What Are the Risks And Alternatives Of Tanning?

Are you into tanning? If so or even thinking of doing so, read this post first. Find out the risks, possible addiction and some alternatives that you can do instead.

Are there risks in tanning?

One of the main causes of skin cancer is exposure to harmful sunrays.

If you thought that getting tanned at tanning salons was safer than the sun, please think again before visiting any salon.

Tanning beds and sunlamps are as dangerous as the sunrays.

Most of the bulbs used in the salons emit both UVA and UVB radiations that are also found in the sunlight.

And, they are responsible for both Melanoma and Non-melanoma types of cancers.

Exposure to tanning bulbs also reduces your body’s ability to repair the damaged DNA, which is caused by UV radiation.

Tanning, not only may cause cancers as the ultimate harm it can give but also prematurely ages the skin.

How many of you realize that tanning is body’s response to the damage of the skin?

Every time, you get tanned, you accumulate skin damage. There is no such thing as safe tanning.

Unfortunately, the cosmetic trends are pushing more women to tanning salons. More people are inviting cancer for the sake of the tanned look. Melanoma can kill if not diagnosed earlier.

Regrettably, the young population is not changing its behavior about getting tanned.

As they accumulate skin damage over the years, getting affected by skin cancer at later stage of their life is increasing.

Despite the warnings, many people continue to tan. They still believe that having a tan makes them look healthy, but it is actually the opposite.

A tan indicates that your skin is trying to protect itself when exposed to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun.

This UV radiation is what contributes to premature aging such as wrinkles, cataracts in the eyes, skin cancers, and altered immune systems.


What kind of UV radiation exists?

There is UVA, UVB, and UVC radiation.  UVA is the longest wavelength, and UVC is the shortest wavelength.

UVC is not a concern when it comes to tans and sunburns, as most of it gets absorbed by the ozone layer before getting to the earth.


What does UV radiation do exactly that causes so much damage?

The UV radiation penetrates the skin, which can damage and cause mutations in the cells of the skin.

UVA penetrates the skin more deeply than UVB, but both are dangerous for the cells of your skin.

Studies have shown that both types of rays are responsible for contributing to the aging of people’s skin and eyes, as well as resulting in skin cancers.

UVA rays are now known to be even more dangerous than originally thought. Still, UVA has been known as the one associated with tans and UVB with getting sunburns.

tanning bed

What do tanning beds use?  

Tanning beds often emit high levels of UVA, even higher than the sun emits.

Despite tanning salons telling their patrons that tanning this way is safer, it actually is not.

In particular, children and teens need you to teach them these dangers as they are at even more risk.

Because their bodies are still growing, it puts their cells in even more danger of mutations.


What about Vitamin D?

Vitamin D is produced in your body when you are exposed to the sun’s rays.

It is especially important in preventing osteoporosis (weak, brittle bones), but it is also important in improving your immune system functioning.

Those living in northern climates are more at risk of Vitamin D deficiencies.  But, you can get Vitamin D from some food sources, as well as supplements.

Those living in northern climates are more at risk of Vitamin D deficiencies.  But, you can get Vitamin D from some food sources, as well as supplements.

However, many people still believe, and many salons will try to convince you that tanning is a healthy way to get your Vitamin D.

Fortunately, a study was done at St. John’s Institute of Dermatology, King’s College London, has shown that you can still get adequate levels of Vitamin D by slathering on sunscreen with an SPF 15.

Some of the UVB rays pass through the sunscreen, allowing your body to produce Vitamin D.

Therefore, the tanned skin does not represent health.  It is the body’s way of trying to protect itself from UV radiation.

Whether you use the sun to tan or use tanning beds, you are putting your body at risk.

If you want to ensure you get adequate Vitamin D levels, it is healthier to take supplements.

tanning bed

Is it Possible to be Addicted to Tanning? 

Some healthcare professionals have gone on record stating that tanning is the new addiction.

After all, when you crave something so much that you will do it even when you know it is not healthy for your body, then that is classified as an addiction.

In the case of tanning, you know that the ultraviolet rays of the sun and tanning beds can cause wrinkling and sagging skin, age spots, and even skin cancer, but you still do it.  And much more continue to do it too.

In fact, the numbers of people tanning continue to increase, despite being aware of the risks and dangers it poses.


Other than enjoying the color that a tan brings, there are other reasons why people say they tan:

Their mood is better

In fact, many tanning salons will advertise that tanning will lessen the effects of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which is a form of depression that usually emerges in the fall and winter months when there are fewer sunlight hours.

However, this is not an effective treatment as SAD requires visible light (not the ultraviolet light from a tanning bed) to enter through your eyes using a special SAD lamp.


They feel relaxed

Related to the improved mood, is also the relaxation that is reported that tanning brings.  Studies have also confirmed this.

There is a release of endorphins, the feel-good hormones when exposed to ultraviolet radiation (UV).


