Does Sun Tanning Accelerate Aging of the Skin?
Want to avoid premature aging of the skin? Find a way to get your sun-kissed glow without involving the sun.
By now, you’ve likely heard all the warnings about excessive exposure to UV rays. You know too much time in the sun can cause sunburns, wrinkles, and a heightened risk of skin cancer.
But alongside these warnings, there are countless myths claiming that a suntan is actually healthy.
You may have heard that you need a tan to avoid a sunburn. Another common myth is that tanning is the best way to get vitamin D, or that you’re safe as long as you don’t burn.
None of these things are true.
Here’s the reality about tanning:
A Suntan is Actually Proof of Skin Damage
What you might consider a “healthy tan” is actually evidence that your skin is under attack.
You see, UV rays from the sun can damage. When your skin cells detect this threat, they produce melanin as a defense against UV rays. This reaction is what we call a suntan.
Given this information, it may seem like this confirms that tanning should protect you. If you’re going to be in the sun anyway, why not build up that melanin defense?
The fact is, a suntan cannot protect you from aging of the skin. With repeated sun exposure, your skin doesn’t just become darker; it becomes thicker, too. Over time, you develop that leathery, uneven texture we associate with photoaging.
Photoaging Happens Over the Long Term
Sun-related aging of the skin does not occur over the course of one summer. This is what makes tanning such a tempting idea. When we are young, we can get that sun-kissed look and still enjoy soft, beautiful skin.
Nevertheless, the “healthy glow” of tanned skin is a short-lived victory. The UV rays that gave you that bronzed look also cause wrinkles, age spots, and thick, leathery skin. You may love the look of your suntanned skin this summer, but in a few years, you’ll see the damage.
UVA rays are to blame for premature aging of the skin. Shorter UVB rays are the ones we’re warned against most often, as they cause burning and skin cancer. However, UVA rays do their share of damage, too.
These longer wavelengths penetrate to the deeper layers of your skin, damaging collagen fibers. This sets off a chain reaction.
Your cells try to fix the damaged collagen by producing an abnormal amount of elastin, which in turn leads to the production of an enzyme that rebuilds your collagen incorrectly.
Tanning Beds Also Cause Aging of the Skin
One major tanning myth suggests that you can avoid aging of the skin by using a tanning bed.
This claim comes from the fact that most tanning beds use UVA rays but not UVB rays. Because UVB rays are directly responsible for sunburns and skin cancer, tanning beds are marketed as a safe alternative to the sun.
They are not safe. For one thing, tanning beds do use UVA, which we know causes aging of the skin. For another, even UVA rays can contribute to an increased risk of skin cancer.
Can You Reverse Aging of the Skin
If you’re looking back on all those years you spent basking in the sun and starting to feel panicked, there is good news. While you can’t turn back the clock, you can restore some of that youthful glow.
Delfina Skin is a doctor-developed oil that emphasizes skin health.
There are also several steps you can take to slow further aging of the skin.
Protect your skin from the sun by wearing a reliable sunscreen with an SPF 30 or higher. Cover your skin and wear a wide-brimmed hat when you go out on sunny days. And avoid the sun during peak hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
How to Achieve a Healthy Glow Without Tanning
If you’re still in love with that sun-kissed look, don’t lose heart. There are plenty of ways to love the skin you’re in without causing damage and premature aging of the skin.
One option is to use a sunless tanner. You can get a beautiful, bronzed look at sunless tanning salons or by purchasing spray tan products to use at home. This method has improved considerably over the years. There is no need to fear the orange tint from quality products.
Finally, as a skin care company, we can’t help but mention that all complexions glow as long as your skin is healthy. If you want a fresh and beautiful look, think about nourishing your skin rather than forcing a lovely-looking melanin defense.