Your guide to safe tanning


Summer time is almost here and many of us would like to have that bronzed, beach look before putting any flesh on show. The truth is that there is no such thing as a safe tan. According to cancer specialists tanning in any form presents an increased risk of skin cancer. So, if you are still keen to have that tan here is some advice on keeping the risks to a minimum.

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The major danger with sun tanning is exposure to ultraviolet light. Long periods spent in ultraviolet radiation, from no matter what source, ages the skin. There is also the potential of further damage from something called solar radiation that could lead to cancer of the skin.

Exposure to ultraviolet causes rashes and sunburn. There is the slightly less known risk of fungal skin infections and contact dermatitis. This applies whether you are tanning in natural sunlight or on a tanning bed, so utmost care is required.

Be very careful whilst tanning and remind yourself constantly of the degree of risk you are taking. As the saying goes - forewarned is forearmed.

Most people, typically women, start their tanning routine as part of a beauty regime, often at a young age. So, if you must tan, then there are precautions you can take to protect your skin.

The safest way to tan is to do it slowly and gradually over as long a period of time as possible. Always use sunscreen when out in the sun and the protective goggles provided in tanning salons. These are two simple rules you should stick to rigidly.

It is recommended that people with certain skin conditions should use sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15. If you do have any pre-existing skin conditions consult with your doctor first.

Sunscreen should be applied all over any skin at least a half hour before tanning begins, whether in direct sunlight or in the salon. And if you engage in any outdoor activities for extended periods of time, sunscreen should be applied about every two hours.

If you use sun beds then it is recommended that you stick to no more than 20 sessions a year. Keep a diary of your sessions so you know where you are.

Monitor yourself by checking and looking for any abnormal skin reactions that occur during your tanning sessions. As soon as you notice anything or even suspect a problem stop the exposure straight away and consult a doctor or dermatologist. Moles are especially important and should be checked regularly by your doctor.

If you want to avoid the risks altogether then why not try a fake or spray tan. There are lots of good products and you don't need to end up looking a bright shade of tangerine either. Ask your local salon for details about all over spray tans.