They want to get the Vitamin D

Getting your daily dose of Vitamin D is not a common reason that people will give for tanning, but tanning salons will definitely tout this as a reason to use their services.

The truth is that sun exposure or tanning beds are not safe ways to get your Vitamin D.

Consider eating fortified dairy products or taking a supplement, this is an inexpensive and safer way than the use of UV radiation.


Could there be another reason why some people are hooked on tanning?

Studies continue into the reasons why people continue to tan, even though they know that the ultraviolet radiation is damaging to their bodies.

Some researchers also believe that some tanners suffer from Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD). This is a body-image disorder where they think that their bodies are unflattering in some way.

The reality, however, is that they do not perceive their bodies accurately in the same way others would describe their physical appearance.

Dermatologists have found that tanning makes the skin give off endorphins. These opioid compounds make a person feel good.

They are the reason endurance runners report “runner’s high.” Could there really be such a thing as tanner’s high?

Various reports suggest that frequent tanning may be a type of substance. Research says the idea came from skin cancer patients who couldn’t stop tanning.

Thus, it appears that tanning is like an addiction for some people.  Based on the information above, do you think that you could be one of those who are addicted to tanning?

tanning alternative

I Still Want a Tan – What Should I Do?

If despite all the warnings, you are still insistent that you want a tan, there are some safer alternatives to baking in the sun.

The best way is to fake it!

Fortunately, this allows you a safer way to get the warm glow you are seeking.  There are two main types of fake tans you can get – bronzers and sunless-tanning products.



Bronzers are applied to anywhere you want more color – your face, neck, arms, legs, stomach.  You simply wash them off at the end of your day.

Bronzing products come in powder, spray, or stick forms.

It is not always easy to find one that you like, so if possible, seek advice from a professional in the cosmetic industry to help you choose.

Bronzers can get on your clothing if you are not careful, so you want to be aware of that.  Certain types may dry on your skin, but powders can rub off onto your clothing.

Sunless Tanners

Recent research shows that while DHA or dihydroxyacetone provides only minimal SPF protection against the sun’s shorter-wave or UVB rays, higher DHA concentrations that turn the skin darker may provide extra protection against the sun’s longer-wave or UVA rays.

As previously mentioned, UVA and UVB are linked to premature skin aging and skin cancer.

But you can’t assume you’re adequately UV-protected just because your skin turns darker.

At best, the DHA in self-tanning lotions offers protection equivalent to an SPF of only 2 to 4.

The Skin Cancer Foundation maintains that SPFs of 15 or higher are required for adequate protection.

Hence, even if a product has a high concentration of DHA, it must also contain an SPF 15+ sunscreen if you want to be properly protected.

And remember, even if the lotion contains such as sunscreen, the protection lasts only a couple of hours, not for the duration of the color change.

The term self-tanner is the same as sunless tanners.

Sunless tanners contain the chemical, dihydroxyacetone (DHA).  Like any chemical being applied to your body, you will hear controversy surrounding its safety.

In general, it is said to be safe for using it to get a “tan.”  It is also approved to use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).


Tanning Safely

How do you tan safely? Self-tan with a Sunless Tanning Lotion! You get great golden tan without the dangers of sun burns or cancer.

Here are some things to keep in mind when using sunless tanners:

1. Be prepared to try a few different kinds to find one that you like

If you find one that you like the first time, you are very fortunate!  It is normal to have to test a few different kinds to find one that matches your skin tone.

This is because you may find some that make you look yellow or orange, and you do not want that.  With patience, you can find one that you like that looks natural.

2. Beware of the mist

You can find sunless tanners in lotions, gels, and sprays, for example.  Just be careful, if you are using a spray, that you are not breathing in the mist.

3. The color lasts about five to seven days

This is normal as you shed dead skin cells regularly.  In addition, if you are exfoliating, your tan is not going to last as long as you remove the top skin cells.

It is also advised that you moisturize the areas, that you have applied sunless tanner too, to prevent less sloughing off dead skin cells.

However, do not do this for at least four to six hours after applying the tanner, otherwise, you could end up with poor results.

4. Prepare your skin before using the sunless tanner

Make sure to have a shower or bath, shave, and exfoliate your skin using a loofah before applying the tanner.

Do not use any deodorant, and do not use lotion on your body, as this will prevent the tanner from absorbing well.

But, you can put a little lotion on your heels and hands as these areas tend to be very finicky to apply tanner to and can often appear too dark if you apply too much tanner.


Wrapping Up

To conclude, if you really want some sort of tan, the safest method is to use bronzing products or sunless tanners.

The information provided above will help you get that glow you are looking for, without the damaging rays from the sun or tanning beds.

Indeed, not all popular as what some experts and celebrities promote are exactly great.

Choose what is best for your health and for your body, both inside and outside. Look beautiful without damaging your entire well-being.







Images: pixabay.com and morguefile.com

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