It’s May! Sunshine facts and tips for summer

Take a long, deep breath. Feel that? It’s MAY! We made it through the winter! Before summer hits us full-on, let’s talk a little bit about sun exposure.

There are some real dangers associated with too much time in the sun. Sunburn is the most common problem we face. It’s not just a minor annoyance, sun burn is actually the result of deep cellular damage to your skin cells. Sure, that burn might go away in a week or so, but over time, this cellular damage becomes noticeable in other ways. It can give the skin a “leathery” look. It’s more wrinkly, flaky, and discolored that healthy skin. It is also weakened and will bruise more easily, even though it appears to be thicker.

There are bigger worries than unattractive skin, however. 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. This can be life-threatening. So please take sun exposure seriously if you have shrugged it off in the past.

Staying out of direct sunlight is the best way to protect yourself, but chances are, you aren’t completely nocturnal, so you’re going to have to go outdoors! 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. UV Rays can damage your eyes as well.
  • 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.

Sunshine isn’t evil, though! In fact, 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, many foods are manufactured to be fortified with Vitamin D, but a little natural vitamin D outside is free and fun!

The sun makes you feel good. And then of course, there’s the way the sun makes you look. 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 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. It’s also much cheaper and quicker than you might think. Don’t be shy, give it a try this summer!

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What IS a tan, anyway?

It’s one of those things you probably wonder about for a minute and then never bother to think about again…  What IS a tan? How does your body change color like that?

Well, wonder no longer! There are a few different ways your body can tan naturally. The most obvious is, of course, from the sun! Light from the sun reaches earth in three forms: visible light, ultraviolet light, and infrared. That second type, ultraviolet light, is classified into three categories:

1. UVC, which doesn’t affect us because it’s filtered out by the atmosphere before it can get to our skin.

2. UVB, which typically causes damage in the form of sunburn.

3.  UVA or black light, which causes tanning.

The problems we associate with sun exposure, such as skin cancer, wrinkles, etc. are mostly caused by harmful UVB rays. Research suggests UVA might have an increasing hand in these things as well, however. Most of the sun’s UV radiation at sea level is of the UVA variety.
UVA can be reflected off of snow or water. Snow actually reflects roughly 90% of UV light, which is why you can get severe sun burns while skiing. Sand reflects up to 20% of UVB too, so at the beach, you’re getting more UV exposure than you would sitting in your backyard. It’s hitting you from above and below! There are certain surfaces that can absorb UV radiation rather than reflect it, such as certain types of glass.

Ultraviolet light in the sun stimulates the production of melanin in our skin. This pigment absorbs UV light, protecting cells from damage. 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. Over time, this protective pigment makes your skin look darker, hence: 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 on a daily basis.

It’s important to note that all UV rays are potentially dangerous. If you keep dropping water onto that sponge, eventually, it will soak through and damage the paper. That’s fine when we’re talking about metaphorical paper, but not so great when we’re talking about your skin! UV rays 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’s one more way that you can get naturally darker skin, however. That’s through DHA.  DHA is a non-toxic, organic compound that creates a chemical reaction within 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. 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.

What You Need To Know About Sun Exposure!

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What are the dangers of over-exposure?

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.

The biggest danger of sun exposure, 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 of sun exposure?

Sunshine isn’t all bad! 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.

Being active outdoors 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 chances are, you aren’t completely nocturnal, so you’re going to have 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. UV Rays can damage your eyes as well.

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 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 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.