How to Tan Naturally and Safely: Top Tips
As the weather gets warmer and we spend more time outside, it is important to ensure your skin is protected to get a summer glow without sunburn.
The sun’s rays are needed to stimulate the body to produce vitamin D, essential for immune function and bone health. Suntans occur when the skin is exposed to the UVA and UVB rays from the sun. In response, the skin cells distribute melanocytes, darker pigment cells, to the cells on the surface in an attempt to protect the skin from sun damage. As this pigment increases, the skin darkens. So how can we prevent damaging our skin whilst maintaining a golden tan?
1. Use a sun protector with suitable protection for your skin
Sun protection was first invented by Franz Greiter in 1938, who then went on to create the popular sun cream brand Piz Buin. Sun protection reduces the risk of developing skin cancers and skin precancers, as well as helping to prevent premature ageing.
Sunscreen includes active ingredients which prevent UV radiation from reaching your skin. Chemical sunscreen ingredients such as avobenzone and octisalate absorb the UV rays before they can penetrate the skin. Whereas physical sunscreen ingredients such as titanium dioxide and zinc oxide block the sun’s rays before they can penetrate the skin. These are often called ‘natural’ sunscreens.
Whichever type of sunscreen you decide to use, ensure it has adequate SPF (sun protection factor) to protect your skin. Although darker skin tones have a higher natural SPF of about 13.4 compared to those with fairer skin (about SPF 3.4) and are more protected from sun damage, this does not mean people with darker skin shouldn’t use sunscreen. The onset of sun damage may be slower than those with fairer skin tones, but damage still does occur.
Those with darker skin tones who never burn are likely to be safe with an SPF of between 15 and 30. Whereas those with pale skins should use a minimum factor of 30. No sunscreen protects us 100% from the sun but an SPF 30 sunscreen blocks about 97% of the sun’s rays. Also, ensure your sunscreen has a UVA protection of at least 4-stars. JASON Mineral Natural Sunscreen SPF30 offers broad-spectrum protection from UVA and UVB rays and hypoallergenic, making it ideal for sensitive skin and children.
Note for parents: Babies under 6 months old should not have sunscreen applied, their sensitive skin should be protected from the sun by keeping them in the shade.
2. Apply enough sunscreen and reapply frequently
Sunscreen should be applied 30 minutes before exposing yourself to the sun and reapplied every 2 hours. If you have been in the water, reapply as soon as you have dried off. If you are just needing to protect your face, neck and arms then about two teaspoons of sun cream should suffice. If you are exposing your whole body to the sun, then two tablespoons of sun cream are recommended. If you apply sunscreen too sparsely then its protective effects reduce.
3. Spend time out of the sun when it is at its strongest
The sun’s rays are at their strongest between 11 am and 3 pm. It is best to avoid sitting out in the sun at this time to prevent damage to the skin. There is also a maximum time in which your skin can produce melanin (the pigment which makes our skin look tanned). After 2-3 hours, and often much for those with pale skins, this threshold has been reached where you can’t tan anymore, and your skin is exposed to the harmful UV rays.
4. Consider supplements
Beta-carotene is a red-orange pigment found in plants and fruits, giving them their colour. Beta-carotene supplements may help you deepen your natural tan and may prevent sunburn but taking too much beta-carotene comes with a warning. Consuming a high amount over a long period can cause liver and vision problems. Therefore, take a small dose in a multivitamin designed to improve skin health such as Together WholeVit Beautiful Hair, Skin & Nail Complex which is gentle on the stomach and easily absorbed.
5. Get the glow without the sun
Those with very pale skin tones who don’t tan well and burn easily may want to consider a sunless tanner to achieve a summer glow. Eco by Sonya is a natural, eco-friendly sunless tanning brand which nourishes the skin whilst it tans.
Enjoying the sun safely can be beneficial for both our physical and mental health. Whether you want to deepen your tan or prefer maintaining a paler skin tone, remember to stay safe in the sun by wearing sunscreen, reapplying it frequently and seeking out the shade when necessary.