You’re probably aware that the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation can damage your skin. But…
In the early 1900’s, tanning was not cool.
In fact, most women in the United States and Western Europe who had tanned skin belonged to the lower class who worked outdoors.
It wasn’t until French fashion designer Coco Chanel got sunburned while visiting the French Riviera that tanning came into vogue. Arriving home to Paris tanned, her fans loved the new look and shed their full-length sleeves, hats, and parasols to soak in the sun and usher in the modern tanning age.
But as beautiful as the bronzed tone of a tan may be, don’t let it deceive you.
“A tan is not good for your skin,” says Richard Price, M.D. of Price Skin Care Clinic in Ridgeland, Mississippi. “Tanning damages your skin, increases your risk of developing skin cancer and accelerates the aging process. There’s nothing beautiful about that.”
Behind the Science of a Tan
Scientifically speaking, a tan is the body’s protective response to excessive exposure of ultraviolet (UV) radiation. When the skin senses this overexposure, it produces melanin, a pigment which darkens the skin and operates as a shield against damage.
But the protection that shield offers is limited. UV rays can break through the skin’s layers and lead to damage including wrinkles, sunspots, premature aging and worse.
Putting Your Life on the (Tan) Line
It may sound dramatic, but when you lay out at the pool or on the beach, you put your life at risk.
The longer and more frequent you expose your skin to the sun’s UV radiation, the higher your risk of skin cancer, including melanoma: a deadly form of skin cancer that affects 132,000 people worldwide each year.
The Dark Side of Tanning Beds
Some tanners may be under the illusion that tanning beds are safer than the sun. They would be wrong.
Tanning beds emit both UVA and UVB radiation, which can be even more dangerous and intense than the natural rays of the sun. For this reason, tanning beds put you even more at risk for skin damage and cancer.
Natural Skin Tone Makes a Comeback
It may not be chic, but the ‘refined’ women of the early 1900’s had it right: your natural skin tone trumps a tan.
To protect your skin from the sun’s harmful UV radiation, follow these sun-safety rules:
• Wear broad-spectrum sunscreen.
• Stay indoors or in shaded areas during the sun’s peak hours of 10:00 am – 2:00 pm
• And wear protective clothing including a hat and sunglasses.
If you have questions about your skin health or would like to schedule your annual skin screen exam, give us a call at: 601.992.3996.