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As soon as the summer arrives, most of us run out to one beach or another. And while swimming is a very enjoyable activity, getting a tan is also something we’d really like. This is where it gets tricky, since exposure to sun and its harmful UV rays can lead to such illnesses as melanoma and other types of skin cancer. In order to avoid that, we use sunscreen, applying it and reapplying it each few hours or so. However, other than protecting us from the hazards of sun exposure, sunscreen also diminishes our skin’s ability to tan naturally. And this isn’t a bad thing, since your skin actually gets damaged every time it gets darker from the sun. But, how do we get tanned and stay as safe as possible? Here are some suggestions.


Is sunbathing really so bad?

For many people, sunbathing is still the first choice when it comes to getting a tan. However, as mentioned above, it can be quite dangerous. Its consequences can be severe and can include different forms of skin damage, like sunburns and the consequent redness, blisters and skin that’s tight and itchy. You also might end up with sun spots and in the long term, your skin can become wrinkled and age sooner due to repeated sun exposure. However, none of these are nearly as alarming as the possibility of skin cancer and especially its deadliest form, melanoma. This is a danger all of us should be aware of, no matter what our natural skin tone is. A common misconception is that people of color can’t get melanoma. Although it’s rarer with their skin color, it can still occur. The problem is that, since they don’t expect this to happen to them, they sometimes overlook the symptoms and wait until it’s too late to visit a doctor. All of this means that sunbathing is something that you should avoid. 


Protect yourself from the sun

Avoiding sun is something you might attempt to do, but in reality, you can’t stay away from it at all times. So, if you find yourself under direct sun, there are some things you can do to protect yourself. Above all, always use sunscreen, and make sure it’s got SPF of about 30, as well that it’s a broad-spectrum sunscreen, meaning that it protects you from both UVB and UVA rays. Those with darker skin have more natural protection from melanin, which means that they can be just as safe with a sunscreen with SPF of 15 or 20. In addition, you should wear protective clothes, which should include accessories such as a hat and sunglasses, to protect the sensitive skin around your eyes. Furthermore, just because you’re outdoors, it doesn’t mean that you can’t hide from direct sun. Find some shade to reduce the intensity of UV rays on your skin and lower the risk of sunburn. 

tanning bed

Stay away from tanning beds

Here we come to another dangerous misconception. Many people think that sunbeds are a better alternative to sunbathing, and that they can’t be as harmful, as they are an artificial light source. This couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, they appear to have a more damaging effect than sunbathing, since they treat your skin with a higher UV ray count than the sun would at the hottest hour of the day. Other than this, they age your skin much faster than the sun itself. Add to this the fact that even one sunbed tanning session can increase your chances of getting skin cancer, and you’ll definitely look for another way to get the desired skin tone this summer. 

Feel free to fake it

Probably the safest way to get a tan at the moment is to use self-tanning products. This is basically fake tan, since self-tanners cause a short-term darkening by reacting with the cells which are a part of the top layer of your skin. It fades away within days, since that’s how long it takes for this layer of your skin to shed. These products are safe and normally don’t irritate your skin. Plus, they’ve evolved with time, meaning that the days of self-tanning products that left you looking like a dalmatian are long gone. Nowadays they allow you to get a fairly natural-looking tan if you use the right products and if you apply them adequately. So, choose a self-tanner which is just slightly darker than your skin color, use small amounts of it at first, and then gradually add more. Also, make sure you shave or wax before, rather than after you use the tanner, so that you don’t remove the darkened layer of your skin straight away. 

No matter how good you look with a tan, it’s only worth it if you stay safe in the process of getting it. So, follow these tips and do yourself and your skin a favor by keeping it as healthy as you possibly can.

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