Looking for a little fun in the sun? There is a happiness that hangs with those warm, gold rays (especially after a truly long winter). Sure, a little sun can improve your mood, but did you know there is a side of being a sun-child that isn’t so bright?
If you’re chasing a tan, you might want to think again. In fact, there is no such thing as a “healthy tan” – a tan is sun damage. It’s your body’s way of trying to protect itself from things like skin cancers. Makes you think about tanning a little differently, huh? It’s important to know what risks you are up against when searching for that summer glow.
Now, if you absolutely have to change colour, consider some of these options:
Lobsters Aren’t Cute
So you want to look especially great? Got an outfit that requires a little tan? Don’t chase the beach-babe look by sitting outside and frying. Going sunny side up means protecting your natural beauty. The sun casts very harmful UV rays. This damaging UV increases the risk of developing skin cancer. Unfortunately, some people are more susceptible to UV damage than others. According to the Melanoma Network of Canada (www.melaomanetwork.ca), you are at increased risk:
- If you are fair with light-coloured skin, eyes or hair
- If you have a family history of skin cancer or melanoma
- If you spend long days in the sun (for work or play) or go for short, intense sun exposure on a vacation
- If you have more than 50 moles
- If you have used a tanning bed
- If you’ve had bad sunburns in the past
- If you take medications that make you sensitive to UV
SPF Got Your Back (And The Rest Of You)
There are many alternative ways to feel great about your skin, under or out of the sun.
Keeping your skin healthy means sunscreen is your new BFF – it absorbs the sun’s rays and doesn’t allow for the harmful effects of UV to develop over time. But, hello, WARNING: it is called sunscreen (not sun block) for a reason because there are still UV rays that get through. You are always at risk when in the sun; but knowing how to use the right lather of SPF really helps reduce your worry.
The sun may feel like a friend, but know your yellow pal well! Sunny has two types of damaging UV rays (UVA and UVB). Not all sunscreens protect from UVA, so look for the words “broad spectrum” on the package (which means it protects against both UVA and UVB radiation) with an SPF of 30 or higher. If you’re going to be outdoors for a while, try one even higher. The higher the SPF, the greater the percentage of UV rays you are protected against. Whatever you wear on your body, always make the SPF on your face much higher (30-60), because the skin on your face is more delicate and subject to burns. And re-apply! Most of us forget to re-apply every two to three hours (or more) when in and out of water or sweating a lot!
How to apply? Squirt a generous amount on clean, dry skin and rub in evenly at least 20 minutes before you soak up the sun to allow the product to absorb into the skin. (Don’t forget your ears, nose, neck, lips and the tops of your feet.) If you are jumping in the water, make sure that you put on a sunscreen that is advertised as “water resistant.” But no matter what the SPF, make sure you re-apply every two to three hours (more if you’re in and out of the water or sweating profusely) – no SPF stays on forever.
Get Outta Bed!
Before you go running to a tanning salon, thinking that’s a good alternative, know this: The UV rays from tanning beds can be more harmful than the mid-day sun since more skin is exposed in a tanning bed. Plus, some salons use tanning accelerators that make them even more dangerous. Yikes! According to dermatologists at Compass Dermatology in Toronto, the use of tanning beds before the age of 30 increases your risk of skin cancer to 75 percent. Seventy-five percent! So that is definitely out, unless you want to be the best-tanned corpse in the graveyard.
Sprays And Creams?
If you absolutely have to change colour, these options are the best of a bad bunch, but spray tans can also contain harsh chemical agents. When looking for a tanning cream, make sure it is as friendly as possible. Look for phrases like “paraben free” and watch out for other ingredients like sodium laureth sulfate and those that have “PEG,” “xynol,” “ceteareth” and “oleth” in their name – these have all been linked to negative health effects. It is important that the active ingredient in tanning creams, DHA (dihydroxy acetone), is significantly reduced or naturally derived. Here are a few tanning creams we found that are better than the rest (and won’t turn you into an orange!):
- Elemental Herbology’s “Sun Kiss” – This is a full-body hydrator infused with natural antioxidant extracts (pomegranate and fig), essential oils (macadamia and olive), the cooling effects of watermelon seed oil and aloe, as well lavender (which reduces the strong smell tanning creams usually have).
- True Natural’s self-tanning kit – 100 percent natural, vegan-friendly, vegetable-derived DHA combined with the sugar agent erythrulose gives you that tanned look. In an easy kit, two creams for face and body are included and specially formulated. Your sun-free tan lasts four to seven days!
- Nature’s Gate’s “Sunless Tanner” – This light cream leaves behind a light floral scent and no streaks! Antioxidant-rich green tea and raspberry extracts are combined with olive oil, aloe and hibiscus to make sure your skin gets full-on nourishment. Best part? It’s affordable (around $15).
- Chocolate Sun products – This line of tanners and bronzers is one of the leading brands of organic, sunless products. Chocolate sun tanning cream, infused with essential oils, herbs, botanicals and natural preservatives, is the best of both worlds (eco-friendly AND gentle on your skin).
Work Out Your Natural Beauty
Consider also that looking great doesn’t necessarily mean looking like a beach babe! A tan is just a short-term solution to the real desire to simply look your best. Healthy, natural colour is never harmful and always glowing. Here are some tips to enhance the goodness you’ve already got:
- Apply moisturizer to your face and body daily. Apply a moisturizer with an SPF 30 on your face each day (even in the winter, because the sun is still strong).
- Drink lots of water and consider make-up with no harmful chemicals or perfumes.
- Eat food that is good for your skin, like vegetables and fruit high in antioxidants (pomegranates, citrus, broccoli, kale), Vitamin C (black currants, strawberry, sweet potato), or omega-3s (fish oils, flax).
Enjoy the summer rays but take care of your skin – it’s the one look you can’t change.
The best and healthiest colour your skin can be is the one it is naturally! Yup, Bruno Mars was right: you’re amazing just the way you are!