Here comes the sun, doo doo doo doo
Here comes the sun, and I say
It's all right…
My little boy sings in the back seat and my heart melts as we drive to school. After all, its impossible not to smile while hearing a child sing The Beatles.
Little darling, it's been a long cold lonely winter
Little darling, it feels like years since its been here
Winter is finally over and today it feels like we have completely skipped spring and nosedived into Summer. The Summer sun is waiting for all of us, are you ready to talk tanning? According to the American Academy of Dermatology, a single blistering sunburn can nearly double one’s lifetime risk of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. So, it’s ironic that one of the reasons people tan is to lookhealthier.
What is the base tan myth?
Have you heard of the idea of a base tan? It may seem reasonable enough: before you head off to the beach for vacation, getting a tan ahead of time might help you avoid burning, and there’s the added benefit of not looking pale when you first arrive. Like my Auntie Carol says, “brown fat looks better thanwhite fat.”
So lets talk about it…. does a base tan prevent burning? Experts estimate that going out in the sun with a base tan is equivalent to wearing a sunscreen with a SPF of 3 to 4. This means the skin can be exposed to up to four times more sun before burning than without the base tan. For example, if you would ordinarily burn after 20 minutes in the sun, a base tan might mean you can be in the sun for up to 80 minutes before burning.
While it’s better than nothing, it’s a modest benefit; most recommended sunscreens have SPFs of at least 15 to 30. Since wearing sunscreen is much more effective than relying on a base tan to protect you from burning, the real question is whether having a tan on day one of your vacation is worth the time and expense at the tanning salon before you leave. Not to mention all the added risks…. Yikes!
But wait…. I won’t get my Vitamin D if I don’t lay out!
There’s been controversy for years regarding safe levels of sun exposure. Some suggest that we should not limit sun exposure too much, because the sun helps increase stores of vitamin D by converting inactive forms of the vitamin in the skin to the active form. This reaction takes far less time than tanning. And vitamin D can be good for your bones, your immune system, and perhaps other parts of the body. Meanwhile, warnings about the dangers of tanning and sun exposure argue that even brief exposure to intense sun can damage skin and increase cancer risk. There are other ways to get vitamin D, such as dairy products and supplements. Clinically speaking, it doesn’t make sense to justify sun worship by invoking the health benefits of vitamin D.
So what’s a tan-lover to do?
If your goal is to get a good suntan (or to look like you have one the day you arrive at the beach), think about using “sunless” tanning lotions, gels, or sprays that temporarily stain the skin. You will STILL NEED your sunscreen…. These products do not protect against sun burn and offer no skin protection. Lets think about this. Do we need to be tan to be beautiful? Today’s “healthy” glow is tomorrow’s wrinkled, weathered, leather hide — or worse, skin cancer. The most beautiful skin is healthy skin. So cheers… to warm sunny days, big umbrellas, and SPF 50. :)