How do you get that coveted tan while keeping your skin beautiful and healthy? Read the complete guide and be ready for sunbathing!
It is said that the great Coco Chanel was a trendsetter for tanning. Returning from a cruise on the Mediterranean Sea, she went to show Parisians her luxurious bronze hue. And then, following the example of Mademoiselle Chanel, European fashionable women parted with wide-brimmed hats, fans and veils and began to expose their once aristocratic-pale faces to the sun. The tanning controversy has been raging ever since. Some say that the ultra-violet rays are beneficial: they help the body produce vitamin D and dry out oily skin. But others warn of the dangers of protracted exposure to the sun, including photoaging, pigmentation problems, and even cancer. But nevertheless every summer there are always more and more happy bronzed skin owners on the streets, casting envious glances at those who have not yet had time to go on vacation. So is it possible to get a beautiful tan without harming your health? Follow some simple recommendations.
Do not self-medicate! In our articles we gather the latest scientific data and opinions from reputable health experts. But remember: only a doctor can diagnose and prescribe treatment.
- Prepare for a tan in advance
Scientists have proven that sunlight helps release vitamin D, which boosts your immune system and improves your mood. But to get a better tan, you’ll need other vitamins, too. First of all, vitamin A. Its positive effect on the skin, including its pigmentation, has long been known. In addition, vitamins C, E and A are powerful antioxidants that fight free radicals produced in the skin under the influence of UV radiation. The action of these free radicals leads to premature aging, hyperpigmentation and skin cancer. Antioxidants are precisely designed to counteract such dangerous effects. So if you’re planning on getting the best tan you can without harming your health, take these vitamins and include carrots, tomatoes, apricots, citrus fruits, seafood and spinach in your diet.
Carrot juice is high in beta-carotene, a pigment that, like melanin, is deposited in the skin and can give it a yellowish hue. That way, it can better prepare your skin for the sun. But remember, the deposit of beta-carotene is not a tan.
- Protect your skin even in the water
The surface of the water reflects the sun’s rays, which means that your chances of getting a tan near a pool or body of water are increased many times over. But with that comes an increased risk of sunburn. Sand, concrete, and even snow also reflect more than half of the sun’s rays, which then penetrate the skin. Use water-resistant protective products. Thanks to special water-repellent ingredients, these products will effectively protect your skin while you’re swimming, too. Try not to stay in the water for too long, and reapply when out on dry land. Wipe your skin thoroughly after swimming, as water droplets left on your skin like micro-loupes amplify the sunlight, which can also cause burns and damage.
- Choose a sunscreen
To reduce the negative effects of the sun on our skin, we first need a strategic stock of sunscreen with a high SPF. SPF is a “sun protection factor” that is calculated on the basis of the minimum erythemic dose, that is, the time of sun exposure, after which redness on the skin occurs. Naturally, for each skin type and shade this indicator will be individual: for blondes and redheads SPF is required at least 25-30, and for brunettes – 15-20. The closer to the equator, the higher SPF level is worth choosing – 50-60.
Many women with dark skin consider that they do not need sun protection at all, as their skin already has a dark tone, which means that they do not risk getting burnt. True, they are by nature more protected from B-rays (those that cause sunburn). But skin tone does not protect from dangerous rays of groups A and C that provoke premature aging and cancer, and it is impossible to do without SPF-factor compensators.
Choosing a sunscreen, pay attention not only to your skin’s natural color, but also take into consideration how long you are going to stay on the beach or in the street. The level of SPF-protection you need is also affected by the exposure time. If you are planning to spend an hour or two at the beach, you should choose a product with a higher SPF level.
It’s just as important to choose the right product texture. If you use protective creams in winter, you might need to buy a new tube in summer. Winter products can be too hard on your skin during the warmer months. Those who have oily or acne-prone skin should switch to lighter, non-greasy gels and fluids. If your skin is dry, you can use a cream that combines moisturizing and protective properties. Well, if you have sensitive skin, you should not choose products that contain chemical sunscreens (substances that absorb light and come into contact with the skin). They are quite allergic and can cause irritation. In that case, it is best to protect your skin with physical sunscreens which create a reflective screen, or to apply a product with physical protection underneath the “chemical” one.
A product with an SPF factor should be applied to the skin 15-20 minutes before going outdoors. Do not forget to cover the shoulders under the straps of the swimsuit, the ears and the neck. Repeat the procedure every two hours, as the cream rubs off on your clothes and towel.
Protect your eyes with dark glasses, and wear a wide-brimmed hat or headscarf to protect your hair.
After sunbathing try not to eat immediately, especially fatty and spicy food, because the overheated body will be very difficult to digest it.
Drink plenty of still water.
Taking care of special areas of the body
There are areas of our skin that should be treated with extreme caution and, if possible, hidden from the sun. So, if you have a lot of moles on your body, you should be careful, because under the influence of UV rays they can grow into a malignant tumor – melanoma. The presence of moles, or nevi, as they are called by doctors, should not bother you, but it is worth periodically examine them for changes. There are several ways to tell if a mole is dangerous. If it changes size, is irregularly colored or has an irregular shape, you should consult a dermatologist and oncologist before going to the beach. To protect moles and age spots from UV rays, sunscreens with a maximum SPF 50+ or sunblock should be used topically. If you don’t have a sunblock on hand, a piece of tape cut to the shape of your mole may help.
Unlike nevi, scars are unlikely to be damaged by the sun, but they cannot be discolored. After all, they are made up of connective tissue, whose fibers do not contain pigment cells. So, unfortunately, against the backdrop of a tanned skin, the scars will only become more noticeable.
