Tanning has become immensely popular in the past few decades. However, many lighter-skinned people are prone to sunburn, which is painful, unsightly, and most importantly, increases the risk for deadly melanoma in an already high-risk skin type. When doing anything to the body for cosmetic reasons, it's always important to remember that health is the most important thing to preserve; therefore, tanning without burning should be an utmost priority. The following are a few tips to prevent sunburn while getting a tan.
- Avoid exposing yourself to the sun during the brightest hours of the day. In most areas, this is from 11 AM to 3 PM. The direct sunlight of midday can be too harsh, burning skin as well as tanning it. The less damaging sunlight from before 11 AM and after 3 PM can help you get a more gradual, healthier tan with a smaller risk of burning.
- Wear sunscreen. This may seem counter-productive to getting a tan, since sunscreen blocks the radiation that causes the skin to tan, but it is a wise choice to avoid burning. Sunscreens at the lower end of the SPF scale (for example, SPF 30 or below) will allow the skin to tan more gradually. Skin produces melanin, the pigment responsible for tanning, to protect against the sun's rays; skin that is already well-tanned will be less likely to burn. Therefore, giving the skin partial protection while letting it gradually tan will help it build up its own shield to sunburn.
- If sunburn does occur, treat it to reduce inflammation, peeling, and to prevent infection. Fresh aloe vera gel, squeezed directly from the plant, has been used for thousands of years and has been proven to have antibacterial properties. It is also cooling and soothing. Alternatively, apply commercially-bottled aloe vera gel to sunburned areas. This, along with a moisturizer, can reduce peeling and shorten the time the sunburn stings, although it won't reduce the risk of skin cancer.
- Try sunless tanning lotions or sprays. Sunless tanning causes the skin to turn darker without radiation, eliminating the chance of sunburn. Another benefit is that their application can take less time than is needed to spend hours lying out in the sun for a similar tan. This is also a very healthy choice, as you are avoiding cancer-causing rays.
When tanning, avoiding sunburn should be an important priority; in addition to being painful and unsightly, it is dangerous.