Sun Tanning important facts

Sun Tanning, important facts that you need to know

sun tanThe sun tan was not always a status symbol of luxury. In fact, it was a sign of the hard working man, brown from exposure of manual labour day after day.

Society’s view of the tan changed when CoCo Chanel stepped off her plane to the full view of paparazzi with a dark tan, the result of sunburn whilst visiting the French Riviera.

Not long after this, the tan was associated with someone who lived the Jet-Set lifestyle, travelling to exotic locations, the demand for this look soared and it hasn’t changed.

The Tanning Process

A sun tan is the result of exposure to Ultra Violet light (U.V). This U.V light interacts with our skin and our natural defences go into overdrive to create a pigment called melanin.

Melanin production is a defence mechanism against cellular damage caused by UV light exposure. Melanin is dark in colour, as our skin is exposed to higher levels of U.V light, Melanin rich cells migrate to the surface, absorbing the U.V radiation and preventing cellular damage. In doing this our skin appears darker.

Because U.V. Light doesn’t have to come from the sun in order to achieve this affect, previous ways of inducing a tan include sources of artificial U.V. Light, such as sun beds.

Sun Damage

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Image by Harold Navarro

As the trend for the sun-kissed look grew over the last century, so too did the number of noticeable side effects from over exposure to the sun., These side effects are not just limited to sunlight and are also more pronounced when the skin is exposed to concentrated levels of U.V radiator.

Cosmetically extensive skin damage as a result of constant exposure to U.V light can cause the skin to age at a much more rapid rate than usual. However the main risk of sun damage is the risks associated with cancer.

Sun damage causes a specific type of cancer called Melanoma, this cancer is aggressive, very hard to spot and, if not treated quickly enough can be, and often is deadly. Australia currently has the highest number of cases of Melanoma, but in America it still costs the lives of over 10 000 Americans each year.

Melanoma is also known as skin cancer, and the risk in the growing trend of a natural sun tan is that  it can be caused not only by excessive exposure to sunlight but also from artificial sources of U.V light, especially sun beds. Studies have shown that as little as 10 minutes on a sun bed can cause a fatal melanoma to form.

Modern Tanning

All is not lost, as much as our knowledge of sun damage has increased over the last 100 years, so too has our ability to protect the skin and provide cosmetic tanning solutions. Now there are healthier options to achieving that sun-kissed glow, such as spray tans, U.V protection, liquid tan and bronzing agents, which mean you spend less time in the sun and more time looking great.

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