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.

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?

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.

 

Facts About Sunscreen

Woman Applying Tanning Lotion to Legs at Beach

SPF, or Sun Protection Factor, measures the ability of a sunscreen’s protection against UVB rays, so “if it takes 20 minutes for your unprotected skin to start turning red, using an SPF 15 sunscreen theoretically prevents reddening 15 times longer — about five hours.” But the math is not congruent. This doesn’t mean that you can apply SPF 15 and be safe in the sun for 5 hours, because “no sunscreen, regardless of strength, should be expected to stay effective longer than two hours without reapplication.”

In addition, SPF 30 does not provide twice as much protection as SPF 15. On the contrary, looking at percentages, there’s not much of a difference between the two. SPF 15 blocks approximately 93% of all UVB rays, while SPF 30 blocks 97% and SPF 50 blocks 98%. To top it all off, sunscreens that claim to be water-proof or water-resistant can be very misleading. If you’ve got your calculators out already, don’t forget to factor in that water-resistant sunscreens will wash off after about 40 to 80 minutes. When choosing a sunscreen, SPF 15 or 30 that is Broad Spectrum, meaning it protects from both UVA and UVB rays, is sufficient protection from the sun. Just make sure that you reapply every 2 hours, or about every hour when swimming, with a generous layer over your entire epidermis.

How do sunless tanning products work?

Sunless tanning products, also called self-tanners, can give your skin a tanned look without exposing it to harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays. Sunless tanning products are commonly sold as creams, gels, lotions and sprays you apply to your skin. Professional spray-on tanning also is available at many salons, spas and tanning businesses.

The active ingredient in most sunless tanning products is dihydroxyacetone (DHA). When applied to the skin, DHA reacts with dead cells in the outermost layer of skin to temporarily darken the skin’s appearance. The coloring doesn’t wash off, but it gradually fades as the dead skin cells slough off — typically within a few days.

Most sunless tanning products don’t contain sunscreen. If you spend time outdoors, sunscreen remains essential.

What about sunless tanning pills?

Sunless tanning pills, which typically contain the color additive canthaxanthin, are unsafe. When taken in large amounts, canthaxanthin can turn your skin orange and cause hives. Sunless tanning pills can also cause liver damage and lead to the formation of crystals in the retina of the eye (canthaxanthin retinopathy).

What can you expect from sunless tanning products?

Sunless tanning products typically go on clear. It usually takes about an hour to see results. Full color typically appears within eight to 24 hours. People who have medium complexions without freckles often get the best results.

Is sunless tanning safe?

Topical sunless tanning products are considered safe alternatives to sunbathing, as long as they’re used as directed.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved DHA for external application to the skin.

When airbrush tanning, it’s recommended to protect your eyes, mouth and nose, and avoid inhaling the product. Be sure to wear goggles and nose plugs, and hold your breath while the spray is being applied.

Sunless tanning products can provide an even, natural-looking tan if they’re applied correctly and carefully. For best results, follow the package directions carefully.
In general:
•Exfoliate first. Before using a sunless tanning product, wash your skin with a wash cloth or sponge to remove excess dead skin cells. If you typically shave your legs, do so before you apply the sunless tanning product for an even application.
•Use a light touch. Apply the sunless tanning product evenly and lightly. Use sparingly on dry or thickened skin, such as over your ankles, knees and elbows. If necessary, ask someone to help you apply sunless tanner to hard-to-reach spots.
•Save the tops of your hands for last. After you apply the product to your face and body, wash your hands with soap and water to avoid coloring your palms. Be sure to remove any product from under your fingernails. Then use a cotton ball to apply the sunless tanner to the top of each hand.
•Take time to dry. Wait to dress until the sunless tanner dries completely.
Remember, most sunless tanning products don’t contain sunscreen. If you spend time outdoors, protect your skin with generous amounts of sunscreen

Sunshine! How Much is Too Much?

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The sun is a glowing radiation factory, giving off three categories of ultraviolet light: UVC, UVB and UVA. In the case of the UVC radiation, it is of no consequence to the skin because it is absorbed by the ozone layer before reaching the earth. However, the other two forms of ultraviolet radiation DO affect humans, mainly in the skin.

UVB rays are the ones that are responsible for the majority of our sunburns. To reduce the exposure to these rays, limit the time that you spend outside during the peak hours of ten a.m. and two p.m., especially in the summer months, and wear sun block with a high SPF rating when you cannot.

UVA rays can be a major cause of skin damage, although it was previously thought of as only a minor problem. This radiation is more dangerous because it penetrates deeper and remains at a more constant level of intensity, rather than varying like UVB rays do. Neither UVA nor UVB rays are able to penetrate glass. The damage caused by both can include premature wrinkling, skin cancer, collagen breakdown, and a lowered immune system.

Overly tanned skin will eventually take on a wrinkled, coarse texture resembling leather. Another potential skin issue is freckling, especially in fair skinned people, blondes, and redheads. Freckles can become larger with sun exposure and change to an age or liver spot. (These have nothing to do with age!)

It was once thought that tanning in a tanning bed was the safe alternative to sun exposure, but this is not the case. Even tanning beds can cause an unsafe build up of radiation in the skin and lead to the same skin issues as the sun does. If you insist on a tanned appearance, investigate sunless sprays, foams and lotions to protect your skin. Airbrush tanning is a safe alternative. Give us a call today to set up an appointment!