Tanning Tips — A Guide to Safe Tanning

woman in bikini receiving consultation from a female nurse

Summer time is just around the corner and many of us want to be ready with a beautiful bronze, all-over tan. But before heading over to your local tanning salon or taking those tanning pills, there are some essential facts about tanning that everyone ought to know. 

Risks of Tanning

Tanning is fine but it should be done very carefully and you need to be aware of the risks and dangers associated with the various types of tanning options available to you.

Aging Skin

The major danger with sun tanning is the exposure to ultraviolet light. Extended exposure to ultraviolet radiation from whatever source ages the skin. It also has the potential to cause what’s known as solar radiation damage, and could also lead to cancer of the skin. So the implications of sun tanning are not something to be taken lightly.

[Related: Preventing and Treating Age Spots]

Rashes, Sunburn, and Other Skin Issues

Exposure to ultraviolet light can also be responsible for rashes and sunburn. And it is not regularly known that ultraviolet light can also cause fungal skin infections and contact dermatitis. Indeed whether you are tanning in natural sunlight or using a tanning bed, ultraviolet is present in both, so utmost care is required. You should always bear in mind that there is no such thing as totally safe ultraviolet radiation.


Excessive tanning can result in skin conditions such as melasma, whose telltale sign is brown patches on the face, actinic keratosis (AK), and atypical nevus. And certain medications, including birth control pills, can make your skin more susceptible to sunburn. People with existing skin conditions must, therefore, take extra care when in the sun.

The intention here isn’t to put you off tanning altogether, but to simply put you on your guard to be very careful whilst tanning and to be aware constantly of the degree of risk you are taking. As the saying goes – forewarned is forearmed!

Tanning Precautions

Most people, typically women, begin their tanning habit as part of a beauty regime, frequently when quite young. So if you must tan, then let’s take a look at the precautions you can take to protect your skin.

Time Out Your Tans

The safest way to tan is to do it slowly and gradually over as long a period of time as possible. And always use sunscreen when out in the sun and protective goggles provided in tanning salons. These are two of the fundamental rules you should rigidly stick to.

[Related: What is Microdermabrasion?]

Use Sunscreen

It is recommended that people with certain skin conditions should use a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15. But if you do have any pre-existing skin conditions, always consult with your doctor first.

Sunscreen should be applied all over any skin to be exposed at least a half-hour before commencing tanning, whether in direct sunlight or in the salon. And if you engage in any outdoor activities for extended periods of time, sunscreen should be applied about every two hours.

Benefits of Sun Exposure

However, the news isn’t all bad. Indeed sun exposure in moderation can be good for the skin. Sufferers from eczema, pruritus, psoriasis and other skin conditions can actually see improvements with moderate exposure to the sun. But as with everything, tanning sensibly and in moderation is the key.

Natural Tanning Alternatives

Of course, there are also alternatives to tanning in direct sunlight or using tanning beds.

Spray Tans

For example, sunless tanning is becoming increasingly popular. In sunless tanning, you will enter a room and a machine will spray you with a product that darkens the skin. This spray contains the chemical DHA (an abbreviation for dihydroxyacetone), a substance that gives skin a tan color. This chemical has actually been approved in the United States as safe to use for over twenty-five years.

Obviously sunless tanners are for external use only and when they are being applied, you should ensure that you adequately protect your eyes, nose and other sensitive parts of the body.

Another great thing about spray tanning is that you can choose the shade of tan for your body. You can ask the technician which shade whether it be Light, Medium, or Dark.

As compared to sun tanning this is a more controlled option. By choosing the frequency of tanning you can eventually choose how dark you would like to look. Hence you can look just the way you want to without any trouble.

Spray tanning happens in controlled environments and under the supervision of trained professionals hence the chances of cancer or any other health problem are minimized.

[Related: Six Steps to Clear Skin]

Tanning Pills

You might also have come across tanning pills. These can be found on sale at some tanning salons. However, at least in the United States, they are not currently approved as safe and have been associated with certain types of eye disorders.

Some tanning pills have also been linked to liver damage and to urticaria, a skin condition that produces severe itching.

In conclusion, we all want healthy skin and to look our best in the summer with a beautifully tanned body. Tanning is fine, but do it safely and be aware of how long you are exposed to the sun and harmful ultraviolet radiation. Keep in mind these guidelines and you will be less likely to encounter any serious problems when tanning.

Athré Facial Plastics can help you figure out which skin treatment is best for you to achieve that healthy, sun-kissed glow. Contact us today for a consultation!