The movies and television dramas have always portrayed the image of a sunshine babe or hunk frolicking on the beach or suntanning on the pristine beaches in Miami or Copacabana, with a beautiful golden tan that envelopes her or his skin. And we all want to be like them. But do you also want their damaged skin and the wrinkles and fine lines that appear on their faces due to the long hours under the sun? Just so you know: A lot of these ‘golden tan’ looks that you see on television or the big screen are actually achieved by make-up and the use of bronzers.
How Do You Get a Tan?
The body produces melanin, which is a pigment that gives us our skin colour. The darker your natural skin colour is, the more melanin you have in your skin. Melanin is produced by the body to protect the skin from damage. As you get exposed to the sun’s rays, your body will produce even more melanin to protect your skin from further damage. And that is how you achieve a tanned look.
Dangers of Tanning
Whether you are tanning under the natural sunlight or plonking yourself down on a tanning bed in a tanning salon, you are exposing your skin to ultraviolet (UV) rays, which, over a period of time, translate to skin damage, such as skin cancer or premature aging. So slather on that bottle of sunscreen, if you want to prevent pesky wrinkles, sun spots and pigmentation.
Is There a Safer Way to Tan?
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but unfortunately, no. As long as you are exposing your vulnerable skin under the sun or UV rays on a tanning bed, you are creating an avalanche of damaged skin cells. That is a ripe recipe for skin cancer or premature aging.
The only thing you should want burning are your calories, and not your skin. So be kind and do your skin a favour by limiting the number of hours you spend under the sun. If you do have to be under the sun due to work commitments, always ensure that you are sufficiently covered in sunscreen or protective clothing.
Dos and Don'ts of Sunscreen
Just because you are slathered up with sunscreen does not mean you are entirely safe from the harmful UV rays. Not many sunscreens offer the sun protection we think they claim to do.
Do Apply Sunscreen 30 Minutes Before You Head Out
If you have actually read the label on the sunscreen bottle, you will notice this one-liner that says ‘Apply to skin XX minutes prior to sun exposure.’ The amount of minutes could vary among the different labels, but all labels will advise you to apply sunscreen from between 15 to 30 minutes before you head out under the sun. The reason behind this is to allow the sunscreen to be fully absorbed by your skin, in order to be effective.
Do Reapply Sunscreen Every Two Hours
The sun protection factor (SPF) of your sunscreen is effective for only two hours after you apply it. What this means is the sunscreen will start losing its effectiveness after two hours. Therefore, in order to reap the sunscreen’s SPF benefits, you have to reapply it again after two hours. For ladies who have make-up on their faces, there are now sunscreen mists that you can spray onto your face, without fear of smudging your make-up.
Do Apply Sunscreen Even on Cloudy Days
Just because it is a gloomy and overcast day, it does not mean that the clouds will block out the UV rays. Clouds can only block out about a certain percentage of the sun’s rays, so that means you can still be exposed to the harmful rays.
Do Apply Sunscreen on Dry Skin
When you get into the water, the sunscreen you had applied earlier on tends to be ineffective. Even if you are using waterproof sunscreen, do make sure to towel dry yourself first before reapplying sunscreen again.
Don’t Forget to Apply Behind Your Ears, Neck Area & Top Of Your Feet
Most of us will apply sunscreen on the face, and on the arms and legs. But we all tend to forget that these places, like the ears, neck and top of your feet, are also exposed to the sun and should be sufficiently protected as well. The best way to apply sunscreen? Just apply every part of your skin.
Don’t Just Blindly Purchase Sunscreen with the Highest SPF
Just because a sunscreen is labelled ‘SPF 100’ does not make it the most efficient and effective sunscreen around. SPF 30 filters out 97% of UVB, while SPF 50 filters out 98% and SPF 100 filters out 99%. The higher the SPF, it creates a higher false sense of security for people who think that they do not need to reapply as often as they should.