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Is there such a thing as a healthy tan?

Bronzed or golden, getting a tan is usually thought of as a sign of a summer well-lived. But before you head out the door, let’s explore the question: is it healthy to get a tan?

We’ve discussed how being outside can boost your mood and your health. Exposure to the rays helps your body produce vitamin D and can boost serotonin in your brain. But does getting a tan give you too much of a good thing?

Simply put, there’s no question that getting a sunburn is bad for your skin. But research shows that getting a tan also increases your risk of premature aging and skin cancer.

Going out into the sun without sunscreen can cause serious skin damage. And leaving your skin exposed to harmful UV rays puts you at risk. These UV rays break down the collagen and elastin fibers in healthy young skin, leading to premature wrinkles.

Repeated sunburns or hours spent tanning can result in a permanent darkening of the skin, dark spots and a leathery texture.

Those with darker skin tones are still at risk. It’s true that darker skin tones have extra melanin, which makes it easier to tan. But exposure to UV light increases the risk of skin cancer and premature aging—no matter your skin tone.


Debunking myths

There’s no such thing as a base tan. The idea of getting a tan before hitting the beach puts your skin at greater risk because it further exposes you to harmful UV rays.

Tanning beds are dangerous. In fact, using a tanning bed before the age of 35 increases the risk of cancer by 75 percent, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation.


So, what can you do?

Apply sunscreen with a minimum 30 SPF each day. Of course, the higher the SPF, the more protected you’ll be. And be sure to reapply sunblock if you are in and out of the water or sweating.

Wear appropriate clothing for when you are spending lots of time outside. Wide-brimmed hats, sunglasses and long sleeves (when it’s cool enough) are great ways to protect your skin.

Keep in mind there are plenty of options to achieve a natural-looking tan with topical sunless tanning products or services.


Telehealth and you

Hop in the driver's seat on the road to a healthier you. Visit our Telehealth Services page to see how you can connect with a dermatologist.



Published on: August 02, 2022