Young Australians know too much sun will damage their skin. “Fake it don’t bake it” is the message of the day. The question is, how can you safely get the “healthy glow” so loved by the beauty-conscious?
There are many ways of tanning indoors including dyes, bronzers and tinted sunscreens, tan accelerators and sun tanning booths. Although these options eliminate or reduce your risk of developing skin cancers, some may still carry health risks.
Topical dyes – tanning lotions, creams, sprays, mousses, combined moisturiser and “fake tan” products – are generally made up of vegetable dyes that darken the skin to give the temporary appearance of a tan. This is probably one of the safest options to achieve the glow you prefer; there are no obvious health risk to the skin cells. The tan will fade within a few days.
This form of tanning is generally but not limited to tinted cosmetic and sun protection products such as moisturisers, foundation, powders and sunscreen. The bronzer gives your skin a temporary colour that washes off with soap and water. This too is considered a safe tanning option.
This form of tanning, though not the most popular on the beauty market, still offers that golden effect by enhancing the levels of melanin in your body. The more melanin there is in the pigment cells, the darker the skin. Be warned: these will not protect against UV rays and should not be used as sun creams.
This is the most popular and efficient way to achieve a tanned look. An even coat of fake tan solution is sprayed onto the body, and left to soak in for two to six hours. After you wash off the excess coating your skin is left with an even, natural-looking tan.
The key ingredient to the spray tan formula, DHA, has raised some health concerns. A panel of medical experts told ABC News that the spray can cause genetic mutations and DNA damage when inhaled and absorbed into the bloodstream. As anyone who has ever been “bronzed up” can tell you, it is pretty difficult to avoid ingesting some of the mist while the tan formula is applied.
Though salon owners will argue that controlled bronzing under a UV light is harmless, the bare truth is that any colour on your skin is a sign that some damage, however minor, has occurred.
A professional Sydney beauty therapist, Tracy Schembri, told The Newsroom, “In some ways, UV rays are beneficial to humans, as they synthesise vitamin D and serve as a bactericide.” But there’s a flipside: “They can also be harmful, accelerating the ageing of skin, causing spots, fine lines and even cancer. That’s why protection against UV radiation is necessary.”
Which raises the dread spectre of melanoma. Though it is a relatively rare form of skin cancer, it is one of the most deadly, ranking third among Australia’s leading fatal cancers.
Still keen to get a tan? In summary, the experts believe the safest thing is to stick to the creams and gels as they offer the most natural ingredients. If you’re looking for an instant glow and don’t have time to do it yourself, a two-hour spray tan is the best option. – Keira Thanos
Top photo (feet) from Bill Hutchison’s Flickr photo stream billh18.