The sun can hurt – we can help!

Us humans look great with a tan. A little color helps us look healthier, younger, and even slimmer! Unfortunately, that color can come at a cost. I don’t mean money, I mean your health!

Sunburn is the most common health problem associated with too much sun exposure. I know what you’re thinking: “Sunburn isn’t fun, but we’ve all had it to varying degrees and we’re fine”… but it’s not just annoying and uncomfortable, sun burn is actually the result of deep cellular damage to your skin cells.  Over time, this damage becomes noticeable in other ways. It can give the skin that “leathery” look. It’s more wrinkly, flakey, and discolored that healthy skin. It is also weakened and will bruise more easily, even if it appears to be thicker.

Still not concerned about health effects from the sun? You might be surprised to learn that skin cancer is the most common type of cancer found today, and many doctors believe that limiting over-exposure to the sun can help prevent it. Too much exposure to direct sunlight can increase your chances of developing skin cancer, and certain skin cancers, such as melanoma, can also spread to other areas of the body if not treated in time, so it’s nothing to scoff at.

Staying out of direct sunlight is the best way to protect yourself, but there’s no way to completely avoid the sun! When you go outdoors, these tips will help minimize the damage:

Wear sunscreen! Be sure to look at the SPF number on your sunscreen. The larger the SPF number, the greater the amount of protection. Everyone should use a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15. If you have had skin cancer or pre-cancer, you should use a sunscreen with an even higher SPF. Many of the new sunscreens have SPFs of 30, 45, or even higher.

Wear sunglasses that filter UV light. Many brands make stylish shades that also offer this protection. UV Rays can damage your eyes as well as your skin.

Wear protective clothing to help shield your skin. Invest in a good hat! The top of your head is usually a tough spot to lather on the sunscreen, but your hair doesn’t cover your scalp the way a hat does.

Avoid the mid-day sun. The UV rays that damage your skin are most powerful between 10am to 3pm.

But what about getting a tan?

Many people lay out in direct sunlight for hours to get that perfect tan, but even with sunscreen on, UV rays can penetrate your skin and cause damage. Tanning beds, even though they aren’t real sunlight, carry the same risks because they use the same dangerous rays.

There’s good news, though – there are SAFE tanning products that you can use to bronze your skin without actually using the sun or tanning beds!

Airbrush tanning uses an all natural compound called DHA. DHA isn’t a dye, paint, or stain. It’s actually a non-toxic, organic compound that creates a chemical reaction with the amino acids in the outermost layer of your skin.  This reaction does not involve the underlying skin pigmentation, nor does it require exposure to ultraviolet light to initiate the change in color. DHA is approved by the FDA, and does not carry the serious risks that tanning outdoors or using a tanning bed does. It is a vegan, organic, and safe alternative. These tans last 7-10 days and are the safest option for those who desire tan skin but don’t want to risk the permanent damage that UV radiation can cause.

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The Safety of Spray Tans

By now, I’m sure you’ve seen the research showing how dangerous sun exposure can be. We’ve learned that the UV rays in the sun that damage our skin are also found in tanning beds. This might lead you to wondering about the safety of airbrush tanning as well.

Let’s start with the basics – What is an airbrush tan? How does it work?

When you get an airbrush tan, a technician uses as specialized tool to evenly spray a solution on your skin. This solution soaks into your skin and leaves you with a natural tan for approximately 7-10 days.  The solution we’re referring to contains Dihydroxyacetone or “DHA” – I know it sounds kind of scary, but DHA isn’t some sort of toxic chemical! In fact, it’s a completely NON-toxic, organic compound and it creates a reaction with the amino acids in the stratum corneum, which is the very outermost layer of your skin. This reaction is completely natural, it’s similar to the one that makes an apple turn brown when you cut into it. When you tan outdoors or in a tanning bed, the color change happens in the deepest layer of your skin, called the basal layer. UV Rays from the sun or the bed penetrate deeply into your body to initiate the color change, but it can also cause serious skin damage and even cancer. Your sun tan might be temporary, but the sun has broken down the DNA in your skin cells permanently. With DHA, nothing penetrates that deeply. The DHA stays on the surface of the skin and the reaction doesn’t affect anything below that first outer layer of skin. We are always shedding and re-growing skin. When that top skin flakes off, the color from your airbrush tan leaves with it. Nothing is permanent with an airbrush tan.

