An Introduction to Sunless Tanning
When the weather starts to warm up and the days get longer, we are all drawn outdoors to enjoy the sun. Many will recall seemingly endless hours outdoors, soaking up the sun's rays without a care. Unfortunately, sunbathing isn't as carefree an activity as it used to be. These days, there's more to worry about, such as premature aging, scarring and blemishes, or even skin cancer.
Some people desire quicker results than what natural sunlight offers. For such people, sunless tanning is the route to take. Sunless tanning refers to the process of attaining a suntan by sunless means, as the term implies. Sunless tanning might take the form of lotions, sprays, powders, pills, tanning beds, or tanning booths. The efficacy and results of these methods vary. To understand how sunless tanners work, it's necessary to first know what a suntan is, however.
The sun emits three types of ultraviolet or UV radiation: UVC, at 100 to 290 nm, UVB, at 290 to 320 nm, and UVA, at 320 to 400 nm. It is the UVA and UVB rays that are the most harmful to our skin. UVB is easier to protect against than UVA, but both cause very real damage.
The body has its own defenses against UV radiation. Our skin protects us from UV damage by producing melanin, a substance that absorbs the harmful rays in order to protect our DNA. When the body produces melanin, our skin darkens, taking on a darker appearance. This is how we tan.
Most sunless tanning aids are harmless, but not all will prevent the skin damage caused by the sun and UV radiation. Furthermore, methods such as tanning beds and tanning pills are controversial and thought to be unsafe. The FDA, in fact, has not approved most tanning pills.
Staying out of the sun does not have to mean staying pale at all. There are numerous ways to get a tan without risking our health. The cost of sunless tanning options ranges from just a few dollars for cream, to $100 or more for a few sessions in a tanning salon. In an ideal situation, the result will be a great looking without anyone knowing the difference!