That golden, tanned skin is quite covetable, yes. But is it worth the harm to your skin, even if you get it via a sunbed?
A tan is your body’s attempt to protect itself from the damaging effects of harmful UV rays – and with good reason.
Sunbeds are tanning machines that release ultraviolet (UV) rays close to your skin. The nearness means that the UV rays can stimulate the production of melanin in your skin, which is what enables your skin to tan.
Risky skin business
Sunbeds emit bigger doses of ultraviolet rays (UV) rays than the sun does during its peak hours.
These harmful rays can age your skin prematurely, making it look uneven, wrinkled and leathery. Tanning for long stretches, and particularly on sunbeds, can damage the DNA in your skin cells. This destruction may build up to cause skin cancer. UV rays harm your skin in many ways and people who are exposed to UV rays before the age of 25 have a higher risk of developing skin cancer later in life.
Research by the IARC (International Agency for Research on Cancer) found that sunbeds boost the risk of melanoma (the most serious form of skin cancer) by 16-20%.
Before trying out a sunbed, know this:
You can still damage your skin, even if you don’t burn
Turning lobster red may seem like the only cause for concern when it comes to tanning, but UV rays are so strong that they penetrate deep into your skin’s layers. This means that you don’t have to roast in the sun for hours or have your skin change colour for harm to be done. In fact, the damage may be done to your cells even before your skin changes colour.
You don’t need a sunbed to get enough Vitamin D
Step away from the sunbed if you think it’s your only route to getting enough Vitamin D. You can get your daily dose by spending some time outside where the UV rays aren’t as dangerous. Just be sure to slather on the sunblock. You can also get enough Vitamin D from dairy products, fish and fortified cereal. Talk to your doctor about a supplement if you have a deficiency.
Sunbeds don’t help you build a natural defence against the sun’s rays.
The common myth that sunbeds can help make you less vulnerable to the sun’s rays isn’t true. Getting a tan from a sunbed only gives the same protective effect as using sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of approximately 2-3.
Sunbeds won’t give you a better tan
Don’t hop into a sunbed to increase your tan because it’ll only do you more harm. It will just make your skin more wrinkled and coarse. Rather, enjoy the sun safely with an SPF of at least 15. Tanning gradually isn’t safe either. Short periods of intense UV ray exposure can still harm your skin.
Good to know
- Soothe overexposed or sunburnt skin (caused when you haven’t applied enough sunscreen) with coconut oil to prevent itching and peeling. First apply a cool, damp towel to the affected area for at least 15 minutes. You can also take a 15-minute cold bath or shower. Once your skin has cooled, smear on the coconut oil.
- Prevent sun damage by wearing a wide-brimmed hat, a summer scarf, sunglasses and sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 or higher. Reapply your sunscreen every two hours.
- If you spend a lot of time in the sun, talk to your doctor about going for an annual screening to detect possible early signs of skin conditions like melanoma.
- Drink at least eight glasses of plain water a day to keep a balance of moisture in your body and skin. Drink thrice the amount if you drink caffeinated beverages.