Is it possible to protect your skin and get your glow on?
For us Brits, being told not to sunbathe is up there with limiting ourselves to one sangria on the first night of our holiday – it’s just not going to happen. And who can blame us?
After months and months of grey skies, we jump at the chance to top up depleted vitamin D levels and bask on the beach or local park. We know it’s not the best thing for us (age spots anyone?), but we’re guaranteed to throw caution to the wind and strip down anyway.
But on the flip side, there is a real danger from too much sun exposure – it’s the leading cause of preventable skin cancer. So, while there is not yet a known “officially safe” way of tanning, the best way to go about getting your glow is to give your skin everything it needs to help it protect itself while you catch some rays.
Find out what sunbathing is, the risks of sunbathing, the science behind sun tanning and nine top tips for doing it safely, in our guide below.
As well as knowing what sunbathing is, it is important to understand some of the dangers of the sun and the impact it can have on your health. So, is sunbathing bad for you?
If you spend too long in the sun, without the right protection you could experience these side effects:
Ever wondered what the science behind a sun tan is? And why our skin changes colour? We’ve got the answer.
A sun tan is essentially your body protecting itself from the sun’s UV rays by boosting your melanin levels. This pigment then oxidizes which is what darkens your skin tone. Also, if you’re consistently hitting the sun lounger, these cells will move closer to the surface of your skin, produce more melanin and make your skin darker.5
Now you know all about sunbathing, we’ll run you through nine handy tips for tanning safely. From choosing the right kind of SPF to tanning in the shade, find more information below.
Check out the label – you need a broad-spectrum sunscreen when sunbathing. This means it protects against both ultraviolet A and B (UVA and UVB) rays.
Looking into them in more detail, UVB rays are the type that cause sunburn and potentially lead to skin cancers, including malignant melanoma.
UVA rays penetrate deeper into your skin, and can cause premature signs of ageing such as wrinkles and sun spots.6
And know your SPF. When choosing the right kind of sun cream, here’s what you have to consider.7
|Hours spent in sun||Very fair||Fair||Light||Medium||Dark|
|1||SPF 30||SPF 15||SPF 15||SPF 8-14||SPF 8-14|
|2||SPF 30||SPF 30||SPF 30||SPF 15||SPF 8-14|
|3||SPF 50||SPF 50||SPF 30||SPF 15||SPF 15|
|4||SPF 50-100||SPF 50||SPF 30||SPF 30||SPF 15|
|5||SPF 50-100||SPF 50-100||SPF 50-100||SPF 50||SPF 30|
SPF 15 filters out around 93 per cent of UVB rays; SPF 30 keeps out 97 per cent and SPF 50 keeps out 98.
They may seem like small differences, but those extra percentages can have a significant effect on premature ageing and skin cancer risk8.
In order to achieve maximum protection from your sunscreen, make sure to apply it 15 to 30 minutes before going out into the sun.
Another key to safe tanning is to keep your sunscreen topped up, especially if you’re going to be staying out for a while.
Resist the tempting lure of binge tanning.
Not only will your tan last longer, you’ll also lower your risk of skin cancer, which is higher in people who have intense, intermittent exposure than those who are outdoors most of the time.9
Little and often is the way forward, gradually building up. Start with 15-30 minutes each side (depending on how fair or dark your skin is). And to ensure your tan is even from the get go, try using a body exfoliator prior to tanning.
But not alcohol, because you want your skin to be as hydrated as possible after a day being parched at the beach.
Dry, dehydrated skin can look wrinkly as it tans, which, let’s face it, is not exactly the look we’re going for here. Make sure you stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout the day.
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To be totally safe and avoid any risk of burning, ditch sunbathing altogether and invest in a good quality bottle of fake tan, which allows you to build up colour gradually, and will take you from pale to golden quicker than sun-worshipping will!
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Are you wondering, ‘what is the best time to sunbathe’? To avoid burning straight away, it’s best to stay out of the sun from 10am-3pm – this is particularly important if you have fairer skin.
Any time when the sun is shining outside of those hours, the sun’s rays won’t be as strong meaning you can have a better chance of tanning in a sustainable way.
As well as avoiding the hours when the sun is at its peak, it’s important to not stay in direct sunlight for hours on end. Use a timer so you’re not tempted to “cheat” over your sun tanning time.
Equally, your body will stop producing melanin after a certain amount of time – so the hours spent in the sun after this may be damaging your skin rather than tanning it.
Sunglasses and shades aren’t just fashion accessories. While they can make you feel like a film star, they’re actually a handy tool to help you stay safe while sunbathing.
If you’re following advice like ours on how to sunbathe in a safe way, there are some potential health benefits you may experience. Learn about some of the key benefits of sunbathing below:
We’ve explored all about safe tanning in our guide, so now all you need to know is how to get set up to soak up some rays in a safe way.
Once you’ve applied your sunscreen (15-30 minutes before sun exposure), make sure you’re wearing some light clothing so you don’t overheat, or even some swimwear if you’re heading to the beach!
Find a comfy spot where you have access to the shade nearby, plenty of water on hand, timer set and get relaxing!
Joined Holland & Barrett: May 2019
BSc Hons in Pharmaceutical & Cosmetic Science
Manisha started her career at a Cosmetics distributor as a Regulatory Technologist followed by a Regulatory Affairs Officer, ensuring the regulatory compliance of cosmetic products from colour cosmetics to skincare.
After 3 and half years in this role, Manisha joined Holland & Barrett as a Senior Regulatory Affairs Associate in 2019.
Manisha specialises in Cosmetic products, both own-label and branded lines, ensuring that these products and all relating marketing material comply to the EU Cosmetics Regulation.