But is DHA safe?

The FDA has done extensive research and deemed DHA safe to use. You should not ingest the solution and you should not get it into your eyes, nose, or mouth. So, when you get an airbrush tan, keep your eyes and mouth closed, and don’t inhale the solution. Some people prefer to use nose clips as well, just to be safe. There are some people who have been known to have an allergic reaction to spray tans, but that’s usually due to other ingredients in the solutions used. If you’re sensitive and have many skin allergies, you might want to test a small area to see how it reacts before you do your whole body. Airbrush tanning does NOT carry the risk of skin cancer or photo-aging that the sun or tanning beds do.

There have been issues reported with other tanning products that are sometimes called tan enhancers, accelerators, promoters, or amplifiers. Many of these products interact with the sun to create an even deeper color, so they are actually accentuating the damage done to the skin by the sun itself. There are also oral pills, which are banned commercially in the U.S. and for good reason. They contain the carotenoid chemical (the same pigment found in carrots), and have been associated with a variety or disorders including hepatitis and hives.  Airbrush tanning contains NONE of these risks either. It won’t protect you from the dangers of the sun, though. So when you leave the house, you’re always encouraged to wear sunscreen with an appropriate SPF number to minimize your risk of damage from the sun.

So airbrush tanning is basically the safest way we’ve found to get a tan! It’s also the fastest. You can get a full body tan in about 15 minutes as opposed to laying in the sun for hours!  I bet you’ll be surprised to learn that it’s also quite affordable. Some salons, like Shine in Denver, even offer an option to do a mobile tanning session, where they bring the equipment to your house for you and tan you in the comfort of your own home! Give it a try and see for yourself. It’s fast, cheap, and SAFE! Why not?

Science of Tanning

1221There are several ways you can get a natural tan. The most obvious is from the sun. Light from the sun reaches the earth in three different forms: visible light, infrared light, and ultraviolet light. The last type, ultraviolet light, is classified into three separate categories:
* UVA or black light, which causes tanning.
* UVB, which typically causes damage in the form of sunburn.
* UVC, which doesn’t affect us because it’s filtered out by the atmosphere before it can get to our skin.
The problems we associate with sun exposure, such as premature aging, skin cancer, sun spots, etc. are primarily caused by harmful UVB rays. Research suggests UVA might have a hand in these things as well. Most of the sun’s UV radiation at sea level is UVA rays.
UVA can be reflected, as well. Snow actually reflects roughly 90% of UV light, which is why you can get severe sun burns while skiing or snow boarding. Sand reflects up to 20% of UVB too, so at the beach, you’re getting more UV exposure than you would be getting if you were sitting in your backyard. Water also reflects UV light, although it doesn’t prevent it from penetrating the surface of the water. You can still get burned while swimming. Some surfaces can absorb these rays rather than reflect them. Certain types of glass do this, and our own melanin in our skin absorbs UV light to some degree.

Ultraviolet light in the sun stimulates the production of melanin. This pigment protects cells from damage by absorbing as much UV radiation as it can. Imagine you put a sponge on top of a piece of paper and slowly dropped beads of water onto it. The sponge would soak the water up before it can ruin the paper. That’s sort of what your melanin does to UV rays. It can become saturated, though. Eventually if you keep dropping water on it, the paper will be ruined.

It’s this protective melanin in your skin which gets darker and creates what we call a tan. Caucasians typically have the least amount of melanin in their skin on a day-to-day basis, but in many other races, there is a continuous melanin production, which causes the skin to remain pigmented and also offers more protection against UV rays.

It’s important to note that all UV rays are potentially dangerous. They can cause deep damage to your cells, which results in painful sunburn at best and fatal skin cancer at worst. It’s important to protect yourself from skin damage by wearing sunscreen when you’re outside. Avoiding direct sunlight is the best way to protect yourself. This really ruins your chance at a tan, though.

