We’ve often espoused the virtues of either avoiding or protecting yourself from the sun whenever possible. Perhaps because this is a skin cancer awareness blog, you’ve occasionally thought that that’s little more than biased hyperbole. Maybe you’ve even wondered, is there really such a thing as a safe tan? If so, it’s certainly a fair question. And it has a very simple answer: “No.”
Are You Sure You’re Not Exaggerating?
Very sure. In fact, it’s not just us saying this. It’s the consensus of dermatologists, too. In fact, if you’re still thinking of tanning anyway, we happily urge you to ask yours about the risks of doing so beforehand.
Every time you burn your skin you’re injuring it. And though you usually see it heal, the effects are still permanent. Sooner or later, at the very least it’ll add up to noticeable sun skin damage, and then potentially to skin cancer. At the worst tanning can lead to Melanoma, which if not caught early can be fatal.*
We know it’s probably not something you spend a lot of time thinking about in depth, but there are easy comparisons to keep in mind. Picture what the skin of a Thanksgiving turkey looks like before it’s placed into an oven, and then what it looks like after it comes out. And sure, while you’re not baking yourself at 400 degrees for four hours, tanning means you may be regularly baking yourself at 80-100 degrees over the course of months or years. Imagine what that’s doing to your skin.
What About Tanning Beds?
Tanning beds are horrible, to be frank. Ideally, you should be wearing protective sunscreen if you’ll be outside any longer than it takes to pick up your newspaper from the front porch. Now envision what enclosing yourself inside a machine the size of a refrigerator box, then blasting yourself with UV light, is doing to your skin.
The risk of acquiring the possibly lethal Melanoma skyrockets in those who use tanning beds; the vast majority of whom are young women who think tans improve their appearance. They’re wrong; people look best in the skin tone they come with naturally. And even if they disagree, is the heighted risk of an awful disease worth the tradeoff of looking bronzed for a couple of weeks? The answer to that is obvious.
So What is the Answer?
Just as with the query in the first paragraph, the answer to this question is also simple. Don’t tan, and enjoy the skin you’re in. Pale is beautiful. Darker skin tones are beautiful. All skin colors are beautiful, and whichever one you have was meant specifically for you. There’s no reason to artificially and temporarily hurt your skin when it looks great on you already. Especially considering the consequences of doing so.
If you’re ever diagnosed with Melanoma, the very last thing you’re going to care about is tanning. But it will certainly be the very first thing you regret. Please, please don’t allow yourself to learn that lesson the hard way.
So either kick the tanning habit, or never pick it up. Make sure to wear and continually re-apply sunscreen whenever you’re outside, and keep your skin looking fantastic.
*Additional source article: Americanskin.org
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