Yes, summer means plenty of sunshine. And when you think of sunshine, one of the best and is…sunbathing! That’s right, people enjoy getting their tan on. And obviously, nothing beats that natural golden glow. But hold up. Before you lay out that beach towel in your backyard and stay under the sun for hours on end, there are a few things you have to know.
1. Go on a Healthy Tan Diet
Take note that you’re dealing with your skin, which is a body part. In order for it to function right, consuming the right kind of food is necessary. Add some sun-friendly food in your everyday fare. There are certain food that increase lycopene production in your body. Lycopene is the body’s own SPF. Some examples of food rich in lycopene are papaya, tomatoes, watermelon and grapefruit.
For dermatologist Samantha Bunting, the antioxidant polyphenol can help with having a naturally great tan too. Where can you get this antioxidant? Try some green tea, black chokeberries, dark chocolate or star anise.
Also, there are food that can protect your skin from sunburn and too much sun exposure. Load up on carrots, almonds, pomegranates, and leafy greens such as kale, spinach, Swiss chard and green lettuce.
2. Sunbeds Are a No-No
No, indoor tanning does not count as legit sunbathing. For one, you’re getting the wrong kind of UV. These tanning beds pump out huge amounts of UVA and practically no UVB. UVB rays are what you need as this stimulates vitamin B.
Unfortunately, UVA rays can penetrate deep into the dermis, which is the skin’s thickest layer. This can lead to rapid premature skin aging and wrinkling and suppression of the immune system.
Also, according to skin expert Dr. Nick Lowe, these tanning beds will increase your risk of skin cancer by 75 percent.
3. Exfoliate, Exfoliate, Exfoliate
Before heading out to get your suntan on, it’s a good idea to exfoliate your skin first. Exfoliating removes dead skin cells from the uppermost layer of the skin. This allows for fresh skin to appear. The act of removing these dead skin cells evens out your skin tone, removes dirt and oil that clog your pores, and also prevents acne.
The lesser the buildup of dead skin cells, the shallower your layer of skin. This makes your natural tan last longer. Removing dead skin cells also allows you to tan more easily as the tan will appear and fade evenly.
You can make your own homemade scrub with sugar, salt, and oatmeal. You can make use of this mixture with a loofah pad or an exfoliating glove.
4. Sunscreen Is Your Friend
So now you’ve gotten rid of those dead skin cells. Your skin is prepped and ready to go! To help you out even more, make sure to load up on sunscreen. And not just any old type of sunscreen will do. Take note that not all sunscreens are created equal. The most important and best sunscreen ingredient is zinc oxide. This is followed by titanium oxide. Also, the SPF that you see on most sunscreens is important. This stands for sun protection factor, and this extends the time that you can spend under the sun without getting skin damage.
According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), higher SPF numbers, like SPF50, provide better protection against ultraviolet B “burning rays” (UVB). However, they don’t provide UVA protection. Remember to apply sunscreen around 15-30 minutes before heading out into the sun. Also, keep in mind to reapply sunscreen 15-30 minutes after laying out under the sun’s rays.
According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), “the safest skin exposure to the sun results from early reapplication into the sun-exposed period. Meaning the earlier you apply sunscreen once you’re exposed, the less damage UV rays will do to your skin.”
5. Get the Right Tanning Time
Take note that your skin has a tanning cut-off point. That’s when your skin stops producing melanin, which is the tanning pigment. For an even overall tan, ideally, you should lay on your back for only about 20-30 minutes. After, go ahead and lay on your stomach for an additional 20-30 minutes. Make sure you don’t go beyond these times. This will ensure that you don’t get a nasty sunburn, or worse, the risk of UV damage.
Also, it is important that you choose when in the day you decide to sunbathe. The United States Environmental Protection Agency says that UV strength is the strongest from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. during sunny summer days. Make sure to stay in the shade during these times.
6. Cover Up
It’s best to always have protection for your skin. If you need to be out and about during the hottest times of the day, protect your skin. Wear a wide-brimmed hat in order to protect your face. Make sure your ears, eyes, forehead, nose, and scalp are all properly covered. Or if you want, shade caps work well too. And since these caps have some fabric that drape down the sides and back, they can protect your neck as well.
Sunglasses that protect against UVA and UVB rays are a good idea as well. Take note that the skin around your eyes, including your eyes themselves, are very delicate to UV rays. If not protected properly, it might result in the development of eye diseases. These include cataracts, age-related macular degeneration, and even eye cancer.
It’s also ideal that you wear clothes that cover up your arms and legs. It’s especially important to cover up the back and the chest. These are the parts of the body that are often overexposed to UV rays. These are also the most common places for melanoma to form.
7. Seek the Shade
In order to get that tan, you don’t have to stay under the sun for the entire day. According to Dr. Frank Schwanke, the head of suncare R&D for Beiersdorf, “Taking breaks from the sun will reduce UV intensity and your sunburn risk and means your tan will be healthier and longer lasting.” Remember, it’s very important that you pay close attention to the tips mentioned above. Because sunbathing done the wrong way will definitely cause damage. For example, when staying out under the song for too long, you might get dehydrated. If you don’t watch out, your blood pressure might drop significantly, enough to make you collapse. This is called a heat stroke.
Also, when too much UV radiation penetrates the skin, it can cause changes in cell. These changes lead to sunburn, premature aging, DNA damage, and ultimately, skin cancer.