Skin tanning is when UV rays from the sun or synthetic rays from a tanning bed or booth penetrate your skin to darken its pigmentation. It causes injury to the DNA or your skin and in turn gives your skin a bronzed look. Regular exposure to the sun’s UV rays or skin tanning at a salon poses health risks such as cancer and can also cause premature aging. 

If you are frequenting a tanning salon, or if you are out in the sun everyday for long periods of time it is important to take note of your health. Make sure that you are checking your skin after every visit to a tanning bed or outdoor activity for any mysterious or sudden changes to your skin. Although it does not automatically signify a serious condition such as cancer, the effects of sun poisoning or an allergic reaction to the sun can cause significant harm to your health. Dermatologists do not recommend tanning and can give you skin safety tips to help your skin remain free and clear of damage. 

Many skin specialists recommend using self-bronzing lotions as an alternative to tanning. These are not to be used in place of sunscreen, but are instead intended to give you a natural glow without going outdoors or to a tanning bed. Some of these lotions can be applied right after showering or sprayed on with little to nor harm done. It is important to choose products that do not contain harmful ingredients, so look for an ingredient list that is pronounceable and fairly short and simple. Anything more, and you might as well go outside for a natural tan. 

A study originally conducted at the University of Arizona in the 1980’s showed that a research peptide, Melanotan 2, caused darkening of the skin in rodents. It has not been approved yet for use on humans, but the studies of this tanning peptide in mice and rats show that the peptide could possibly promote natural sunless skin darkening and protection from harmful UV rays . Further research is being conducted on this thoroughly studied peptide. It could potentially provide an alternative, much like self-tanning lotions to allow tanning without the use of UV rays but human studies and results are not being implemented at this time as further research is needed. 

Getting a glow from the sun is thought to be more beneficial than spending time in a tanning bed. The sun’s UV rays should be taken seriously and with caution, but even more so with the synthetic rays produced by a tanning booth. These rays are penetrating the skin with more intensity in short spurts and usually people are overdoing the time they spend in the booth. The desire to look more tan causes many tanning salon patrons to spend altogether too much time in the tanning booth which quickly produces premature aging. 

Skin tanning did not used to be popular, in fact, it was considered something of a curse to have darkening of the skin from the sun. In times past, it was considered to be a vision of beauty to maintain a white complexion as it showed you were from the upper class and did not need to get your hands dirty by working in the fields. Tanning used to be something that peasants had to succumb to because of a labor-intensive lifestyle, but now the trend has flipped. Millions around the world are tanning indoors and outdoors as a regular way of life. It has become a lucrative business across all seasons since vacationers are looking to get a tan before going on vacation or special events like getting married or taking family portraits. 

Skin tanning is not recommended by most skin experts and many states in the USA have prohibited the use of tanning beds and joining tanning salons if under the age of 18. This is done in order to prevent youth from attaining premature skin at an early age and placing themselves for even further damage to their skin as they grow and spend time outdoors. The risks are serious and can be deadly. Not only in skin cancer a concern, but some have suffered infections due to poorly sanitized tanning beds. 

The sun is not our enemy, but it’s best to take the necessary precautions to keep our skin healthy when we are exposed to UV rays. Wear a sunscreen if recommended, try a tanning-free bronzing lotion, stay up to date on other developing tanning methods, and visit a specialist with any concerns.