fair-skinned individuals, this does not mean they are immune to the DNA mutation that occurs. The natural protection provided by melanin can only do so much. Overexposure to radiation, no matter how much melanin you have, will result in damaged skin cells and mutation of DNA. This is what ultimately leads to skin cancer. So no matter how dark your complexion is, you are still at risk if you refuse to wear sunblock when going out.
A sunburn is a clear indication that you have spent way too much time in the sun. But this doesn't mean that there was a safe period before the burning began. Think of it as if there's two stages of damage. In the first stage (tanning), your body reacts to the harmful radiation and redistributes melanin to protect the skin, causing your complexion to darken. In the second stage (sunburn), the melanin is no longer able to withstand the constant barrage of radiation, so the skin begins to burn and the DNA mutates paving the way for skin cancer to develop. So, whether you get a sunburn or not, tanning is never a good idea.
So many people believe that tanning beds are a safer alternative to sun tanning. The fact if the matter is, tanning beds are simply a man-made version of the radiation emitted from the sun. UVA and UVB rays are the harmful rays attributed to skin damage and being exposed to them in any capacity can truly be harmful. Since tanning beds still exposes you to the radiation, you are still at risk of developing cancer.
Even though there isn’t a healthy way to truly tan, this doesn’t mean you should avoid the sun. Just be sure to wear the right amount of protection before stepping out. Here’s some info on how to best protect yourself from the sun.