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Sunless tanning is becoming more common in Canada due to only having a few months a year that we can tan outside. Most of these sunless tanning options have actually proven to be quite beneficial when compared to sun bathing.
For example, spray tanning allows you to change the tone of your skin to a beautiful golden color without damaging the skin with harmful UV rays. As long as the spray is applied evenly and none of it is inhaled, the results are very similar to sunbathing but without any of the negative side effects.
Sunless tanning pills which are becoming quite popular, on the other hand, are not a good alternative to sunbathing. Unfortunately there is no such thing as a “magic pill” that will make your skin tanned, despite what some of their claims may be. If you were thinking of using tanning pills make sure you read this article so that you are aware of the risks associated with them.
How do tanning pills work?
The claim behind how tanning pills work is that they are full of color additives, which when ingested in these high doses, will change the tint of your skin. Most often the color additive used in tanning pills is canthaxanthin, which is common in food products but in much smaller concentrations.
When you ingest canthaxanthin in the high concentration found in tanning pills, the coloring substance goes into several parts of your body including the skin where the color can become visible. Usually the color that appears on your skin is an orange or brownish color, much different from the tone you would get when sunbathing or spray tanning which results from a natural increase of melanin in the skin.
Danger associated with ingesting tanning pills
When you take tanning pills, the high concentration of canthaxanthin will get deposited into several parts of your body, not just in your skin. One area that this color additive has been known to appear is in the eyes in the form of yellow crystals. This is very dangerous and can cause impaired vision.
Another part of the body where canthaxanthin has been found when ingested in such high doses is in the liver. This can cause liver damage in people who ingest tanning pills, which unfortunately can not be reversed.
Stay away from tanning pills
If you are looking for a perfect tan but don’t have the sunlight necessary to accomplish this, do not resort to taking tanning pills. There are other methods available such as sunless tanning lotions, spray tanning and UV tanning beds that are much safer than ingesting high doses of a color additive.
Now that the summer is coming to an end and we brace ourselves for the long winter ahead, it would be a shame to lose the golden tan that took all summer to achieve. Luckily there are many options for keeping your skin golden brown in the absence of the sun.
A lot of people are skeptical when it comes to sunless tanning because lets face it, the thought of tanning without the sun just sounds like an oxymoron. Rest assured though that these products and methods do work, and in fact can be safer for you than spending long hours in the sun damaging your skin with harmful UV rays.
In this article we explore some of the most popular options that people choose to keep up their beautiful golden skin tone during the long winter months.
Probably the most popular sunless tanning method available, spray tanning creates a similar skin tone to actual tanning, without the necessity of baking in the sun. By carefully spraying a mist on the skin which contains and ingredient called Dihydroxyacetone (DHA), chemical reactions occur on the surface of the skin causing it to turn a golden brown hue, similar to what you would achieve with sun tanning.
This form of tanning is completely safe (as long as you don’t inhale the spray) and the results can last up to 7 days. There are several different ways you can get a spray tan completed on your skin including:
- stepping in an automated spray tanning booth which evenly sprays the mist on your body
- getting it applied to your skin by a professional with a device similar to a paint gun
- applying it yourself with a store bought aerosol version
For best results, visit a tanning salon and have it applied to your skin by a professional or in one of Midnight Suns state of the art spray tanning booths.
Another very popular method of tanning your skin without the need for natural sunlight is by using a tanning bed. Although this does not use natural sunlight, the lights used in tanning beds still emit UV radiation to tan your skin, similar to the sun.
As a result of using UV radiation to change the color of your skin in a tanning bed, the detrimental effects are very similar to what you would get from sun bathing. A big difference, however, is that you have much more control over how much UV radiation penetrates your skin and you can use a tanning bed year round, day and night.
Sunless Tanning Lotions
Similar to spray tanning, sunless tanning lotions have DHA in them, causing the tone of your skin to darken when it comes in contact with the lotion. These lotions are another great alternative to sunbathing, and also a cost effective alternative to spray tanning.
The major downside of using sunless tanning lotions is that you never know if you applied it evenly to your skin until the results show up, which may be too late. This can result in an unnatural looking and uneven tan, something that is rare with spray tanning applied by a professional.
When going on vacation, or even just going outdoors for that matter, most people only worry about the direct impact the sun can have on hot summer days. It is rare that someone would worry, for example, in the winter or if there are clouds in the sky. The reality is, however, that the suns rays can be more detrimental to your skin when combined with certain factors.
Sometimes lathering on sunscreen just isn’t enough to fully protect yourself from the suns harmful UV rays when combined with these factors. The first step in getting the optimal protection is to understand how these things can magnify the impact of the suns rays. Once you understand this you can take the necessary measures to further protect yourself when in these specific environments.
In this article, we outline some factors that can amplify the suns UV rays. Some of these are obvious but others not so much. We also provide tips on how to optimally protect yourself in these situation.
Sand at the beach
Going to the beach to soak up the sun is nothing new in Western culture. Everyone knows that if you’re going to be sitting in the sun all day you should protect yourself from getting sun burned, but at the same time, many people go to the beach hoping to get a nice golden tan and misjudge the power of the sun.
When at the beach, beware that the suns rays will have a stronger effect than normal on your skin due to the fact that sand reflects about 20% of the suns UV rays. So you aren’t just getting hit by direct UV rays, you are also getting an additional 20% of exposure from the surrounding sands reflection. This means that even if you are sitting in the shade at the beach, you will still be getting hit by UV rays from the reflection and should protect yourself accordingly.
