Tan, bronzed skin has long been a popular beauty look, but tanning your skin isn’t always a good idea for your health. By now, you probably know that sun damage can lead to fine lines and wrinkles, not to mention other skin care concerns. But what about indoor tanning—are tanning beds safe? Below, we’re sharing the key things you need to know about the dangers of tanning—from sun tanning and tanning bed dangers to how to tan safely.
HOW DOES TANNING WORK?
Before we talk about the potential dangers of tanning, let’s discuss what causes skin to become tan in the first place. The Skin Cancer Foundation states that tanning is caused by exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation—whether from the sun or a tanning bed. This UV exposure causes genetic damage to cells on your outmost layer of skin, per the Skin Cancer Foundation, which triggers your skin to produce melanin to prevent further injury. And that melanin production is how your skin darkens after sun exposure or tanning bedding use. Over time, the cell damage that can be attributed to UV rays and lights builds, just as your tan does.
THE DANGERS OF TANNING
Since you now know that tanning causes genetic damage to skin cells, you probably realize there are dangers involved in tanning. What are they? Here are two of the most common risks of tanning, courtesy of the Skin Cancer Foundation.
Tanning Danger #1: Skin cancer. The most talked about danger of tanning, worldwide, per the Skin Cancer Foundation, there are more skin cancer cases that result from indoor tanning than there are lung cancer cases due to smoking.
Tanning Danger #2: Skin aging. Aside from skin cancer, tanning can also lead to visible signs of aging. It accelerates the appearance of wrinkles, dark spots, and weathered skin. Who wants that?
ARE TANNING BEDS SAFE?
You know that tanning is bad, but what about tanning beds? Are they safe? Or, at least safer than the sun? Like we touched on earlier, tanning bed expose your skin to UV radiation just like the sun does—AKA, they are still dangerous for your skin. In fact, according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), there’s no such thing as a safe tanning bed, tanning booth, or sun lamp.
HOW TO TAN SAFELY
What about if you don’t burn? Is it safe to tan then? Unfortunately, whether you tan or burn, even if you have a base tan, won’t make a difference. The AAD states that every time you tan or burn, you damage the DNA in your skin. And the more you damage your skin’s DNA, the greater your risk of getting skin cancer, according to the AAD.
If you’re wondering how to tan safely, there are options for doing so. Yes, you don’t have to sacrifice tanned skin—just your method of getting it! Instead of laying out by the pool or booking an appointment at your tanning salon, opt to get sun-kissed skin with the help of a self-tanner. The safer way to tan, you’ll be left with a straight-off-the-beach glow without any unwanted UV exposure. Take your pick from our best self-tanners, below.
If you want a self-tanning mousse…try the L’Oréal Paris Sublime Bronze Self-Tanning Water Mousse. The lightweight, clear self-tanning mousse has a hydrating formula that’ll leave you with a natural tan look and even finish.
If you want a self-tanning lotion…try the L’Oréal Paris Sublime Bronze Hydrating Self-Tanning Milk Medium. The gradual self-tanning lotion hydrates and nourishes skin while delivering an even, bronzed glow.
If you want a self-tanning towelette…try the L’Oréal Paris Sublime Bronze Towelettes for Body. These single-use wipes are convenient and easy to use, leaving you with a streak-free, natural-looking tan.
If you want a self-tanning serum…try the L’Oréal Paris Sublime Bronze Self-Tanning Serum. The long-lasting, streak-free, no fuss formula is quick-drying and foolproof for skin that looks radiant in every climate.
If you want a self-tanning mist…try the L’Oréal Paris Sublime Bronze ProPerfect Salon Airbrush Self-Tanning Mist Medium Natural Tan. The super-fine 360-degree continuous mist coats skin evenly thanks to the wide-angled jet applicator, which allows for ultra-even application and natural-looking, streak-free results.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU’RE IN THE SUN
You know how to fake a tan with self-tanner, but what should you do if you’re still going to be in the sun? It’s easy enough to avoid tanning beds, but we can’t simply avoid the sun. Here’s what to do: Take the Food & Drug Administration’s recommendations and use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF value of 15 or higher every day, reapply at least every two hours, seek out the shade, and wear protective accessories like UV-blocking sunglasses. (For your sunscreen needs, consider a moisturizer with SPF, like the L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Triple Power Day Lotion SPF 30.)
Next up: Is your phone affecting your skin? Read our article, This is How Blue Light Affects Your Skin, to find out.