Let's talk about tanning in the sunshine. UVA rays from the sun are mainly responsible for that tanning effect you get after sitting out in the sun. UVB rays will give you a sunburn if you stay out too long. However if you're not looking to get particularly crispy, UBV rays aren't necessarily bad as long as you only get a little sun exposure each day. In fact, UVB rays allow your body to produce vitamin D, as well as new sun-protective melanin for a healthier tan (Mercola, 2013). So for those of you who like to get color all in one day- you're doing it wrong. 15 minutes a day is a healthy dose of sun and important for your vitamin D levels. Please note, however, that 15 minutes in the sun is obviously NOT the same as 15 minutes in a tanning bed. Make sure to speak with an employee at your tanning salon about how the maximum time in each tanning bed translates into sun basking time. Also inquire about which beds have more UVB or UVA bulbs. Beds with more UBV bulbs are typically the cheaper beds and more likely to result in a burn if you go in for too long. You can trust me on that- my first job was working at a tanning salon.
Spray tans and self-tanner lotions are loaded with all kinds of chemicals. In fact, spray tans can contain as many as 45 different chemicals. So many of these chemicals are not regulated by the FDA. The safety of using these chemicals isn't even necessarily tested by the manufacturers. So you can imagine that whatever it is, it's not very safe. Consider that anything you put on your skin is absorbed into your blood stream in just 26 seconds. Still feel safe?
Dihydroxyacetone (DHA) is a main chemical used in spray tans. We do know that the U.S. government's regulations on DHA allows for contaminants such as lead, arsenic, and mercury. DHA has also been thought to be a mutagen, which can induce breaks in DNA strands, thus contributing to accelerated aging and skin cancer (Mercola, 2013). If you couldn't quite say "no" to my question of, "still feel safe?" before, I hope there's no question about it now. No, spray tanning isn't safe and depending on how often you spray, it can be just as damaging or worse than sitting out in the sun.
Check your at home self-tanners, too! Always check the labels and ingredients!
Learn more here:
HuffPost Living: DHA and spray tans
NYDailyNews- spray tanning could cause cancer
abc.net- tanning lotions
Chemical of the Day- dangers of sunless tanners
"Sunless Tanning: Why Baking Is Out and Faking Is In." Mercola.com. N.p., 9 Feb. 2013. Web. 25 June 2013. <http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/02/09/sunless-tanning-lotion.aspx>.