Tanning is a controversial topic: while many desire the sun-kissed look and go to great lengths to achieve the perfect tan, dermatologists strictly oppose the practice because tanned skin is actually damaged skin and puts you at a higher risk of developing skin cancers.
On top of this, there are many misconceptions about tanning. Some believe that tanning is required for vitamin D production (it isn’t), and others think that getting a light “base tan” before summer will prevent sunburn (it won’t).
The Dangers of Tanning
There is no reason to tan for your physical health. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, UVA rays, the rays that cause your skin to tan, have no effect on your vitamin D production, and getting a tan does nothing to protect against sunburn.
Tanning is purely cosmetic. Even then, there are safer ways to get the tanned look without risking your skin’s health.
But first, you should know the risks that the different types of tanning carry:
Sunless tanners have come a long way since the days of streaky, orange tints. The sunless tanners used today are better formulated to give your face and body a smooth, natural-looking tan without the artificial-looking skin of years ago.
How does sunless tanning work?
Most sunless tanning products — lotions, creams, foams or sprays — work by using dihydroxyacetone (abbreviated as DHA), a chemical that reacts with the amino acids in your skin. This reaction causes the skin proteins to darken and appear as if tanned. This type of “tan” usually fades away within a few days and can be reapplied afterwards.
Evaluation by the EWG found that DHA is safe and non-toxic for almost any use.
There are sunless tanning options for every skin tone. NKD SKN offers sunless tanners in multiple forms and in shades of medium and dark. If neither shade works for you, they also have a gradual tanner that allows you to build up to your desired shade of bronze over the course of a few days.
Vita Liberata is another brand that also carries a line of sunless tanners in multiple shades, but they also offer a longer lasting 2-3 week self-tanning mousse for when you want a low-maintenance tan. This organic based formula has the added benefit of containing moisturizing ingredients like grape juice extract and aloe to help your skin feel as good as it looks.
Some sunless tanners have sunscreen built in, but the AAD says you should still apply a traditional sunscreen or use protective clothing if you plan on heading outside.
You’ll want to use a broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30+. This will help prevent UVA and UVB rays from reaching your skin. Since the rays don’t reach your skin, you’re protected from sunburn.
Blue Lizard Mineral Sunscreens are naturally broad spectrum and are suitable for all skin types. Our new 50+ SPF mineral sticks are a convenient and easy way to stay sun safe wherever you are.