Does a “Safe Tan” Exist?

Does a “Safe Tan” Exist?

Everyone looks forward to summer, when the weather is warm and skin has that bronzed glow. Many will go to great lengths to get that glow by heading to tanning salons and laying out in the sun with little to no sun protection. Being tan may look nice, but is it worth it? It is hard to imagine your summer glow as harmful when it symbolizes youth and attractiveness. The harsh reality is there is no such thing as a healthy tan, and the damage you do to your skin will lead to wrinkles and even more dangerous consequences.


To put the long answer shortly, no, there is no such thing as a safe tan. The sun produces harmful ultraviolet rays that cause damage to your skin. These rays cause lasting damage that can lead to skin cancer later in life. Sun exposure causes structural damage to your skin cells, and this structural damage causes wrinkles and sagging skin. Even minimal exposure to the sun can cause irreversible damage.


A common myth about tanning is the idea of a base tan. People believe that if they slowly expose themselves to the sun and get a base tan, that tanning will not damage their skin. In reality, the base tan myth is just that, a myth.


“One of the most common myths I come across in patients is that a base tan will protect against burning and subsequent damage. Or even worse, that the color you get with a self-tanner will confer any protection,” says Dr. Francesca Fusco, assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine in New York City, “Damage to your skin from the sun — and tanning beds — can happen in just minutes from exposure to ultraviolet rays…The radiation can result in DNA damage that ultimately leads to skin cancer. No tan will limit sun damage.”


Being tan may be a sign of youth, but wrinkles and a loss in skin elasticity from sun exposure will only result in premature aging. A tan may look beautiful now, but in a couple months it will fade. Is the lasting skin damage worth it?


What are your thoughts on tanning? Let me know in the comments below or find me on Twitter @whatsthesich 

Carolyn Ambrosich

Carolyn Ambrosich attends Fordham University in New York City, where she is majoring in psychology and is a member of the rugby team. She was born in Texas, but raised in Colorado and Maryland. Carolyn suffers from wanderlust and is always looking for adventure. She loves cats, meeting new people, music, and relaxing with friends. Follow her on Twitter @whatsthesich

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