There is one more way that you can get naturally darker skin, however. That’s through DHA.  DHA is an organic compound naturally found in your own body that creates a chemical reaction within the amino acids in the outermost layer of your skin when applied directly to the exterior of your body. This reaction does not involve the underlying skin pigmentation, nor does it require exposure to ultraviolet light to initiate the change in color.  It is similar to the maillard reaction which occurs in food. It’s a natural, temporary color that looks just like a tan that occurs from melanin. The active ingredient in airbrush tanning is DHA. The color produced in an airbrush tan typically lasts 7-10 days, but it is much safer than roasting yourself in the sun or using a tanning bed.

Facts About Sunscreen, Truth Vs. Myth

Do you know what the most common form of cancer is according to the American Cancer Society (ACS)? It might surprise you…  It’s Skin Cancer!Your skin is the largest organ of the body and when you expose it to sunlight, ultraviolet or UV rays can penetrate it and cause cancer. The good news is that the use of sunscreen can prevent this damage, but you have to use it properly! A shockingly high percentage of Americans aren’t using it correctly, though. There are a lot of myths and misunderstandings out there, so we’re here to share some tips on using the right sunscreen in the right way.

1. Not all sunscreens actually protect you from the sun.

How can that be? Well, many sunscreens only protect you from the sun’s UVB rays, and not UVA rays. Both types of UV rays can cause skin cancer according to the ACS. UVB rays are mostly responsible for sun burns on the top layers of your skin, but just because you didn’t burn, doesn’t mean that UVA rays didn’t penetrate deeper and cause damage.

The ACS, CDC, and FDA all recommend that you use sunscreens that are SPF 15 or higher and have “broad spectrum” written on the label. Broad Spectrum means that it protects against both UVB and UVA rays.

2. You need more than a dab.

According to studies, most people apply only 1/4 of the needed amount of sunscreen. We should be using one ounce of sunscreen to cover our arms, legs, neck and face. More if your back/stomach is exposed! One ounce is about a shot glass worth to put it in perspective.  Also note that sunscreen can and does wear off, so you need to reapply the same amount every two hours or after swimming or a work out that makes you sweat. Don’t skimp!

3. SPF 30 isn’t “twice the protection” as SPF 15.

The Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of your sunscreen is the fraction of rays that reach your skin, so SPF 15 means only 1/15 of UVB rays will reach the skin. SPF 30 can filter out 97 percent of UVB rays, whereas SPF 50 filters out 98 percent. There’s no evidence supporting that SPF values higher than 50 provide any additional protection.

4. Applying sunscreen while you’re outside is already too late.

Sunscreen takes about 30 minutes to be absorbed into your skin, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation, so apply it before going outside.

5. There’s no such thing as “waterproof” sunscreen.

Recent FDA regulations prevent companies from claiming sunscreen is “waterproof” anymore. Products can still claim to be “water resistant” for either 40 or 80 minutes of swimming or sweating. However, it is still recommending that you reapply sunscreen after getting wet.

6. You DO need sunscreen on a cloudy day!

Even if it’s cold or cloudy outside, you still need to wear sunscreen. Up to 40 percent of the sun’s UV rays reach the earth on a completely cloudy day. That’s more than enough to cause skin damage.

7. Developing a “base tan” does not protect you from UV radiation or sun burns.

UV rays can penetrate a tan. Your darker pigment only protects up to an equivalent of SPF 3 at most and usually that number is less. You still need to apply sunscreen.

8. What you wear can help.

You can help combat sun exposure by wearing clothes, hats and sunglasses that advertise UV protection. Not all glasses provide this protection, so be sure to check for it specifically. Watch your clothing, though. Loose, thin materials don’t offer total protection. A typical t-shirt offers protection of roughly SPF 15. If you’re going to spend a whole day outdoors in direct sunlight, you might want to consider putting on a layer of sunscreen even under a thin shirt!

9. Get an airbrush tan if you want some color.

Tanning beds use UV rays to give you a tan. These are the same types of harmful rays in the sun. If you want a tan, FDA-approved airbrush tanning is the way to go. It’s not a dye or stain, the organic compound DHA in airbrush tanning formulas reacts naturally with the top layer of your skin to create a tan that only affects this top layer and doesn’t damage your skin. These tans last 7-10 days and are the safest option for those who desire tan skin but don’t want to risk the permanent damage that UV radiation can cause.

 

The Truth About Sun Exposure

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What are the dangers?

