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So you like having a tan?

Updated: May 15, 2023

Girl tanning on a beach
so you like having a tan?

We all love the look of golden tanned skin but regular tanning comes at a cost to your skin health, whereas your tan will fade, the damage to your skin cells underneath remains...

And can result in serious consequences over time.

It is therefore advisable to strike the right balance

What exactly is a tan?

UV radiation is divided into 3 spectra based on differing biological effects:


In medical aesthetics we focus on UVA & UVB

While UVB rays are absorbed superficially in the skin causing heat, burn & a tan,

UVA rays penetrate much lower down causing more severe damage particularly to our fibroblast cells that are responsible for producing collagen. Damage will cause premature ageing, dull, uneven skin tone & hyperpigmentation.

A tan is the body's trauma response at protecting itself against UV assault, cellular damage, inflammation & stress response ; sunburn, reddening, peeling and even tanning of the skin is a clear indication of sun damage.

When sunbathing on holiday, as the rays hit our skin our body's defence system stimulates our melanin [ our pigment cells] to darken [ a tan], but unfortunately this exposure can also

cause our melanin cells to form ' clusters' causing at the very least pigmentation , discoloration skin allergies such as redness & irritation and at the very worse for some , Melanoma

[ skin cancer]

The best form of protection is to use a physical filter sunscreen 365 days of the year,

reapplication every 2 hours is also important , especially if swimming on holiday or if you work outdoors.

A physical sunscreen will contain zinc oxide a breathable mineral filter that reflects away both UVA & UVB rays. Check the ingredients on your sunscreen label.

Who is at risk?

Skin cancer does not discriminate when it comes to age, gender or skin type.

All skin types can be damaged by Ultraviolet radiation [ UVR] and we are all at risk of developing the disease. However those at risk typically fall into one or more of these categories:

  • Those with fairer skin that burn more easily

  • Sunbed users and active tan seekers are at greater risk due to intermittent , intense and cumulative damage.

  • Anyone with a history of sunburn, particularly in childhood and/or adolescence

  • Outdoor workers that spend prolonged periods of time outdoors

  • Sports enthusiasts who enjoy extended, regular time outdoors without protection

  • Mature skin which has accumulated UV damage over longer periods of time

  • Those with more than 100 moles over the entire body

  • A family history of skin cancer or melanoma.

Prevention is certainly better than cure, and the good news is that 86% of all skin cancers are avoidable....

So do you think a tan is still sexy?

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