Spring and summer is the perfect to work on getting an attractive, healthy tan. The only problem is that the very idea of a “healthy tan” is a myth – any tan is a sign of damaged skin. When you tan, that’s actually your body trying to prevent additional damage to your skin cells’ DNA.
The idea that tan is beautiful is a historically recent development. It wasn’t until the 1920s, in fact, that tanned skin was popularized as a fashion statement. Unfortunately, it’s a statement that can come at a tremendous cost – just ask any of the more than 2 million people who are diagnosed with skin cancer every year.
There are a few things you can do to protect your skin.
First, avoid tanning beds. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, people who use tanning beds have a 59% increased risk of developing melanoma.
Next, start regularly using sunscreen. Regardless of skin color, you should apply at least SPF 30 sunscreen any time you’re going to be in the sun. Make sure it’s water-resistant if you plan on getting into the pool. Ideally, you would apply SPF 15 sunscreen even if you weren’t going to be spending time in the sun. You should also use sunglasses that block 99-100% of both UVA and UVB rays. This will decrease your odds of developing cancer around the eyes.
If – despite your best efforts – you still receive sunburn, you should take an aspirin or ibuprofen, drink extra water and apply moisturizer. If the sunburn is severe, you should see a doctor.