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A Base Tan Will Protect My Skin, Right?

by Will / July, 12 2017 01:30

Woman on the beach in a straw hat

The short answer – no, a base tan is not a way to protect your skin from the sun. As dermatologist Dr. Lisa Chipps said to the Skin Cancer Foundation “…just as there’s no safe amount of smoking, you can’t get a little safe tan. The damage it does, even if it’s just a bit here and there, adds up over time and contributes to overall aging as well as skin cancer.”

A Tan is a Form of Skin Damage

I think that sums it up pretty well. The concept of a base tan is…well…baseless. Any tan is you skin’s response to UV exposure and is a form of skin damage. A base tan may not hurt the way sunburn does, but it’s still skin damage and over time (often decades if not years) all that skin damage will add up and manifest itself in the form of wrinkles, spots, or skin cancer.

Tanning Beds are not a Safe Alternative

You may have heard someone say they get their tan from a tanning bed because it’s safer. Nothing could be further from the truth. Here again we look to Dr. Lisa Chipps:

Tanning beds are not safer than lying out in the sun. In fact, people who have ever used a tanning bed have a 67 percent increased risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma and a 29 percent increased risk of developing basal cell carcinoma. People who first use a tanning bed before age 35 increase their risk of melanoma by 75 percent. Melanoma is very prevalent in women in their early 20s, and a lot of that is attributed to tanning bed use. That’s one of the reasons many states have restricted their use for minors.

That is a big risk increase in my opinion. If someone told me something I did, even if I loved it, increased my risk of cancer by 67% I’d stop cold turkey. It’s just not worth it.

Not convinced? Our article The Dangerous Truths of Indoor Tanning has a more in-depth look into the dangers of tanning beds.

Practice Safe Fun in the Sun

So what can or should you do to keep your skin healthy? Sunscreen for one and also clothes, shade, and avoiding peak sun exposure times. I don’t advocate avoiding the sun completely, it’s wonderful to get out and play – I love spending time outside. But I do believe in playing protected. That’s why I make sunscreen part of my daily routine.

For more check out our Suncare Smarts and Skin Care articles.

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