Is Tanning Bad for You?

The beaches are populated with beautiful tanned bodies. They lay there all day soaking up the sun in order to get that dark bronzed look. Just in case direct exposure for hours is not enough, they apply lotions to soak up even more of those rays for a faster tan. Tanning has been popular since way back in the 1920’s when Coco Chanel declared it the ‘in’ thing. But is it healthy? Can you take in too much sun? What are some of the side effects of too much tanning?

Why Tan?

Spending time outdoors and getting some sun has always been looked at as healthy. It’s the whole ‘fresh air and spending time in nature’ thing. Tanning is also fashionable. Celebrities show up at red carpet events looking dark and attractive. Many people view a tan as appealing and they think it makes them look better. It is all about self image and some people, no matter what the health warnings say, will do anything to maintain a golden skin tone.

Is Tanning Unhealthy?


The sun give off radiation in the form of UV rays which are what causes our skin to darken and tan. This occurs because the UV rays damage the DNA of our skin’s epidermal cells. This triggers enzymes that act to repair the damage caused by the sun.  However, sometimes these enzymes do not successfully repair the DNA and all of this sun damage can lead to minute genetic defects and mutations that increase the risk of skin cancer.

Also, prolonged exposure to the sun without any skin care protection such as sunscreen, a hat, or shade, can lead to what doctors call sun poisoning. The human body cannot take too much radiation which is exactly what the sun’s rays are. If you spend all day out in direct sunlight without any sort of protection, then your body soaks up too much radiation which can make you extremely sick. Cases such as these are not common but they do happen.

What Are Some Health Issues About Tanning?

The major concern about tanning is that it canlead to cancer. Melanoma is the number one form of deadly skin cancer which is caused by over-exposure to the sun. Every year, there are more than one million new cases of skin cancer in the United States alone. While some of these cases may not be life threatening, they can still lead to disfigurement and prolonged health problems.

Tanning also ages the skin prematurely. Repeated unprotected exposure to the sun can cause wrinkles, sagging skin, and spots that may look similar to freckles but are actually damaged skin. If you continuously tan, even with protection, you will end up looking a lot older than you really are.

Is Using A Tanning Bed Bad For You?

At one time people thought that tanning beds were safer than tanning under natural sunlight because tanning beds only used UVA rays and only in safe doses. Now, after several studies that have reached the same conclusion, we know that tanning beds are more dangerous that the sun. Research has proven that UVA rays are actually a carcinogen and that they penetrate deeper than other UV rays. So the damage that they can cause can go past the skin and into your tissue underneath. Also, the usage of tanning beds can be abused. People have been known to stay in them far longer than the allotted time and the UVA rays exceed the safe limits.

Alternatives To Natural Tanning

Now, after all of this information, there will still be some of you out there who say “I don’t care. I want that bronzed look”. Some people just like the way their skin looks when it is darker than their natural tone. Well, lucky for you there are skin care products out there than can give you the look of a tan without exposing yourself to anything harmful. There are self-tanning lotions and creams that work by temporarily tinting the color of your skin. You can apply them yourself or get someone to help you reach areas that might be difficult to reach on your own. You have to be careful with some of these because they can cause streaking or lines or even give you an orange look. There are also spray tans which are very popular right now. These are preferred over lotions because they can be applied more evenly and you don’t get it all over your hands. Whichever type you use, it will wear off after awhile so you will need to reapply it before you go out somewhere like a party or a date.