What Really Happens To Your Skin When You Tan?

July 18, 2022

What Really Happens To Your Skin When You Tan?


“There is no such thing as a safe way to tan,” says dermatologist Rita Linkner.

Traditionally regarded as the symbol of good health, many women covet the sun-kissed glow of a tan that is signature of a bronzed beauty. However, tanning has many adverse side-effects that affect your skin both in the short and long run. Learn more about what causes our skin to tan and how this process affects your skin.


What Causes Tanning? 

Tanning is a process that happens when your skin is exposed to Ultraviolet (UV) radiation. It can take place outdoors in the sun as well as indoors on a tanning bed. Tanning causes genetic damage to epidermal skin cells which stimulates your skin to produce melanin resulting in the darkening of your complexion.

It is a misconception that tanning entails benefits like treating your skin to a healthy dose of Vitamin D. In fact, tanning does not deliver Vitamin D as it is the UVA rays that cause tanning not UVB which triggers the production of Vitamin D. Moreover, damage inflicted by tanning is cumulative and can lead to a host of skin problems down the road.


Harmful Side-Effects Of Tanning On Your Skin


Sunburn, also known as Erythema, is the first and most obvious sign of UV damage on your skin. It is a short-term form of skin damage that affects the uppermost layer of your complexion when exposed to an excess amount of UV rays. Sunburns lead to an increase in blood flow to your skin’s surface resulting in redness. Your skin may feel warm to the touch, peel and feel itchy and painful.

Even though sunburns symptoms are short-term and go away after a few days or weeks, repeated damage to your skin will weaken your skin barrier and exacerbate existing skin conditions such as acne and skin sensitivity.


Premature Aging

Photoaging describes premature aging of your skin caused by UV rays exposure. Deliberate exposure of your skin to sun rays when tanning injures your skin and breaks down collagen, elastic fibres which result in visible signs of aging. A weakened skin barrier slows down the healing process of acne which increases the risk of formation acne scars and dark spots. Wrinkles, dark spots, dryness and leather skin texture are common symptoms of premature aging.

Signs of aging are difficult to reverse so prevention is key to looking radiantly healthy and youthful. Don’t put your anti-aging skincare routine to waste by tanning.


Skin Cancer

The Skin Cancer Foundation claims that 75% of people increase their risk of developing life-threatening melanoma from just 1 indoor tanning session before the age of 35.

Predisposition to skin cancer can be inherited. It can be heightened through exposure to UV rays which damages the DNA in your skin cells causing them to grow abnormally and also weaken your immune system.

“When UV light hits the surface of the skin it creates free radical species. If you accumulate enough free radicals, they start to affect how your DNA replicates. Eventually the DNA will replicate abnormally and that’s how you get precancerous cells that can, with enough sun exposure, turn into cancerous cells.” says dermatologist Rita Linkner.


Protect Yourself From The Effects Of Tanning

It is recommended to avoid tanning entirely as there is no safe way to tan. Always wear sunscreen with at least SPF30 protection to shield your skin from UV damage and reapply during the day when necessary. Achieving an enviable golden bronzed look is not impossible with the help of skin-friendly non-comedogenic makeup and sunless tanning products.

Stay safe from the short-term and long-term irreversible damage brought about by UV ray exposure. The adverse side-effects of tanning are not worth the temporary golden glow courtesy of a tanning session.


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