In the late 90s and early 2000s, a year-round tan was as popular as velour track suits and Paris Hilton. The tan became the ultimate “look” of glowing, healthy skin, and tanning salons seemed to pop up on every corner. Suddenly, it was easy to keep your summer tan all year long. However, years later, we seem to finally be stepping away from the trend.
If the “base-tan” myth wasn’t started by tanning salons, they certainly perpetuated it with advertising that claimed getting tan before summer would prevent sunburns. However, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation, whether you tan or burn doesn’t matter in the long run, because any change in skin color from exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation is a sign of lasting damage to your skin.
Eventually, research by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) confirmed that indoor tanning, which aims to deliver high levels of UV radiation in a short amount of time, “is classified as a human carcinogen (causes cancer in humans) by the International Agency for Research on Cancer and by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.” So, aside from premature aging, wrinkles and age spots you can add a deadly form of cancer to the side effects of tanning. According to the CDC people who begin indoor tanning during adolescence have a higher risk of getting melanoma, which affects more than 80,000 and is estimated to kill over 9,000 U.S. adults this year (The Skin Cancer Foundation).
In 2014 The FDA ruled that sunlamp products required labeling, stating that “the products should not be used by anyone younger than 18, and will require specific warnings be included in certain promotional materials for sunlamp products and UV lamps.” While many states have passed legislation to prohibit the use of tanning beds for people under the age of 18, the FDA is currently proposing a national rule that would restrict tanning bed use to only adults 18 years and older.
Fortunately, with increased knowledge and legislation, more people are turning to sun protection or spray tans and away from tanning beds. In 2015, results from the CDC's National Health Interview Survey found that more than 1.6 million fewer women and 0.4 million fewer men are using indoor tanning.
So, you stay clear of tanning beds, but you spend plenty of time outdoors. How can you avoid tanning and sunburns, and prevent skin cancer?
TimeLess Tips for protecting your skin:
- Seek Shade- UV rays are strongest between 10AM-4PM, so choose shelter as much as possible during this time.
- SPF Every Day- UV rays are present during all seasons, and all weather and can penetrate light colored or thin fabrics and windows.
- Use a Good SPF- Check for expiration dates and use a broad-spectrum, water-resistant SPF 30 or higher. *Image Skincare, SkinMedica, EltaMD, ColoreScience*
- Reapply Often- Dilligently reapply every 2 hours or after swimming and sweating.