Swimsuit season is almost upon us and the pressure to become a sun-kissed goddess or god before that first pool day is real. Whether you visit the tanning salon a few times, or opt for a couple of spray tan sessions, there are risks associated with both of these options and it is important to stay informed before exposing your skin to any permanent damage.
A suntan is the body’s reaction to exposure to UV rays. As the rays reach the skin, they are damaging sensitive cells in the epidermis, which causes the body to produce more melanin, hence the darkening of the skin. Though you may have your confidence boosted while that tan builds, there are major risks associated with the exposure to UV rays. Studies have shown that using tanning beds before the age of 30 increases the risk of developing melanoma by 75 percent.
Tanning salons are all over the country. They offer a variety of bed types (laying down, standing, etc.) in order to achieve the tan you desire. The beds themselves contain fluorescent tubes that emit Ultraviolet (UV) Rays, which is the same type of radiation found in natural sunlight. There are two types of radiation in the rays; UVA and UVB rays. The UVB rays are responsible for skin burning and make up about 5% of the rays, and the UVA rays are what cause skin aging and account for the other 95%. The bulbs used vary from salon to salon, using different levels of energy output and radiation wavelength. Regulations and laws for tanning salons are also different from state to state. That being said, a large portion of tanning salons in the United States often slide by without adhering to the state laws. It is important to go to a high quality salon that passes inspections with no questions asked.
Besides the obvious risks of skin cancer and other negative factors, researchers have found that tanning is actually addictive. The UV light used in the beds has been shown to release endorphins (the ‘feel-good’ chemicals in the brain that generate feelings of happiness and euphoria). While endorphins are great for mental health and cheerfulness, the connection between visiting the tanning salon and the release of these chemicals creates a dependency on the sunbeds. Tanning then becomes a serious habit that can lead to irreversible damages to the skin.
If you do decide to opt for tanning beds to build up a tan, it is very important to do your research on the salons in your area and find a very high quality, reliable, and safe salon. Follow these tips to ensure your safest tan:
- It is necessary to determine what skin type you have before using the beds; lighter skin tones should spend no or very little time in the beds, while darker skin tones can spend slightly more time without damaging the skin.
- Covering the eyes with protective goggles is dire. Simply closing your eyes does not protect them from the strength of the UV rays. Salons should provide you with goggles, or you can purchase your own.
- If you are on any medications, speak to your doctor before entering a tanning bed. Some medicines have been known to react badly with overexposure to UV rays.
- Avoid using ‘tanning accelerators’. These include lotions and pills that claim to increase the speed of your tan building. Most salons sell these at the front desk and will be pushy about using them, but it has not been proven to increase your tan and may have harmful chemicals.
- Protecting and moisturizing the skin are always important, but even more so when exposing your skin to UV rays. CherylLeeMD products are an amazing aid in keeping skin healthy and nourished during the summer season.
A spray on tan is made up of a liquid solution usually combining aloe vera, some form of bronzer, and a dihydroxyacetone (or DHA). DHA is a chemical that responds to the skin to produce a brown color that darkens over several hours after the initial application. Spray tans can range in cost depending on the type; booth tans, where you stand in a booth and are sprayed by a machine are less expensive, while tans applied by a professional with an airbrushing tool full of the solution are more expensive.
The benefits of spray tan are much broader than those of tanning beds. Obviously, you are not exposing your skin to harmful UV rays that cause skin cancer, but spray tans are also much quicker—in fact, they only take about 3-4 hours to set in, and about 8 hours to fully develop. Spray tanning also reduces the development of wrinkles and sunspots caused by UV rays in tanning beds. Another benefit is that you can build your tan much quicker (and safer) than when using a tanning bed. With a spray tan, you can go back and build upon the original application every 5-7 days, meaning you can get that perfect shade in about a month or so.
Over the past few years, spray tanning has become more and more popular as people are acknowledging the high risk associated with tanning in beds. Though you are avoiding harmful UV rays when spray tanning, there are still risks associated with the chemicals in the tanning fluid. The number one danger with spray tanning lies in the color additive DHA (dihydroxyacetone). Spray tans contain anywhere between 1 and 15 percent DHA, which has been found to damage DNA and cause cancer.
Although DHA has been approved by the FDA for over 40 years that only applies to external usage of the product. Though the purpose is solely for darkening of the skin, a spray bottle mists the tanning product so it is very likely that the product will make its way into your nose, mouth, or eyes at the very least. When inhaled or exposed to the eye, nose, lip area, DHA can cause severe headaches, nausea and dizziness. It is recommended to never inhale or ingest the spray, but that is practically impossible when you are standing in a booth and the entire area is filled with tiny particles of DHA. If inhaled, DHA can enter into your lungs and eventually make its way into your bloodstream, where it can wreak havoc on your body and sometimes cause cancer and genetic mutations.
Though spray tanning also has risks associated with it, many experts recommend it over baking in a tanning bed. If you do decide to opt for a spray tan, make sure the salon providing you with the tan is trustworthy and abides by all laws and regulations, as well as ensures that you are safe when the tan is applied. The following are a few tips to make sure you are protecting yourself from the harmful DHA entering into your body:
- The salon should also offer you a nose filter; a piece of plastic that will plug up your nostrils while the tan is applied. Be sure to hold your breath as long as possible as the mist is applied.
- It is important to use protective eyewear when the mist is exposed to the face. Most salons will offer tiny protective goggles to place over the eyes, but some do not recommend it, claiming that it will affect the natural look of the tan.
- Though many women do not want tan lines, it is important to cover your private areas. Studies have shown that the tanning fluid can enter into your bloodstream through any mucus membrane—including genitalia.
- Protecting the lips is important to keep the tanning fluid from entering your mouth. An easy way to do this is to wear a layer of lip balm while tanning, and then wipe it off when done.
The room or booth that you are receiving the spray tan in should be open or at the very least have proper ventilation if it is closed.
Whatever decision you make this season, keeping your body healthy should be your top concern. Tan skin may make you feel beautiful, but if it is damaged and putting you at risk for cancer is it really worth it? Moisturizing and cleansing the skin from sweat, lotions, and oils every day is important for skin health. Summer skin should always be beautiful and glowing and CherylLeeMD products can help you achieve your best skin yet!