Life is better with a tan. Good times, tan lines. Glowing skin is always in. 

These are just a handful of taglines associated with photos of people laying out for hours in the sun or the Facebook check-in appointment at the tanning salon to get a good base before spending hours in the sun. However, there is no such thing as a safe tan. The skin darkens in color due to the exposure to UV radiation which produces melanin, but this pigment change is really a sign of damage and the skin’s way of protecting itself. Long-term sun exposure risks are serious. The sun’s impact on the skin can lead to sunburn, dark spots, wrinkles, damaged skin cells, less skin elasticity, leathered skin and skin cancer. 

There are a lot of myths surrounding the necessity of Vitamin D and how the best source is from the sun. If our bodies require vitamin D for absorbing calcium to build and maintain strong and healthy bones as well as for cellular function, how can time in the sun be a bad thing? One of the biggest challenges faced in dermatology and skin cancer prevention is the misinformation on vitamin D metabolism. The reality is that most people are not vitamin D deficient and can easily incorporate enough vitamin D through foods and supplements. Spending time outdoors exposes the skin to sunlight and even with sunscreen, the skin reaps the advantages of absorbing vitamin D while also blocking the harmful effects of UVA and UVB rays. 

When ultraviolet rays hit the skin, cells in the epidermis are damaged. The increased blood flow is what causes the redness reaction of a sunburn as feel as the feeling of heat on the skin. Repeated sunburns are a main culprit in developing various forms of skin cancer including melanoma. To best protect the skin, a broad-spectrum SPF of 30 or greater should be applied on all exposed areas of the skin every 2 hours while outdoors. Make sure to reapply after swimming or using a towel. There are 2 primary types of sunscreen-mineral and chemical. Mineral sunscreens contain physical blockers, zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, that sit on the surface of the skin to reflect UV rays away from the skin. Chemical sunscreens contain avobenzone or octisalate that absorb UV rays like a sponge in deeper layers of the skin. Either option will block UVA and UVB rays, if it’s broad-spectrum, it’s a personal choice of which you prefer. Dermatologists recommend getting into the habit of incorporating sunscreen into your daily care routine, so you have it applied before you even leave home in the morning. For the look of a tan without the risks, add self-tanning drops to your lotion or use a tinted moisturizer with SPF built in. You can have the healthy glow you desire while keeping your skin healthy too. 

For a skin evaluation to check for signs of aging, irregular moles, and skin cancer, call THE CENTER for Advanced Dermatology at 602-867-7546 or book your appointment conveniently online at WEBSITE.