Sunless Tanning as an Alternative to UV Rays

Wear sunscreen. That's something all of us have heard from our mothers, time and time again. Mother is right this time. While we cannot live without the sun, too much of it can be damaging to our skin. Skin cancer and other skin conditions have been caused by prolonged exposure to UV rays. However, millions of people are looking for the perfect glow that the sun can give us. Enter sunless tanning products.

To understand why we are at risk from the sun, let's explain how sun tanning works. Tanning is the skin's reaction to ultraviolet radiation, or as we have come to known UV rays. When skin is exposed to UV rays, cells called melanocytes produce the brown pigment melanin, which darkens the cells of the epidermis, or the outer layer of skin. While many crave this color as a cosmetic treat, the darkening of the skin is actually our body's defense of further UV damage. This means that the body knows we should be out of the sun! (And why it's better for our body to start tanning sunless!)

So why is tanning so bad for us? UV rays actually damage the DNA of the skin cells. This sends a signal to the body's repairing enzymes to repair the damage. But, the damage isn't always repaired, and that is what leaves us susceptible to skin cancer. Additionally, prolonged exposure to the sun creates aging mechanisms - like wrinkles, sagging skin and spotting. And although literally on the surface, sunburns seem like the real culprit, tanning can in fact produce genetic defects that may cause skin cancer.

Some people think that tanning at home with a tanning bed, or getting a membership at a tanning salon is a safe alternative. It's not. Tanning salon owners claim tanning beds are safer than outdoor tanning because they use UVA rays-a "less harmful" ultra-violet ray, as well as offer "controlled" UV exposure. However, it is a fact that UVA rays are a carcinogen. Also, it should be noted that tanning salons and staff do exceed "safe" UV limits by allowing people to tan longer, or even allowing people whose skin otherwise shouldn't be in the sun to tan. That said, tanning sunless in a tanning bed does not remove the hazards of being in the sun.

So, while there may be no such thing as a totally safe suntan, there are safe alternatives by way of sunless tanning. Sunless tanners come in many forms, such as lotions, sprays, pills and gels. So, you can get the glow of the sun, without the sun's risk!

Chris a former fitness competitor and personal trainer. He is a regular contributor to The Sunless Tanning Resource Center. Get information on Sunless Tanning products and their use.