When we tan, what are we REALLY doing to our skin? A sun tan is something that naturally occurs when a particular kind of sun radiation, called UVA, stimulates our skin to develop melanin pigment (the stuff that gives our skin its color). The problem is, when we try to tan naturally under the sun, we’re also exposed to UVB rays, which are the rays that cause sunburn and skin cancer. To avoid this, many people use tanning beds instead.
Tanning beds use special lights that deliver UVA radiation to our skin while, at the same time, filtering out most of the UVB radiation. However, recent developments have made it clear that the same UVA rays that give our skin its color also destroy collagen, leading to:
- Increased signs of aging
- Sagging skin
Believe it or not, it turns out that approximately 80% of the skin damage we see at age 60 is due to the damaging UVA exposure we received BEFORE our 18th birthday! That alone may make you think twice before jumping into another tanning bed. As Dr. B points out, youthful, tan skin caused by sunlight or tanning beds will ultimately result in more aged, wrinkled skin than if one had never intentionally tanned in the first place.
So how can we get that lovely, golden tan without risking damaging our skin? One solution is to use sunless tanning products, which dye the outer, dead skin cell layer to mimic a real sun tan. Unfortunately, this coloring typically wears off after a few days as our outer skin cells shed. That’s why Dr. B recommends exfoliating BEFORE using sunless tanning products to prolong their effects by as much a week or more. An excellent way to both extend the length of effectiveness of those products AND to get even coloring is to use Theraderm NuPeel® Natural Enzyme Peel over all the skin areas you want to “tan” before applying tanning products. This will ensure that your skin not only LOOKS young and healthy, but actually will be for many years to come.
But if you do spend time outdoors in the sunshine, protect your skin with Theraderm Platinum Protection Sunscreen. It provides broad-spectrum cooverage and is oil-free so it won't clog your pores.