Winter is here and the sun’s presence wanes. Each day is filled with just a bit more darkness than the day before leaving our skin to hide behind long pants and sleeves. For some of us this means our summer tan wanes as well. Having a healthy, sun-kissed glow at the wedding is on the list of many brides. Others are happy with their natural skin color any time of the year. Either way, getting a tan is not as simple as it used to be with skin cancer rates on the rise and an array of chemically-based sunless tanners on the market. Before you run off to your local tanning salon, read up on the health risks associated with getting that artificial glow. Below I’ve outlined the most popular tanning options and the risks involved with each.
What it is: Referred to sunless or self-tanners, tanning lotions can be found in any local drugstore and in major department stores. Self tanning lotions are just that-a lotion that you apply topically to darken the color of your skin. The quality of the product varies largely brand to brand as does cost.
How they work: Most of these lotions contain a chemical called dihydroxyacetone (DHA) which interacts with the dead skin cells on the surface of the skin, changing the color.
Benefits: This is a low-cost, DIY option. Getting a natural looking tan takes some practice, but for the bride on a budget this is a good choice.
Risks: Applying self-tanning lotion requires some skill. By using this method, you run the risk of having an uneven tan or ending up with a streaking effect. Also, be sure to test each product in an inconspicuous place to check the color-many of these products will leave your skin looking orange. The FDA claims that DHA is safe to use on your skin.
What it is: Most of you are familiar with the concept of tanning beds as they have been around for decades now. But in case you don’t know, a tanning bed is a device you lie down on containing many fluorescent light bulbs that are emitting UVA rays in order to produce a tan.
How they work: Tanning beds have a higher UVA to UVB ratio than the sun. UVA rays penetrate deeper into the skin producing a darker tan.
Benefits: It’s a fast, relatively inexpensive way to get that summertime glow.
Risks: There are many risks associated with the use of tanning beds. The World Health Organization does not support the use of tanning beds for cosmetic reasons. According to their website, the risks associated with the use of artifical UV rays are skin cancer, skin aging (wrinkles), and eye damage.
What it is: Spray tans must be applied at a salon where you’ll enter a booth and be sprayed with a sunless tanning mist.
How it works: Spray tans work the same as self-tanning lotions-they contain DHA which changes the color of the surface of your skin.
Benefits: The fastest and easiest method of sunless tanning available-although the most expensive. No risk of streaking or uneven tanning associated with lotions.
Risks: While the FDA says DHA is safe to use topically, they have stated risks associated with DHA being used internally. Having this chemical sprayed onto your skin from all directions may put you at risk for DHA exposure in your eyes, lips and other mucous membranes as well as possibly inhaling the substance.
Good Ol’ Fashioned Sunshine
What it is: That big yellow ball in the sky.
How it works: UVA and UVB rays penetrate the skin, producing more melanin which in turn darkens the skin.
Benefits: Sunbathing is free! Also, you’ll get your dose of vitamin D which is important-especially if you are deficient. Vitamin D deficiency is associated with a whole host of chronic diseases. You must spend about 10 minutes in the sun each day without sunscreen to get the recommended daily allowance of vitamin D.
Risks: There are many risks associated with sun tanning. Particularly when tanning takes place with no SPF protection. Overexposure to the sun can lead to skin cancer and wrinkles. Use your best judgment and cover up before overexposure occurs.
It’s important to feel comfortable in the skin you’re in-especially on your wedding day. Be sure to take it slow if you decide to use any artifical tanning products to avoid any drastic changes. While you may want to increase your glow, you still want to look like you.