Sun Exposure: Fact vs. Fiction

Unless you’re a vampire, you’ve been out and exposed to the sun before. Chances are, you’ve heard conflicting opinions on whether it’s good or bad to be outside while the sun is shining. Let’s break down the facts and fiction of sun exposure!

“The sun can cause skin cancer.”   – Fact

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. The radiation changes the make-up of your skin cells down to the very DNA. When too much damage occurs, it can sometimes cause skin cells to grow and reproduce rapidly and this can lead to cancerous tumors. 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. Both melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers can be invasive. As well as growing across the surface of the skin, tumors can sometimes grow down through the layers of skin. If the tumor grows through the wall of a blood or lymph vessel, cancer cells can break off and spread to other parts of the body. This is why skin cancer is usually easier to treat successfully when it is caught at an early stage.

“Catching some rays is GOOD for you!” – Fact

Let’s emphasize the “some” in that sentence. Sunshine isn’t all bad, but moderation and protection are the keys. If you don’t get enough sunshine in your life, you can potentially get what is known as SAD, or Seasonal Affective Disorder.  When exposed to less-than-usual sunlight (like during the winter months when sunlight is more scarce) your body produces more melatonin. Melatonin is the hormone that makes you feel sleepy.  Your brain also begins producing lower levels of serotonin — the neurotransmitter that affects mood, appetite, sleep, and sexual desire. Simply put, SAD can make you feel sad. Catching a few rays can lift your spirits.

Your body also absorbs vitamin D from the sun. The sun isn’t the only place you can get vitamin D, though. Many foods are manufactured to be fortified with Vitamin D.

But don’t spend all day in direct sunlight! Wear protective clothing as well as head and eye wear if you can, and definitely put on sunscreen before stepping outdoors.

“You won’t get sunburn if you wear sunscreen.”   – Fiction

Slapping on a little sunscreen in the morning is not a magic cure to protect you all day from sun exposure. 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. Sunburn is the most common problem associated with too much sun exposure. But it’s not just annoying and uncomfortable, sun burn is the result of deep cellular damage to your skin cells.  Over time, this damage becomes noticeable in other ways. It can give the skin a “leathery” look. It’s more wrinkly, flakey, and discolored that healthy skin. It is also weakened and will bruise more easily, even though it appears to be thicker. Sunscreen wears off, especially in water. So re-apply throughout the day!

“If you avoid the mid-day sun, you’ll be okay.” – Fiction

While it’s true that the UV rays that damage your skin are most powerful between 10am to 3pm, that doesn’t mean that you can’t get sunburn and skin damage earlier or later in the day. Even if you’re only going to be outside for an hour or two in the morning or just before sunset, wear that sunscreen!

“You can get the same skin damage from tanning beds that you can from the sun.” – Fact

Tanning beds work by producing the same UV Rays that the sun does. It is not a safe alternative to tanning outdoors and you need to take the same precautions when using a tanning bed that you would if you were laying around outside.

“Airbrush tanning is a safe alternative to tanning beds or laying out in the sun.” – Fact

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 to laying out in the sun or using a tanning bed.

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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.

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 History of Tanning

Sun tanning is popular in today’s culture, and tans are seen as beautiful, but that wasn’t always the case!

Centuries ago, having pale skin was a status symbol. Lower class workers, such as gardeners and carpenters, had darker skin because they were outdoors all day, so being tan was something looked down upon. Women went to great lengths to avoid the sun! Arsenic was even tragically used in the 10th century to whiten the skin. Later on, upper class women wore hats and rarely left the houe without a parasol. They also caked their faces in heavy white powder to appear pale.

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The tanning trend started to take off in the 1920’s. Led by the likes of Josephine Baker and Coco Chanel, soon having caramel colored skin was all the rage. In the 1930’s, movies began using color film, which further propelled the tanning movement! Starlets were seen basking in the sun at Hollywood swimming pools, and “sun therapy” was being prescribed to cure common illnesses! Swim suits became skimpier and skimpier, and by the 1950’s, bikinis became the hottest fashion trend.

It was a complete turn-around. Having a tan was now a symbol of wealth and leisure! People were using silver UV reflectors to get darker tans. In 1953, Coppertone was put on the map with the iconic symbol of the blonde girl and her dog tugging at her bikini bottoms to reveal her tan lines. The tag lines was “Don’t Be A Pale Face” and “Tan Don’t Burn!” In the 1960’s, people all over the country were using cocoa butter and baby oil as tanning lotions. The surfing lifestyle was all the rage and California was the place to be! “The Endless Summer” and The Beach Boys solidified this!

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By the 70’s, people wanted to have tans year-round.  In 1975, the tanning booth was created to give you that “just got back from vacation” look all year long. Mattel introduced Malibu Barbie the same year. George Hamilton became the first tan Dracula in “Love At First Bite” shortly after! Sunscreen with SPF 15 came out and more people than ever could enjoy themselves in the sun. Movies like “10” and shows like “Baywatch” kept the tan craze alive and well for decades to come. Higher SPF sunscreens were invented, as well as water-proof varieties and spray-on’s. Tan enhancers such as Maxgel and Sizzle became popular with both indoor and outdoor tanners. Tanning became big business – more and more tanning salons opened, offering customers access to tanning booths.

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Eventually, we began studying and learning more about the effects of the sun. It was discovered that too much sun exposure causes serious cellular damage, and is a leading cause of skin cancer. People are now urged to use higher SPF sunscreen and avoid too much time in mid-day sun. Sunless tanning became a safer alternative to roasting at the beach all day or hopping into tanning beds which saturate you with potentially harmful UV rays. There are bronzers you can apply yourself at home and spray tan booths that will spray color at you! Sunless tanning has come a long way from the orange dye that they used to use. The most effective and natural looking sunless tan available today is airbrush tanning. A technician will apply a solution to your skin evenly and make sure you look naturally tan. It’s hard to tell the difference between an airbrush tan and a tan you get from being outdoors. Airbrush tanning solutions contain a compound called DHA which naturally stimulates your skin to produce color, but does not permiate your deep skin tissues the way UV rays do. An airbrush tan will last approximately 7-10 days. It’s FDA approved and currently the safest alternative to baking your body in the sun. It won’t cause wrinkles and leathery skin the way too much sun can, too!

Being tan is still considered beautiful and most of the models you see in magazines and actors you catch on TV are perfectly bronzed. Tan skin hides imperfections and makes you look younger and healthier. Tanning isn’t going anywhere!

 

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.

 

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