Home Skin Sun Care 10 Sun Tanning Myths Debunked: What You Need to Know

10 Sun Tanning Myths Debunked: What You Need to Know

10 Sun Tanning Myths Debunked: What You Need to Know

Aware of the danger and aging effects of sun damage, no one thinks it’s a good idea to spend oiled-up days in the sun. Yet some myths about sun tanning persist and can be dangerous for your skin. In this article from The Dermo Lab, we debunk 10 of them for better sun safety and smarter sun care.

Myth 1: You need a base tan

Many people think they need a base tan to avoid sunburn on vacation, but this is a mistake. The tan itself is evidence of skin damage. The skin appears darker because it redistributes melanin to protect itself.

But it’s not just skin damage that occurs. Tanning also damages DNA.

Repeated exposure not only darkens the skin, it also thickens and becomes leathery.

So the “healthy” tan you’re looking for today could lead to irreversible skin damage in the future.

Myth 2: The sun is strongest when it’s hottest

Surprisingly, this isn’t necessarily the case. The sun’s UV rays cause skin damage that can lead to cancer, but UV rays aren’t hot and you can’t feel them. The sun’s heat comes from another type of ray, called infrared.

UV rays are strongest when the sun is highest in the sky, i.e. between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., although this can vary from country to country. The UV index tells you the intensity of the sun’s UV rays. You’ll find the UV index on most weather reports. When the UV index is 3 (moderate) or higher, you should consider taking steps to protect your skin.

Myth 3: Sunscreen is only necessary for tanning

Sunscreen is of course necessary for tanning, but it’s also necessary whenever your skin is exposed to the sun. Use a sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 30 to guarantee sun safety at all times.

Myth 4: Sun tanning is necessary for vitamin D

If you live in a northern country where the sun tends to be scarce during the winter months, you’ve probably heard that it’s a good idea to use a tanning bed to keep your vitamin D levels up.

But that’s simply not the case. There’s no reason to damage your skin, expose yourself to the risk of skin cancer and accelerate aging, to get vitamin D. It is possible to achieve adequate levels of vitamin D by following a proper diet and taking supplements, without harming the skin.

Myth 5: Darker-skinned people don’t get sunburnt

Anyone can get sunburned, including people with darker skin. But the risk of getting sunburned, and how a sunburn looks and feels, depend on your skin type. For lighter-skinned people, sunburned skin is usually red, painful and swollen. For darker-skinned people, sunburned skin may not change color, but is often irritated, itchy, sensitive and painful.

Myth 6: After-sun products repair sunburn damage

No, they don’t. While after-sun products can soothe the unpleasant symptoms of sunburn, they don’t repair the damage to the DNA inside your cells. So, if you start to notice the signs of a burn, seek shade and cover up immediately. Don’t spend any more time in the sun that day, even with sunscreen. And don’t rely on aftersun to repair the damage, because it can’t be done. You know your skin best, so try to learn from every time you get tricked.

Myth 7: Most skin cancers are not serious

Many people have known at least one person who had a skin cancer scare. And in many cases, that person walked away with a small scar. But it’s important to know just how deadly skin cancer can be.

One in five people of all ethnic groups will develop skin cancer. And not all of them will survive. One person dies of skin cancer every hour in the United States.

If these statistics are sobering, it’s because skin cancer is a veritable epidemic. There are more skin cancers diagnosed in one year in the United States than all other cancers combined over a three-year period.

Skin cancer is a major public and personal health issue.

Myth 8: As long as you don’t burn, tanning is safe

In case it isn’t already clear, sun tanning of any kind can expose you to future skin problems.

Acute sunburn is painful and can increase the risk of melanoma. But tanning can cause photoaging and predispose you to skin cancer.

The problem is that most people ignore these future risks because they don’t see them today.

The most important thing to understand is that all sun tanning is unhealthy for the skin. There’s no reason to tan for health reasons. If you really want to look tanned, use self-tanning creams.

Myth 9: Sunburn is not possible on windy or cloudy days 

UV rays can also penetrate clouds, so protect your skin even on overcast days. Although wind is effective in cooling the body, it does not protect against sun damage and may even reduce the risk of sunburn during the day.

Myth 10: More expensive sunscreens offer better protection

They don’t. What really matters is SPF and star rating, rather than price or brand. It’s also very important to find a product that suits your skin – choose one that you find easy to apply, and whose feel and smell you like. After all, you need to use a lot of sunscreen to achieve the SPF indicated on the bottle, and you need to reapply regularly throughout the day. And if you like the feel of it, you’ll be more inclined to do it!

We get it: You feel like you look better with a tan. But you don’t have to put your skin at risk to achieve this result. There are many effective, natural-looking self-tanners and bronzers available today. There’s no reason to damage your skin if you want to look tanned.

Now that we’ve shared a few misconceptions, here are 3 simple steps you can take to protect yourself from too much sun:

  • Seek shade – Especially between 11am and 3pm. Take a break under trees, umbrellas and awnings, or go indoors.
  • Cover up – With clothing, a wide-brimmed hat and UV-protective sunglasses. Clothing should cover the shoulders. The more skin clothing covers, the better the protection.
  • Apply sunscreen – With at least SPF 30 and 4 or 5 stars. Make sure to reapply regularly and generously, especially after swimming, sweating or toweling off.

Last Updated on July 3, 2024

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