The Burning Truth About Sun Tanning

The Burning Truth About Sun Tanning

lady on the beach in the sun

We all love the idea of sun-kissed skin because we think that it equates to a healthy tan. The sad news for all of us however is that there is really no such thing as a healthy tan. In fact, a tan is actually your skin's way of showing you that it has been damaged by the sun’s harmful UV rays.

Ultra-Violet Radiation: What you need to know

There are a multitude of rays present in sunlight and those that are most damaging to our skin are called ultraviolet (UV) rays. Exposure to ultra violet radiation is a major risk factor for most skin cancers. Only UV-A and UV-B rays can penetrate the earth’s atmosphere and UV-B rays are responsible for causing sunburn.

UV-A rays penetrate more deeply into the skin and play a greater role in premature skin aging and wrinkle formation as they cause damage to the skin’s DNA. These rays are linked to long term skin damage as well as being thought to play a role in some skin cancers. Most tanning beds expose the skin to large volumes of UV-A which has also been found to increase the risk of skin cancer. Therefore, they are not a safer solution to sun exposure.

There are approximately 500 times more UV-A rays in sunlight than UV-B. This is why it is so important to protect your skin from the effects of the harmful UV-B rays, but also from the damaging effects of the more numerous UV-A rays. UV-C rays are the most harmful, but they cannot penetrate the ozone layer, except in areas where it has been damaged and therefore are not normally a cause of skin cancer.

Environ’s RAD SPF 15 provides a combination of physical and chemical sunscreens to deliver broad protection against UV-A and UV-B rays. It also supplies the skin with the essential antioxidants necessary for enhanced protection from harmful environmental influences.

Sun tan vs Sun burn

A sun tan is seen when the skin produces an increased level of melanin (the pigment responsible for the skin’s colour). This is the body’s attempt to help protect the skin from further damage. The increased melanin also causes the skin to darken (what some people refer to as a base tan). It is important to note that this is not enough to protect your skin from further UV exposure, burning or damage.

Sun burn can be identified by redness and peeling. When UV rays reach the skin, they damage cells in the epidermis and dermis. This causes an immune response in the body that increases blood flow and signals white blood cells to attack. The increased blood flow causes the red appearance of skin that can also be warm to the touch. The white blood cells remove damaged cells, causing itching and peeling.

Sun burn is not always evident immediately and can take up to 48 hours to develop in people with medium to darker skins. UV-A rays are known to give a delayed tan, whereas UV-B rays cause the skin to go red within a few minutes.

Remember that whilst sun burn fades, sun damage lasts.

So now that we know the facts, what can we do about them?

lady lying on the beach sun tanning

If you plan to go outdoors, you may want to check the UV index for your area. People who live in areas with year-round bright sunlight have a higher risk of skin cancer. The best thing you can do is to make sure that you give your skin the best sun protection possible.

Simple habits can go a long way in making a big difference to the health of your skin:

  • Cover-up exposed skin, especially between 10am and 4pm when the sun’s rays are strongest
  • Wear a hat and sunglasses whenever you are outside for pro-longed periods of time
  • Avoid sun tanning beds and lamps
  • Apply a sunscreen (minimum SPF15) daily. Sunscreens are degraded when exposed to sunlight and therefore frequent application (every 1 – 2 hours) will help protect against both UV-A and UV-B rays on all exposed areas.

Live your most beautiful life by reducing the effects the sun has on your skin and replacing the essential skin nutrients it needs every day. Environ experts recommend using the Environ Vitamin STEP-UP SYSTEM™ Ranges, Youth EssentiA or Skin EssentiA, together with RAD SPF15 daily. This will help you to look after the one skin you have for life.


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We all think sun-kissed skin is a healthy tan. The truth is, there’s no such thing as a healthy tan.

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