Sun 101 |

5 Tanning Myths That You Should Stop Believing

It’s June, which means “getting a tan” might be top of mind for most of you. But as a brand devoted to SPF and your skin’s health, we want to set the record straight on tanning and all of the myths related to it.

Myth No. 1: It’s OK to get a light tan or a “base tan.”

Write this down or commit this to memory: Any change of color on your skin that is caused by UV light is a sign of skin damage. Why? Well, the changing color of your skin is a sign of an increase in the production of melanin, which is your skin’s attempt to protect it from further damage – kind of like a defense mechanism.

“Any tan is an injury to the skin, putting you at risk not only for skin cancer, but also for premature aging of the skin,” says Pennsylvania-based dermatologist Lynn Klein. “Wrinkled, leathery-looking skin looks great on a handbag or shoes, but not on your skin.”

Myth No. 2: You can tan as much as you want as long as your skin doesn’t get sunburned or you don’t see any immediate damage from it.

A lot of people think that it’s OK to get tan (or even to use tanning beds) if their skin never gets visibly damaged or burned right afterwards.

“Ultraviolet radiation, whether from the sun or from a tanning bed, is a carcinogen,” says Klein. “You can’t get ‘a little bit’ of color and expect yourself to be safe. Sun damage, even if it isn’t immediately visible, adds up over time and can manifest itself on your skin later in life, contributing to aging, as well as skin cancer.”

“Wrinkled, leathery-looking skin looks great on a handbag or shoes, but not on your skin.”

Dr. Klein

Myth No. 3: Layering SPF 20 and SPF 10 gives you SPF 30 protection when you’re tanning, which is plenty of protection.

SPF numbers do not “add up,” meaning you won’t create SPF 30 protection by simply wearing SPF 20 on top of SPF 10. You’ll just be getting a lot of SPF 20 protection, which isn’t enough protection to keep your skin safe from sun damage, especially if you’re out in the sun for long periods of time.

We really recommend wearing SPF 50 when you’re outside all day, and reapplying frequently. Our favorite does-it-all sunscreen that has SPF 50 is our original SPF best seller, PLAY Everyday Lotion.

tanning myths

Myth No. 4: Tanning beds are a totally safe way to tan.

Not so fast… Just because tanning beds exist, doesn’t mean they’re safe. Tanning bed usage results in long-term damage that you may not see right away, but when it occurs, it can be deadly.

“One of the biggest myths about tanning, particularly about tanning beds, is that it is safe to use tanning beds occasionally, and the type of rays emitted by tanning beds are not harmful,” says Long Beach, NY-based dermatologist Charisse Dolitsky. “In fact, the ultraviolet radiation emitted by tanning beds, both UVA and UVB, have been declared a carcinogen by the United States Department of Health and Human Services. Research has shown that the risk of melanoma, which is the most deadly type of skin cancer, increases dramatically, by 75 percent, after even ONE exposure before the age of 35, and the risk continues to rise with each subsequent use.  Every single exposure causes a tremendous amount of damage.”

And just because tanning beds primarily emit UVA rays (the ones that don’t cause sunburns), the damage is still happening, at a very deep level. “The [UVA] dosage is much more concentrated than the amounts of UVA that can possibly reach the skin naturally from the sun,” says Dolitsky. “The harmful effects do not manifest immediately so it is crucial that everyone be made aware of the risks.”

Myth no. 5: Tanning helps dry out acne.

We hear this one more often than we’d like. It’s probably because people have seen false positive results when they expose their acne to sunlight. We’ll let board-certified New York-based dermatologist Karen Hammerman explain:

“The sun does not actually clear your skin. What you’re seeing when you expose acne to sun is the tan darkening the skin around pimples, thus making them stand out less.”

Dr. Hammerman

“The sun does not actually clear your skin. What you’re seeing when you expose acne to sun is the tan darkening the skin around pimples, thus making them stand out less,” she says. “In addition, UV rays damage the skin, weakening the natural barrier, and causing it to lose moisture. While at first this means your oily zones dry up, your skin tries to fix this by producing more and more of its own oils. So instead of preventing or lessening breakouts, sun exposure worsens the root of the problem.”

“It also leads to overproduction by and overgrowth of sebaceous glands, and can make blackheads more likely to occur,” continues Hammerman. “Furthermore, the sunlight causes inflammation, which can cause hyperpigmentation, or darkening of already existing acne scars.”

Moreover, Joshua Zeichner, the director of cosmetic and clinical dermatology at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York City, says that if you have acne, you may on an acne medication and “some acne medications can make the skin sensitive to sunburn, so it’s important to be extra careful when going into the sun.”

Bottom line

We hope our mythbusting helped you see that unfortunately there’s no such thing as a good tan. In fact, the only safe tan is a fake tan, and that’s exactly why we’ve created products like Healthy Glow Sunless Tan with SPF 40 – so you can have healthy, glowing skin with sun protection in the mix. Learn how to use Healthy Glow Sunless Tan here.

+Have more questions about tanning or being out in the sun and protecting your skin? Leave them below!