How to Get a Suntan | Safety Tips & Facts

What you need to know about the solar radiation, getting a good suntan, how to choose the right sunscreen and how long it lasts, as well as how to keep your tan longer. All these questions we are answering in this article alongside with some scientific facts on this matter.

Why protect yourself from the sun

Small amounts of sunshine are healthy: it’s a source of vitamin D and the joy hormone serotonin. But getting exposed to the sun for more than 15 minutes can be dangerous to your skin. The sun’s rays penetrate the epidermis and cause burns: the skin turns red, hurts, and can blister. Sunburns can provoke the development of carcinoma and melanoma, types of skin cancer.

In regions with a lot of sun, people get skin cancer more often. For example, in Brazil it is the most common cancer type, and 60% of people over the age of 70 have it in Australia.

How to sunbathe without harming your health

Below we list some important tips to keep in mind in order to suntan properly and safely for your health.

Rule #1. Sunbathe in the morning or evening

The safest time to get a tan is before 10 a.m. and after 4 p.m. This is when the sun’s rays don’t hit your skin at the right angle, so there’s much less chance of getting burned. Do not worry that the sun does not bake and burn, – it still “works”.

Rule #2. Tan gradually

Skin takes on a golden hue thanks to melanin, the dark pigment in epidermal cells. This pigment is produced by the sun to protect skin from UV rays. Melanin is produced gradually, so you won’t get a beautiful tan all at once.

To tan, allow your skin cells to adapt and accumulate melanin. For this, tan gradually: start with 10-15 minutes in the morning or evening, adding 10 minutes every day. The rest of the time, stay in the shade. Do not let your skin get hot and red. That way you will get a sunburn, not a tan.

Rule #3. Protect yourself from the solar radiation

Solar radiation is divided into UVA rays, UVB rays and IR rays.

The most dangerous are the UVB rays. They cause skin redness, burns and provoke cancer. UVA-rays are responsible for tanning and giving the skin a bronze tint. This radiation is less dangerous, but not harmless. They have a cumulative effect and can cause photoageing: premature wrinkles, pigmentation, and sagging of the skin. IR-rays are infrared rays. They damage DNA structure and destroy collagen in the skin.

To protect yourself from the sun’s rays, use sunscreen. It will keep you from getting sunburned and reduce your risk of cancer. That doesn’t mean that if you use sunscreen, you won’t get sunburned at all. Sunscreens tend to protect primarily from dangerous UVB rays and to a lesser extent from UVA rays, which are responsible for tanning.

In order for sunscreen to work, you need to apply about two tablespoons of cream to your body and half a teaspoon to your face. If you don’t follow the recommendations, the effectiveness of the product decreases by 20-50%.

Rule #4. Choose the right sunscreen

SPF is the degree of protection that stands for Sun Protection Factor. There are means with SPF 15, 30 and 50. You should choose according to your phototype: the lighter your skin and hair, the more protection you need.

  • If you have very fair skin, red or blond hair and blue or gray eyes, you require SPF 50 with the highest degree of protection. If you have freckles or pigment spots on your face, use a special face cream with SPF 50 against age spots.
  • In case you have light skin without freckles, blond hair, brown, blue or green eyes, you are of the second phototype. Products with SPF from 30 to 50 will do best for you.
  • If you have dark hair, fair or dark skin, use sun-protection means with SPF 30.
  • Those with olive, dark, and very dark skin should also protect themselves from the sun – an SPF 15 product would be appropriate. Even if you can stand the heat and don’t burn in the sun, there may still be exposure to UVA and UVB rays.

Rule #5. Protect yourself from the sun even in the water

When you’re swimming, you don’t feel the heat, because the infrared rays won’t penetrate into the water. This makes it seem safe to be in the water – the sun doesn’t warm or burn. Nevertheless,  both UVA- and UVB-rays penetrate water surface and they, as you remember, are responsible for tanning and causing dangerous consequences. So you should also protect yourself from the sun when you are having a dip. Also, take care of the skin of the children who like to play with the sand by the water.

Rule #6. Prepare your skin for sunbathing

A scrub or mild exfoliation will remove impurities and dead cells from the epidermis. This will ensure an even tan is applied to the skin and will last longer.

Rule #7. Wipe off after bathing

Water droplets work like lenses, collecting and focusing the sun’s rays on your skin. If you don’t wipe your skin dry, you can easily get sunburned.

Rule #8. Renew your sunscreen

Apply sunscreen every two hours and after bathing. You need to renew it because sunscreens gradually lose their effectiveness when exposed to the sun.

Rule No. 9. Moisturize your skin after tanning

Because dry skin flakes off and renews itself more quickly, a suntan goes sour quickly. To keep your bronze tone longer, avoid scrubs and loofahs and moisturise your skin every day after tanning. A moisturizer with panthenol and hyaluronic acid is a good choice. It soothes and moisturizes the skin after being in the sun, prolonging the tan by half. Do not believe folk recipes and smear your skin with sour cream or oil – it can cause allergies and lead to the growth of bacteria on the skin.

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