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The Truth About Tanning

With Spring Break around the corner, everyone may be California dreaming about their healthy tan. But the truth is, there is no such thing as a healthy tan. Tanning, or the bodies production of melanin, is the skin’s natural way of protecting itself against the sun. Over the years, sun exposure causes wrinkles, sunspots and premature aging.  Worst of all, excessive sun exposure can increase your risk for skin cancer.  Sunscreen should always be applied when enjoying the outdoors. Sunscreens absorb, reflect or scatter the harmful UVA and UVB rays of the sun by providing physical or chemical protection.

Don’t worry, it’s a cloudy day right? Not true. Ultraviolet rays are still present whether it’s overcast or not. Snow, water and sand actually reflect 85% of the sun’s rays, making it even more important to wear sunscreen and reapply frequently. Sunlight is strongest between the hours of 10am and 4pm. If staying in the shade is not an option, then sunscreen with a cover-up, wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses to block the UV rays is your best defense.

How about getting a base tan before going on vacation to prevent yourself from burning? Sure, you may not burn, but any change in skin color or melanin production is visible proof of UV ray exposure and sun damage. Tanning beds work by exposing the skin to UV rays, which have been proven to cause skin cancer. Some tanning beds use more UVA rays than UVB rays. UVA rays may be even more likely to cause melanoma, the most deadly of skin cancers.  And if you’ve heard tanning will boost your vitamin D levels, just know that ordinary sun exposure and a balanced diet that includes dairy products, breads, fish and eggs, should provide all the vitamin D needed.

Sunless tanning products or spray tanning can give you the warm color that you desire without the potential for damage that comes from the sun. It will not provide defense against the sun’s harmful rays, so sunscreen is always advised. What will you have to show for taking such good care of your skin? Younger-looking, healthy skin that will stay attractive for years to come and the envy of all your friends!

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