There Is No Such Thing as a Safe Tan

You can’t dispute the science. The UVA and UVB rays from the sun as well as tanning beds and lamps lead to premature photo-aging at best, and skin cancer, including deadly melanoma, at worst. As beauty magazines and dermatologists advise, “The only safe tan is a fake tan.”

According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, “A tan, whether you get it on the beach, in a bed, or through incidental exposure, is bad news, any way you acquire it.” And tanning salons may pose the biggest risk. People who use indoor tanning devices are 74% more likely to develop melanoma than someone who has never visited a tanning salon or sat under a UV lamp. In the US alone, 419,254 cases of skin cancer can be attributed to indoor tanning. Out of this number, 6,199 are melanoma cases, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation.

Avoiding indoor tanning is a no brainer, but what about natural sunlight? What is the best way to protect yourself yet enjoy outdoor activities, especially in the summer?

“The new FDA guidelines explicitly state that you should wear a sunscreen with broad spectrum UVA (aging) and UVB (burning) protection. It also says you should reapply sunscreen frequently to maintain high levels of protection—a critical point,” says Dr. Obagi.

The Skin Cancer Foundation adds that you should seek shade when the sun is highest and wear protective clothing, a broad-brimmed hat, and UV-blocking sunglasses. Also, apply one full ounce of sunscreen to your body and face every two hours when you are outdoors.

In fact, Dr. Ogagi believes you should never leave the house without sunscreen on exposed parts of the body and recommends ZO® Skin Health Oclipse® Sunscreen + Primer SPF 30, which contains natural melanin that acts as a shield to fight the assault of ultra violet light on skin cells.

If you are still tempted by the illusionary enhancement of a tan remember this, skin ages 10 times faster when exposed to UV light from any source. You may not see the changes in your 20s, but textural and tone changes will appear in your early 30s, sun induced melanoma can occur in teens, and premature photo aging—lines, wrinkles, discoloration—is never a pretty sight.