Sun Tan

Do You Know Why Sun Tan Occurs and How You Can Prevent It Effectively?

Spending a lot of time outdoors with friends is fun until you realise that your skin has turned into two shades, isn’t it? Do you know why it occurs? Does it worry you a lot? 

It is the suntan that is occurring on your skin. Irrespective of the season, the ultraviolet rays will damage your skin throughout the year. “The glow of a tan is the very opposite of healthy.”

If you want to know what sun tan is, why and how it happens, which skin is more prone to it, and the effective methods to prevent sun tan, please spare some of your minutes to read this blog. Let’s dig in to learn more. 

What Is Sun Tan or Tanning?

The process by which the skin’s pigment, melanin, increases after exposure to the sun, producing a darkening effect, is known as tanning or sun tanning. One or two shades of variation in your complexion are considered tanning. 

When your skin is exposed to harsh sunlight, it triggers the melanin-producing cells known as melanocytes to produce more melanin. It is a natural way by which the body protects your skin from the damage caused by the sun. Melanin absorbs the radiation from ultraviolet rays. The more your skin is exposed to UV rays, the more pigmentation there will be and the darker the tan will be. 

The tanning can happen not only outdoors but also from some artificial sources, such as tanning lamps found in indoor tanning beds.

Some people deliberately tan their skin by exposing it to the sun by engaging in the passive recreational activity of sunbathing. 

Some also use chemicals to produce a tanning effect without exposure to ultraviolet radiation; this is known as sunless tanning. 

Indoor tanning is the process in which you are exposed to UV-A light through the use of tanning beds. The tanning bed also exposes you to some UV-B rays. 

A base tan is a process of tanning in saloons that will make you more prone to sunburn when you go outside.

What Are the Causes of Your Tanning and Why Should I Protect My Skin From UV Rays?

The sunlight that reaches the earth is a mixture of both visible and invisible radiation. Some rays are harmless. The ultraviolet (UV) rays can cause problems for your skin. The UV rays help your body to make vitamin D, but too much exposure can damage your skin. When people are exposed to UV rays for about 5 to 15 minutes two-three times a week, it will help them to get vitamin D. 

The UV rays are of three types. They are

  • UV-A( long wave)
  • UV-B(medium wave)
  • UV-C(short wave)

Although UV-C waves are the most harmful radiation, only UV-A and UV-B reach the surface of the earth. Most of the UV-C radiation is filtered by the ozone layer, and it fails to reach the earth. About 99% of the UV-A radiation reaches the earth. UV-A rays travel more deeply into your skin than UV-B rays. 

UV-A Exposure

  • The UV-A rays are dangerous as they can penetrate deep into the skin causing cellular damage.
  • These rays will penetrate the deep layer of your skin causing cellular damage. The release of melanin from the melanocytes makes the skin brown or darkened in colour. 
  • They break down the natural collagen reserve in the skin resulting in premature ageing. 
  • Chronic exposure results in damage to the DNA leading to skin cancer.

UV-B Exposure

  • These rays are harmful as they can burn the upper layer of the skin. 
  • The exposure to UV-B radiations increases during summer and decreases during winter as the earth’s ozone layer blocks the majority of the rays depending on the weather. 
  • The UV-B rays don’t trigger melanocytes. It will damage the DNA that boosts the production of melanin.
  • Exposure to UV-B rays causes sunburns, moles, skin ageing, skin tanning and some other types of cancer.
  • They are responsible for the production of vitamin D in the skin.

Which Areas of the Body Are Prone to Tanning?

The areas that are prone to tan are

  • Face
  • Arms 
  • Hands
  • Legs
  • Feet
  • Back
  • Neck 

What Are the Different Types of Skin and How do They React to Tan?

Type of SkinSkin’s Reaction to Exposure to SunThe Level of Tanning
Pale whiteAlways burnNever tans
White to light beigeEasily burnMinimal tanning
BeigeModerately burnTan to light brown
Light brownMinimal burnTans to moderate brown
Moderate brownRare burnsTans to dark brown
Dark brown to blackNever burns Profuse tanning

The moderate brown skin, when tanned to dark brown, may require a tan removal treatment in the future. 

