Getting a Great Tan Safely

by Charlotte Wood
(last updated October 20, 2009)

Summer time is approaching, and you have all these great summer clothes; however, those clothes would look all the better if you had a great tan. Having a tan is a great natural accessory to any summer ensemble—it can help give you that just-back-from-the-beach look that makes your look truly summer. And yet you still hear all these scary stories of sun damage and skin cancer; tanning obviously requires extensive sun exposure, but is there a way to tan safely? Follow these tips, and you should be able to find a couple ways to make tanning a little safer.

You should recognize first of all that getting any tan involves risk. Sun rays are harmful, and you can't have sun exposure without undergoing risk. However, you can take steps to reduce potential sun damage. Even if you're tanning, you still need to wear sunscreen. Go for a low SPF, but wearing sunscreen is vitally important for the health of your skin, and your health is more important than your tan.

When you tan, only tan for a few hours at a time. Spending all day in the sun is definitely not a good idea. Spend about two to three hours out in the sun at a time; that way you can still tan but limit extended sun exposure on your skin. You don't want to tan too fast, because that is extremely damaging to your skin. By tanning slowly, you allow your body to build more defenses against the sun, plus your tan will be deeper! Make sure to keep your body moisturized, especially before and after tanning. That will help your body retain water, and by keeping hydrated, you keep your entire body healthy.

I advise against using tanning beds. Tanning beds involve intense exposure to harmful heat and UVA rays that are actually more powerful than the rays emitted from the sun. Using tanning beds is actually quite dangerous. You'd be much safer to tan with the sun, and tanning slowly at that. Sure tanning beds are quicker, but they definitely aren't a way to get a safe tan.

The only "safe" way to tan is to tan artificially. There are so many artificial tanning products on the market that can produce realistic results. While tanning lotions and creams may not be what you wanted, it's by far the safest option.

Probably the biggest thing to remember about safe tans is that there is no surefire way to get a safe tan. There is always risk involved in tanning—you can't get a tan without taking some health risks. If you're aware the risks involved with continued and prolonged sun exposure, then you can make your own decisions about how long you spend in the sun; if that means you get a tan, then great, but if not, then don't sweat it—at least you'll be healthy.

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