Tan safely this summer

Tan safely this summer

Get that healthy bronze glow without hurting your skin

South Africa’s sunny skies mean beaches, bikinis and bronzed bodies but, on a more sombre note, all that sunshine means we are a nation at major risk of skin cancer.

Yes, sun is good for you as your body uses its UV rays to manufacture Vitamin D, which is essential for bone and musculoskeletal health. However, too much sun can be deadly, and a bad dose of sunburn at an early age can set your skin up to develop skin cancer later.

Even darker African skin can burn so it’s important to know how to take care of your body’s natural shield. People with dark skin and those who tan easily, however, are less likely to get skin cancer than fair-skinned people.

Don’t be tempted by solariums and sunbeds because they can emit up to six times as much damaging UV as the midday summer sun (in some countries, Australia for example, commercial solariums are now illegal).
Fortunately, there are other ways to get that sun-kissed glow: try a spray-tan salon or go the DIY self-tan route.

Self-tan secret

The key to a good home self-tan is preparation so exfoliate the skin you want to colour, using smooth circular motions to slough off the dead skin cells and make it more receptive the tanning substance.
When you buy your self-tan product, look for the active ingredient dihydoxyacetone, which is a colourless kind of sugar molecule which goes brown when it comes into contact with the skin. DHA seems to carry fewer health risks and is approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for sunless tanning. It doesn’t penetrate deeper than the very top layer of skin, where the cells are already dead.

  • Apply AFTER you shower or bath, when your skin pH levels are more receptive.
  • Only do one layer at a time: better paler than bright orange!
  • Some swear by blow-drying their self-tan before getting dressed. However, it will dry out your skin.
  • Wear dark clothing for the first few hours after applying, this gives the tanner a chance to “soak in” without leaving grubby marks. (Tip: don’t apply last thing at night and then sleep on white sheets!)
  • Moisturising your skin will extend your tan’s life.

Spray it don’t say it

In theory, we all should be wearing sun protection factor (SPF) 30+ sunscreen every day, and the Cancer Association also advises the following:

  • Slip on a long-sleeve top
  • Slather on sunscreen
  • Slap on a hat
  • Slip on sunglasses
  • Seek out shade

Reapply your sunscreen every two hours, and be sure to use plenty: you want about a teaspoon each for your back, chest, head and neck, and each arm and leg, which will add up to about 3 tablespoons (or 45ml) for your entire body.

Now say hello to Summer, and go for golden-bronze!

Date Published: 
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