Sunburn is the most immediate danger of too much exposure to the sun. Sunburn isn’t just uncomfortable, it’s actually deep celluar damage to the skin cells and blood vessels! Over time, this damage makes the skin look leathery, discolored, wrinkly, and flakey. This skin is weakened and will bruise more easily, even though it appears to be thicker.

The biggest danger, however, is skin cancer. Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer found today, and many doctors believe that limiting over-exposure to the sun can help prevent it. Certain skin cancers, such as melanoma, can also spread to other areas of the body if not treated in time.

What are the benefits?

Your body absorbs vitamin D from the sun. This used to be an important reason to catch some rays, but today many foods are manufactured to be fortified with Vitamin D. You get more Vitamin D through your food these days than ever before, so it’s not quite as necessary to get it from the sun anymore.

Being outdoors is makes people feel good and getting exercise is healthy, but you should still take steps to protect yourself from the damaging effects of the sun while you’re outside enjoying yourself.

How can I avoid damage from the sun?

Staying out of direct sunlight is the best way to protect yourself, but unless you’re a vampire, you’re going to need to go outdoors! So when you do, these tips will help minimize the damage:

Wear sunscreen! Always. Every day. Even in winter. Be sure to look at the SPF number on your sunscreen. The larger the SPF number, the greater the amount of protection. Everyone should use a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15. If you have had  skin cancer or precancer, you should use a sunscreen with an even higher SPF. Many of the new sunscreens have SPFs of 30, 45, or even higher.

Wear sunglasses that filter UV light. Many brands make stylish shades that also offer this protection.

Wear protective clothing, including brimmed hats, to help sheild your skin.

Avoid the mid-day sun. The UV rays that damage your skin are most powerful between 10am to 3pm.

What about getting a tan?

Many people like the way a suntan makes them look. And indeed, a tan can make you look younger, healthier, and reduce the appearance of cellulite and age spots. But is vanity worth the risk of skin cancer? No, it certainly isn’t! Many women lay out in direct sunlight for hours to get that perfect tan, but even with sunscreen on, UV rays can penetrate your skin and cause damage. Tanning beds, even though they aren’t real sunlight, carry the same risks.

There’s good news, though – there are many tanning products that you can use to bronze your skin without actually using the sun or tanning beds!

Airbrush tanning uses an all natural compound called DHA. DHA isn’t a dye, paint, or stain. It’s actually a non-toxic, organic compound that creates a chemical reaction with the amino acids in the outermost layer of your skin.  This reaction does not involve the underlying skin pigmentation, nor does it require exposure to ultraviolet light to initiate the change in color. DHA is approved by the FDA, and does not carry the serious risks that tanning outdoors or using a tanning bed does.

 

The Truth About Tanning Beds

I have to admit that I have been seduced by the idea of the tanning bed. All you have to do is lie down in a bright room for a few minutes and walk out with gorgeous tan skin? Sign me up! If 28 million Americans are tanning in beds and booths every year, there must be no harm in it, right? Wrong… like any other seemingly easy fix, it comes at a high price – and not just from your bank account!

Dr. Felix Müller invented the first tanning unit with UV lamps for the public consumer in 1956. Fifty-five years later, tanning beds and stand-up booths are made up of high pressure bulbs that hold a higher ratio of UVA light than that of the atmosphere. The UVA and UVB lamps used in tanning beds are 2-3 times stronger than then sun because of the pressure levels and proximity to your body. Call me crazy, but I’d think twice before entering any device that claims to be stronger than the sun itself!

Low pressure beds and booths are also an option, and are recommended for beginners because of their low pressure release of only UVB rays. I find this recommendation completely ridiculous considering that UVB rays are the most harmful to your skin! Because of their deep penetration, UVB rays are the leading cause of skin cancer. It has been proven that indoor tanning increases your risk of developing melanoma by 74%. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, “melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer, killing approximately 8,650 Americans in 2009.”

Even the kids on the Jersey shore have come to realize the life-threatening effects of indoor tanning! On an episode of Extra, Dr. Deborah Sarnoff, the Vice President of the Skin Cancer Foundation, did a life changing intervention with the cast of Jersey Shore to enlighten them about the dangers of the “T” in their daily GTL. Pauly D even admitted that he was going to put his tanning bed up on craigslist! Whatever happened to the age of the parasol and the over-sized hat?

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