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How to Protect Your Skin Whilst Tanning

A sun tan is both a remedy and curse at the same time. There’s actually such a thing as a healthy tan, achieved as long as you’re careful and understand how to protect your skin properly. The majority of us, me included, assume that by not burning we haven’t caused any damage to our skin which is wrong - a lot of damage is in fact invisible and below the surface.

What are sun rays? 

The sun produces two kinds of rays known as UVA and UVB. UVB are the ones which cause sunburn, and non-melanoma cancers but at the same time give us the vitamin D our bodies very much need. The second UVA gets deeper into our skin and that’s what gives us wrinkles and breaks the elastin in our skin - so both have negative effects.

The science simplified 

Here’s a bit of science simplified - the first signs of burning is redness, and this means your skin has got into inflammatory mode. It then gets tight since the skin has been drained of its moisture - so it peels off, which is the cells way of protecting the rest of the body from cancers.  

How to protect yourself 

Head to your local pharmacy or cosmetics store and purchase some sunscreen. However, some of our well known and loved brands can have the opposite effect because they are filled with some toxic products. So, before grabbing the nearest factor 30 off the shelf, be sure to check its ingredients for OMC. The SPF scale can be a little inaccurate and misleading - a higher factor doesn’t always mean it’s going to protect you more, and you have to ensure you apply enough in the first place. Ultimately though, it’s not just about the sunscreen, it’s about the amount of time you spend in the sun.

Tanning the right way 

A lot of us often think we can lay out in the sun all day and come away looking like a bronzed god - this is a complete myth. Our bodies only produce so much melanin (the ability to tan) per day, and this really only lasts about 2 hours. So rather than bathing under that scorching sun with a risk of heat stroke, take breaks in the shade, particularly during 12-3pm when the sun is at its strongest - you can still catch a tan under those palm trees. 


Once you’ve taken all the correct safety measures for your skin and you’ve gradually built a golden glow, you’ll want to prolong this for as long as possible. Prior to your holiday you should have exfoliated to remove all the dead skin from your winter body. Then after spending time in the sun you should moisturise using an ‘after sun’ product that contains vitamin E. Not only will this soothe the skin but it will help prevent peeling whilst rehydrating the skin.

Rakelle Maurici

With a thirst for exploration and over 10 years of writing experience, Rakelle is a keen fashion, travel and culture storyteller. Her work, from city guides to short stories, has been featured in both global print and digital media.

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