Reflection from water
Similar to sand at the beach, water also reflects the suns harmful UV rays. According to the World Health Organization, water only reflects about 10% of the suns UV rays. Although it doesn’t reflect as much as sand, this is still a significant amount of additional UV radiation that your body will be exposed to when you are in or near water.
When going inside the water, you will not only be hit by direct UV rays, but also by rays reflecting from the surface of the water. On top of this, any sunscreen that you put on will be reduced even if it claims to be waterproof so make sure to reapply as soon as you exit the water and dry off.
Thinning of the ozone layer
The ozone layer is like a massive invisible bubble protecting our planet from harmful external forces like powerful UV rays. It absorbs 100% of UVC rays, the most dangerous of the UV spectrum, and reflects a large amount of UVA and UVB rays as well. Unfortunately, due to pollution that we have caused on this planet, there are some areas of the world which are losing a significant portion of the ozone protection.
The most popular example of this is in Australia, where the ozone layer has depleted approximately 9% since 1960. To add to this, the ozone above the Antarctic is significantly thinned during spring time causing what is known as the ozone hole, which passes over parts of Australia. This significant depletion of ozone allows more UV radiation to hit the earth and it’s inhabitants, making Australia the skin cancer capital of the world.
Reflection from snow
One of the last places you would expect to get sun burned is on a cold winter day. Well, if you plan on spending lots of time outdoors playing in the snow you better take a second look. Snow is known to reflect up to 80% of the suns UV rays, giving you almost double the exposure you would normally face.
Luckily, with the bitter cold of winter, it is unlikely that you will be walking around with much exposed skin that can get burnt. The most common places people get burned is on their face which is often now covered when playing in the snow. Just be sure to cover up as much of your skin as possible and put sunscreen on any exposed skin to minimize the damage that can come from these extra UV rays.
Another place that people don’t expect to get sunburned, more so than in the snow, is on a cloudy day. Most people think that the clouds will either reflect or absorb the suns UV rays making it very unlikely to catch a tan or a sun burn, and this couldn’t be further from the truth.
According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, clouds only reflect approximately 20% of the suns UV rays, allowing the other 80% to pass through and unsuspectingly damage your skin. Don’t be fooled on an over cast day, be sure to protect yourself in the same way that you would on a sunny day if you will be spending a lot of time outdoors.
Although it may feel colder at higher altitudes, making you think that the suns rays aren’t hitting you with the same intensity that they would if you were hanging out at the beach, they are actually much stronger. According to WHO, UV levels actually increase with altitude, at an approximate rate of 10% for every 1000 meters in altitude.
The reason for this is that the higher you go, the less atmosphere there is to absorb UV radiation. So being high up on a mountain top is much more detrimental to your skin than hanging out at sea level by a beach if you don’t take the necessary precautions.
Thanks to tanning salons, we can maintain a beautiful tan all year round by using one of their UV tanning beds or a self tanning method such as spray tanning. Even in the summer, instead of sitting in the sun baking for several hours to achieve that perfect golden tan, some people opt for the much quicker and safer option of spray tanning.
For those that don’t know what spray tanning is, it is a form of self tanning that uses an aerosol type of spray with DHA as it’s active ingredient. DHA reacts with amino acids on the surface of your skin causing it to change into a darker pigment.
So is this stuff actually safe for you? In this article we explore some of the pros and cons of spray tanning.
Spray Tanning Pros
When comparing spray tanning to sun bathing or other self tanning products, spray tanning has several benefits including.
With spray tanning, you don’t have to sit in the sun for hours, allowing the suns UV rays to penetrate your skin and cause it to darken. You also don’t have to wait a few days until your skin fully changes into the golden pigment we all strive for.
Once your spray tan session is complete, the amino acids on your skin will react almost instantly, changing the pigmentation of your skin.
Safer than sun bathing
Sun bathing requires actually damaging your skin by causing it to darken as a protective bodily response from the powerful UV rays. UV rays are harmful to our skin, especially in high doses, and can cause several problems like premature aging of skin, sun burns and skin cancer.
Spray tanning, on the other hand, doesn’t require you to bathe in the sun at all. As long as you make sure to cover your self in the sun, use sun block or sit in the shade during the peak UV hours of the day, you can maintain a beautiful tan without any of the risks of sun bathing
easier to use than self tanning lotions
Self tanning lotions is another safe alternative to sun bathing, but it is a little trickier than spray tanning. With these lotions it can be difficult to spread them evenly on your own body and quite messy as well.
Spray tanning is usually administered by a professional or an automated booth that will give you an even application all over your body, without using any sticky products that leave your skin feeling greasy.
Spray Tanning Cons
As you can see, there are many positives to spray tanning compared to other types of tanning. Like almost anything else in life, there are some negatives associated with spray tanning as well. In this case though, the pros definitely outweigh the cons, as long as you use it in moderation of course.
inhaling dha is a health concern
While getting a spray tan applied to your body, it is almost impossible to avoid inhaling a small amount of the spray. Even if you try holding your breath, it is unlikely you will be able to do so during the entire process.
The danger with this comes from some new studies that suggest inhaling DHA may cause cancer. These studies have not been conducted on humans but it is something you should consider when going for a spray tan, only choosing salons that use the most modern technology, and doing it less moderately.
spray tanning is expensive
It should go without saying that spray tanning is more expensive than sun bathing, but it is also about 3 times more expensive than other self tanning creams as well. So it’s really up to you to decide if the higher price is worth the superior results that spray tanning provides.