Health & Wellness Articles

Sun Protection Tips for Healthy Skin

Get the Facts about Tanning, Sunscreen, and More

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The Dangers of Tanning Salons
Promoters of indoor tanning salons claim that their “artificial sun” is safer than natural tanning because they mainly use UVA (non-burning) rays and limit the amount of exposure with timers. But don't believe the literature that tanning salons offer. Indoor tanning is just as bad for your skin as sunlight, according to the AAD. Some studies have shown that tanning bed users often exceed their time limits, exposing themselves to excessive radiation.

A recent Dartmouth Medical School study of nearly 900 skin cancer patients found that using any tanning device increased the risk of squamous cell carcinoma (a type of skin cancer) by 150 percent and the risk of basal cell carcinoma (another form of skin cancer) by 50 percent. The AAD, Food & Drug Administration, American Medical Association and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention all strongly advise against all forms of indoor tanning.

Protecting Your Skin: Sunscreen Basics
Research suggests that the key to avoiding sunburn and sun damage is using sunscreen correctly. Sunscreens are chemical barriers that help prevent UV radiation from reaching the skin. Many sunscreens combine several different chemical ingredients in order to provide broad-spectrum protection against both UVA and UVB rays. Look for PABA derivatives, salicylates and/or cinnamates for UVB protection, and benzophenones, avobenzone (also known as Parsol 1789), Mexoryl, titanium dioxide and/or zinc oxide for protection against the rest of the UV spectrum.

Most sunscreens with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 15 or higher do an excellent job of protection. But what does this number mean? If it takes your skin 20 minutes to burn without protection, for example, an SPF 15 sunscreen theoretically protects you 15 times longer, or about five hours. But don’t expect your sunscreen to protect you for this long, as most only offer protection for a maximum of two hours. Even if your skin isn't turning red, it can still be damaged, so re-apply your sunscreen often. Here are some additional sunscreen tips:
  • Apply sunscreen 30 minutes prior to sun exposure in order for the ingredients to fully protect the skin.
  • Apply enough sunscreen to fill a shot glass (about one ounce) in order to thoroughly cover all of your exposed skin. During a long day outdoors, one person should use about one half of a full eight-ounce bottle of sunscreen.
  • Reapply sunscreen every one to two hours, after swimming, and after heavy sweating—even if labeled "waterproof."
Other Ways to Protect Your Skin
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About The Author

Leanne Beattie Leanne Beattie
A freelance writer, marketing consultant and life coach, Leanne often writes about health and nutrition. See all of Leanne's articles.

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  • Edit: with a 0.33% yearly diagnosis rate, and an 80 year life-span, each individual has anywhere from a 20-27% chance of being diagnosed with skin cancer over their life-time, so the article/reference is correct on that number.
    hmm, now what's the rate for malignant vs. benign types, I wonder. - 5/2/2015 4:15:41 PM
  • I feel this article is a bit misleading numbers wise. Though I find most cancer related topics like taking numbers out of context anyway. So, numbers-wise I feel there needs to be some perspective added:
    "Over a million" diagnosis each year is scary, but that "over a million" is actually impacting less than 0.33% of the US population, to impact 1% of the US population would need "over 3 million" diagnosis. Of the yearly cancer related deaths, skin cancer accounts for less than 2% of cancer related deaths in the USA.

    So based on the numbers, I'd rather enjoy my anti-oxidant meals, keep my skin well hydrated, and not apply random chemical cocktails to my skin (including most moisturizing creams, sun-screens, and makeup). I would suspect that applying chemicals to the skin could do just as much cellular damage over time as being unprotected in the sun.

    That's just my two cents (or five cents since Canada doesn't have pennies any more)... lol - 5/2/2015 4:05:20 PM
  • I quit trying to get a tan at least 20 years ago. Only makes my skin look old.

    and I still was diagnosed with melanoma a few years ago. Scary stuff & the nuclear medicine part was VERY painful. Now I'm down to just annual visits & still all clear. YAY!

    If you've never been to a dermatologist for a full body scan, please go. Melanoma has an extremely high survival rate when caught early, but spreads very quickly it it's not. - 5/2/2015 7:35:17 AM
  • Is it me


    is the girl in the picture

    giving us the finger

    LoL !

    GREAT article

    Am going to send it to my
    fair-skinned, red-headed son
    so he will use the shot-glass/1 oz
    amouint necessary
    No wonder he ALWAYS gets burned
    although he says he uses lotion


    - 10/2/2013 12:16:07 AM
  • i have light brown colored skin and it's also sensitive. I'm allergic to sunscreen. I got a sunburn last summer and possibly 2 times in the summer and a couple times in the winter from sun reflection off the snow. I was hoping for a more natural defense against the sun.
    - 2/21/2013 5:05:12 PM
  • I used to consider tanning a "hobby". I still look wistfully at the tanning salons when I go by. I am now almost 49 years old though, and see the results in the mirror every day. - 10/17/2012 11:13:18 AM
  • To HEALTHYJEN11 and anyone else allergic to sunscreens -

    Google sunscreen clothing and you'll come up with reputable clothing companies. The one I use is fabulous! Hats, gloves, even sleeves only to use when driving, skirts, swimwear - the list is endless. - 10/17/2012 9:34:59 AM
  • warning tanners against the danger of UV rays is like warning smokers against the danger of their tobacco and other poisons. we know the risks. however, I CAN stop tanning whenever I want, it isn't an addiction. and it's a LOT cheaper to visit the cancer beds than to buy the cancer sticks. and while smokers complain of having to freeze in the winters for their vice, I'm toasty warm and relaxed all year round. - 10/17/2012 12:24:25 AM
  • Because of my ancestry I have never felt compelled to be a huge fan of sunscreen. I like to get some sun but generally wear long sleeves even in summer and tend to wear jeans all year long unless I am exercising. - 10/10/2012 8:29:03 PM
  • Well ....Dr' Oz has come around( because of new research)... and NOW recomends the tanning beds that use the UVB....saying no more that 5 minutes each time for health - 7/7/2012 7:26:55 PM
  • I burn instantly in the sun, but am allergic to sunscreen... what's a girl to do??? - 6/23/2012 8:56:14 PM
  • 'Scuse me while I have a chuckle up here at 60 degrees northern latitude. With only 5 hours of sunlight on December 26, and the sun inching along a little hop over the southern horizon, UV damage to my skin isn't one of my big worries today! - 12/26/2011 12:05:44 PM
  • Here is a report to help find non-toxic sunscreens.
    2011sunscreen/ - 6/28/2011 12:55:06 PM

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