The Dangers of Tanning and How to Protect Your Skin

This summer, before you go chasing that sun-kissed glow, we encourage you to learn the risks associated with tanning. From premature aging to the dangerous increase in your chance of developing skin cancer, getting a tan is not without unwanted consequences. As expert dermatologists, we’re here to empower you with the information you need to keep your skin healthy. And don’t worry – you can still enjoy a radiant complexion without compromising your skin’s health!

Understanding the Risks of Tanning

Let’s start by shedding light on the dangers of tanning. Did you know that even a single indoor tanning session before age 35 increases your risk of developing life-threatening melanoma by 75 percent? And it’s not just indoor tanning that’s the problem. Skin damage begins with the very first tan you receive (remember those childhood trips to the beach?). Every time you tan, the damage increases, leading to more genetic mutations and a greater risk of skin problems. Regardless of your skin color or sensitivity, tanning actually injures your skin’s DNA, increasing your risk of premature aging and skin cancer:

  • Premature Aging: You may think that a tan will improve your appearance, but your future self will regret those extra hours in the sun. Prolonged exposure to UV rays accelerates the aging process, leading to the development of fine lines, wrinkles, age spots, and uneven skin texture.
  • Skin Cancer: Tanning increases your chance of developing skin cancer. Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer, and its occurrence is strongly linked to UV exposure. The more you expose your skin to UV radiation, the higher your risk becomes.

How to Protect Your Skin

Protecting your skin is critical to prevent premature aging and minimize your risk of skin cancer. You can easily reduce your likelihood of developing skin cancer AND premature aging by practicing sun safety instead of tanning. Here are some practical tips to help you enjoy the sun responsibly while maintaining optimal skin health:

  • Seek shade: Whenever possible, seek shade during peak sun hours, typically between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. This reduces your overall UV exposure and allows your skin to recover.
  • Wear protective clothing: When going out in the sun, wear lightweight, long-sleeved shirts, long pants/skirt, wide-brimmed hats, and UV-blocking sunglasses. These provide an extra layer of defense against harmful sunrays.
  • Apply broad-spectrum sunscreen: Choose a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher that offers broad-spectrum protection against UVA and UVB rays. Be sure to apply it generously to all exposed skin, including often-neglected areas like the ears and the back of the neck. Reapply every two hours or after swimming or sweating.
  • Avoid tanning: This is the best way to safeguard your skin long-term. Not only can it prevent unsightly skin damage, but it could also save your life.

How to Keep Your Skin Looking Healthy and Fabulous

You can still have beautiful skin while avoiding tanning! Here are some ways to help your skin maintain an attractively youthful, healthy glow:

  • Embrace sunless tanning: Consider safe alternatives to sun tanning, like self-tanners, bronzers, or spray tans. These products offer a natural-looking tan without the risks associated with UV exposure.
  • Hydrate: Over 60 percent of your skin is water. Your skin NEEDS water to stay healthy! A reliable daily fluid intake recommendation is 15.5 cups for men and 11.5 cups for women (this includes fluids from water, other beverages, and food). If you spend a lot of time outside, sweat a lot, or exercise, you should drink even more.
  • Eat Right: Did you know there is a connection between diet and skin health? Healthy foods make a huge difference to your skin’s health. Consume whole, unprocessed foods, antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables, and omega-3 fatty acids to promote healthy, glowing skin.

As dermatologists, our mission is to prioritize your skin health. We hope you will take these necessary steps to protect your skin so that you can enjoy a radiant complexion while minimizing your risk of skin cancer and premature aging. Remember: a healthy glow starts with healthy skin, so embrace sun safety and let your natural beauty shine!

To talk with one of our dermatologists, call Medovate Dermatology at 847.499.5500.