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Tanning: Myths and Clarifications

Updated on February 21, 2017

Many people consider summer as a great time to show off a gorgeous beach-tanned body. Hundreds are all jazzed up to put on their swimwear and head on to the beach. Others would even try going in a tanning bed for a quick fix.

However, before you get to have your own take on tanning, here are some things to learn and consider. You must understand the effects of ultraviolet (UV) rays to your skin. Then, dispel some of the myths about tanning and learn some tips in getting the proper sunscreen.


What are UVAs and UVBs?

These are the enemies of our skin. They are kinds of ultraviolet (UV) radiation that come from the sun.The World Health Organization offers a more detailed description of the UV radiation.

Prolonged exposure with these causes different changes in our skin and even our cell structure.

The difference:

UVAs penetrate glass and clothing, and damage deep skin tissue. This causes wrinkles, sunspots, and leathery skin.

UVBs affect the outer layer of the skin. It is the main reason behind sunburn and most skin cancer.

What happens when you tan?

Many enjoy the beauty of having a properly tanned body. However, because of this, many people neglect the fact that tanning can cause damage to our skin. Most people try to think of the warnings as simple myths. Here are some of the common myths we hear and the truth among them.

Do you think having a tan gives you a "healthy glow"?

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Sun tanning can be a danger to your skin when you stay too long under the sun
Sun tanning can be a danger to your skin when you stay too long under the sun | Source
Indoor tanning could be more dangerous
Indoor tanning could be more dangerous | Source

Tanning can cause Skin Cancer

Too much exposure with UV radiation increases your risk of skin cancer. Whether you get tanned in a tanning bed or outdoors, there is still a danger. It is even more so indoors because the rays are more focused in a tanning bed unlike moving around under the summer sun.

Tanning Leads to Premature Aging

Skin eventually ages through time, but with UVA and UVB, you might just speed up the process. When we are under the sun for a prolonged period of time, UV rays have an effect to our skin which can cause photoaging. The time when your skin starts to grow old and produce wrinkles and age spots.

Skin Cancer is a Woman's Disease

This is false!

Having skin cancer is not mainly based on gender. The person's exposure to UV causes changes to our cell structure. This is when abnormal skin cells develop which can lead to skin cancer.

This illness can affect anybody.

Men might even be more prone to this because nowadays women are being more cautious in protecting themselves from the harmful rays of the sun while men are still mostly carefree about this. This is why many health organizations are trying to inform the public about this condition.

Cold or cloudy day is safe from sun exposure


Sun rays can still penetrate through clouds so it's better to put on sunscreen daily whenever you go out. Many people think that once they don't see much sunlight, they are also safe from the harmful effects of UV radiation. Even other weather elements, like snow, water, and sand reflect about 85 % of the sun's rays. This being said you can still get sunburned even when you are skiing.

People with darker skin are safe from sun damage

There some truth and some false ideas to this myth. People with darker skin have more melanin and yes, are less susceptible to sun damage. But, this does not make them (us) immune to skin illnesses.

It could even be more dangerous for people with darker complexion because detection of the illnesses is more difficult to see. Like melanoma, it is not common for people with darker skin, but when it does, it's more fatal. This is because most of the time detection of the illness is already at an advanced stage that prevention or treatment is already too late. The skin color and skin cancer associations could be further understood through constant reading and, if possible, seek professional help.


How to Protect from UVA and UVB?

Your armor would be sunscreen.

This is very important, but many forget to use this.

Sunscreen protects the skin from all forms of damage. May it be wrinkles or skin cancer, sunscreen is your choice of defense. However, there are still things to consider when you purchase sunscreen. Here are some tips:

  • SPF (Sun Protection Factor)

The number equivalent of the SPF indicates its strength. For instance, an SPF 15 means it delays the onset of a sunburn 15 times longer. So, if a person would burn in 10 minutes it will be in 150 minutes instead.

*My personal note: Find products with SPF30 or higher. This doubles the effect of SPF 15, but other higher than 30 offers not much more.

  • When to apply sunscreen?

When necessary. This means for example:

-for work or simple daily application: before going out in the morning, then reapply before lunch or mid afternoon.

The sun's peak is from 9AM-3PM.

-for outdoor vacation: choose a water-resistant sunscreen and apply 30 minutes before you go out, then reapply every two hours.

Protect as Much as Possible


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