- Go on vacation in the right place
Sunscreen is not a panacea for all the ills associated with prolonged exposure to radiation. It’s just as important to choose the right place to relax. Go to a place where it’s warm, but the sun’s activity hasn’t yet reached its peak. Now we’ll tell you about places to go when the borders are finally open.
For example, in May, the best place to spend your vacation is Spain. Resorts of the Canary Islands are known throughout the world, but especially stands out among them Lanzarote. The sun at this time of year is already hot enough, but not scalding. Remember that in spring your skin needs special protection, because it is not exposed to ultraviolet light during the winter. In June you can go to Greece, the sea is already warm enough for bathing, but the sun is not strong enough to harm the skin. At the height of summer is better to choose a place away from the equator. So, if you have the means, you can go to Australia in July. On the Green Continent there will be a winter that has nothing in common with ours. Queensland, for instance, has optimum temperatures at this time. Many seaside resorts are friendlier in August than in midsummer. At this time you can get a great tan in Montenegro or Croatia.
- Watch the time in the sun
Many of us, getting to the sea, on the first day tend to spend as much time as possible on the beach or by the pool. It seems that we’re here for a very short period of time and won’t have time to get a proper tan. Remember, the day after taking a shocking dose of sun, you’re likely to look like a redskin chief. Your skin cells, when exposed to a certain dose of UV light, command your pigment cells to produce melanin, which protects your epidermis from damage. With constant sun exposure, the thickness of the skin increases and the risk of getting burned decreases. But such changes can only happen to people in southern countries whose faces are constantly exposed to the sun and used to ultraviolet light. Imagine what would happen to someone who lives in a region where overcast weather prevails. His skin, which is used to the absence of UV radiation and has not produced extra melanin, would suddenly receive too much radiation, which would cause a burn. To avoid problems, moderation and careful sunbathing should be our guiding principles. After all, it is not the radiation itself that is harmful for the skin, but its overexposure. So, having arrived in the south, start sunbathing gradually. The first day should not be under the direct rays for more than 10-15 minutes. If you have good tolerance from day to day you can increase the time spent in the sun for 5-10 minutes. It is better to get a place in the southern sun in the morning – from 8 to 11 or in the afternoon – from 15-17.
- Keep your skin out of trouble
Too much exposure to the sun can lead to the most unpleasant consequences: burns, acne, premature aging, appearance of age spots, loss of collagen. It is certainly better to protect yourself from such problems, but even after they appear, you should not panic.
Everyone who has ever been on the beach knows sunburn. This is a very unaesthetic reddening of the skin, accompanied by pain, swelling, and sometimes even an increase in temperature and blisters. A burn is a kind of defensive reaction of the skin. It is used to signal the body to stop sunbathing for a while and use moisturizers and soothers. The cleansing of “sun-weary” skin should be extremely gentle and not irritating.
Another problem that can befall sunbathers is acne. It would seem that the sun should dry out oily skin and make it clearer, but it’s not that simple. Under the influence of ultraviolet radiation, our skin goes into defense mode, the immune cells responsible for health, go out to fight against ultraviolet radiation and often lose. It takes at least 10 days for them to recover. During that time, your skin is completely defenseless – its natural immune system is down. Therefore, a few days after sunbathing, you may find acne on your face and body. To avoid this, it is necessary to use sunscreens, which do not clog pores, and in no case try to “dry” rashes neither at the beach nor in a tanning bed – this will cause even greater inflammation.
Intense ultraviolet radiation can cause hyperpigmentation. The skin color that we have is the result of the activity of melanocytes, the cells that produce pigment. They are very sensitive to all the changes occurring in our body, and the main irritating factor for them is the sun’s rays. Therefore, try to use protective creams with a high SPF. If pigment spots do appear, it is worth hiding from the sun and also to refrain from peeling or waxing. In your daily care, focus on exfoliating and bleaching products that break up the pigment.
The opposite problem to hyperpigmentation is vitiligo, or hypopigmentation. In this disease, certain areas of the skin lose their ability to produce melanin and do not tan. Problems with the endocrine and nervous system may contribute to the appearance of vitiligo. It is better for people suffering from hypopigmentation to avoid sunbathing, as the pigment deprived areas will only become more visible against a tanned skin.
How does photoaging occur?
The main causes of premature aging are free radicals and UV exposure. While normal ageing causes all layers of the dermis to thin, photoaging causes the stratum corneum and epidermis to thicken. The skin becomes rough and wrinkled. That’s why young-looking skin protection is so important!
- Moisturize your skin after sunbathing
Unfortunately, the tan you get in the south washes off pretty quickly. That’s because your skin tries to return to its normal state and exfoliate the melanin-filled cells as quickly as possible. Therefore, after sunbathing, you’ll need extra moisturizing, because the UV light dehydrates your skin. Try using sunscreen cosmetics specifically labeled after tanning. They are enriched with moisturizing and nourishing components and antioxidants that remove products of photochemical reactions. Moreover, by keeping the skin at the necessary level of moisture, we prevent age-related changes, create conditions for its normal functioning and strengthen its immune properties.
What are free radicals and how do you keep them at bay?
In the course of some chemical reactions, including ultraviolet light, important electrons can be separated from skin molecules. The molecules that have become “incomplete” are called free radicals.
Their main feature is their unusual chemical activity. They try with all their might to regain their lost electrons by taking them away from other molecules. Many important skin functions are impaired because of these “radical” actions, including the restorative function.
Antioxidants can save us from these radical molecules. When a free radical reacts with an antioxidant it becomes a full molecule and stops encroaching on other people’s electrons, so the skin returns to its normal state. Cosmetics with antioxidants are very often used to prevent photoaging of the skin, they mitigate the effects of excessive sun exposure. But remember, the most effective antioxidants protect your skin when applied before you go out in the sun, not after.