Finding the right way to tan


Sun bathers at the beach on a sunny day.

By: Theodore Coursen, Spring Reporter

With summer approaching, you may be thinking about obtaining the appealing bronze skin-tone that comes from a tan. There are multiple ways to achieve this look, including spray-tans, tanning beds, or simply laying in the sun. But, which way will produce the best tan, and which is best for your health?

When it comes to skin tanning, you may not want to overdo it. If your skin is naturally pale, do not expect to darken easily. There are six different skin types, each of which has a varying reaction to sun exposure. It is important to find which skin type you have and that you can tan accordingly. However, even if you have a darker skin tone, you should still wear sunscreen. Everyone’s skin is susceptible to skin cancer, even if your skin does not burn. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends that you use SPF 15 or higher on a daily basis to avoid harmful UV rays. However, there are advantages to sun-tanning, it is a good source of vitamin D, and is a natural way to darken your skin.

Spray tanning has been around since it’s invention in Germany in the 1920’s. Spray tanning has very little risks on your health, and there is no limit to how light or how dark you can make your tan. However they stain your clothes, and they start to fade after a few days. They also can leave a bad smell afterwards, and in order to maintain your tan you need to reapply the spray often.

Your final choice is to go to a tanning bed. Tanning bed’s are the easiest, and usually most effective, form of tanning, they are guaranteed to darken skin quickly. However, they are proven to cause melanoma, a deadly skin cancer. Risk factors are high when it comes to tanning beds, and 27 states have put restrictions on allowing minors to use them without parent’s consent. If you do choose to use these tanning beds, remember that excessive use can severely damage skin causing it to wrinkle or become leather-like.

Keep in mind that the Skin Cancer Foundation reports that “over the past three decades, more people have had skin cancer than all other cancers combined” and “about 90 percent of nonmelanoma skin cancers are associated with exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun.” Tanning beds and baking in the natural sunlight may not be the best options when you consider that a person dies of melanoma every 57 minutes according to the Skin Cancer Foundation.

So which form of tanning is right for you? It really is a matter of personal preference. Although, if you are someone who has pale skin, and do not tan easily, spray tans are probably your best bet. However, if you already have naturally darker skin, sun tanning is a good way to crispen up a bit. Whatever you decide, consider the risks present, and do not worry if you are unable to achieve the specific color you want, everyone’s skin tone is unique and that is what makes it so beautiful.

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