What Signs Point to a Tan?

The Fitzpatrick scale is the standard scale used all over the world to describe your skin type. It estimates the responses of different types of skin to ultraviolet radiation.

Indian skin types come under 4 or 5. Fitzpatrick skin type 4 burns minimally and tans easily, while the 5th skin type burns rarely and tans easily. 

Tanning Facts and Risks

  • The skin damage starts when you get tanned for the very first time. The damage increases when you get tanned each time creating more genetic mutations and greater risk.
  • Indoor tanning is more dangerous as they raise the risk of skin cancer.
  • The process of tanning damages all types of the skin causing damage to the DNA and resulting in premature ageing and skin cancer. 

How to Prevent Sun Tanning?

  • You should cover yourself while going out during the daytime. Wearing a long-sleeved shirt and long pants and skirts are preferable. Clothes that are made from tightly woven clothes offer the best protection.
  • Wear a wide-brimmed hat made out of tightly woven fabric like canvas while going out.
  • Avoid going outdoors from 10 am to 2 pm which is the peak hours of sunlight.
  • Apply sunscreen before going out of the room during the daytime. When you use sunscreen with SPF15 or more, it should be a broad-spectrum sunscreen which can protect you from both UV-A and UV-B rays. It is better to use sunscreen with SPF30 or more if you have very light skin. Sunscreens should be applied 20 to 30 minutes before going out and reapply at least every 2 hours. 
  • Always stay hydrated by drinking at least 15 to 20 glasses of water a day during the summer season to get hydrated. 
  • Fibre-rich foods like green fruits and vegetables should be consumed.
  • Apply the protection cream every 20 minutes if you are a person who regularly spends time in the sun or swimming pool in often.
  • Always choose sun-friendly cosmetics. Choose mineral-based ingredients containing creams. Moisturizers should be applied during the daytime.
  • It is good to wash your face twice daily.
  • Wear a sun protection glass that can block both UV-A and UV-B rays while going out during day time. Wrap-around sunglass works the best as they can block UV rays from sneaking in from the side.
  • If you want a golden glow, then consider sunless tanning products. A variety of options are available that can give you a bronzed look but you always need sun protection.

What Are the Health Risks of Tanning?

Some of the health problems that arise from skin tanning are

  • Premature ageing of the skin

Tanning makes the skin look thickened, leathery, and wrinkled. The appearance of dark spots on your skin and loss of elasticity of the skin. The more you are exposed to the sun, the earlier your skin will become age. 

  • Skin cancers and melanoma

As UV light damages the DNA of your skin cells, it will also interfere with the body’s ability to fight cancer.

  • Actinic keratosis

In the areas that are often exposed to the sun, such as the face, scalp, back of the hands or chest, a thick, scaly patch appears. It is known as actinic keratosis. Eventually, it becomes cancerous. 

  • Eye damage

Sun tan eventually causes cataracts and photokeratitis. 

  • Weakens the immune system

Overexposure to sunlight causes tanning and weakens your body’s immune system. It will increase your body’s sensitivity to sunlight, decrease the effects of vaccines, and also give you some sensitivity and reactions to certain medicaments.

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Final Word

A sun tan occurs after long and continuous exposure to sunlight. Harmful UV radiation is responsible for causing sun tan. Though sun tan is reversible, in some cases, it is very harmful to your skin, which will lead to melanoma and skin cancer. An indoor and outdoor suntan can cause the same effect. Artificially tanning your skin also affects your skin adversely. It can be any type of skin, but the effect of tanning is equal. Following proper preventive measures against suntan is the best remedy to protect your skin and, ultimately, yourself. You can post your comments in the comment box.


1.Is Skin Tanning Permanent?

No, skin tanning is not permanent. The skin itself heals by exfoliating the cells over time, gradually flaking off the old skin and retaining its natural colour.

2. Why Do I Tan So Easily?

If you are a person with a darker skin tone, then you will get tanned easily. When your skin is exposed to sunlight, the melanin gets surrounded in order to protect the skin from the harmful effects of sunlight and it gets darker.

3. Can a tan be healthy?

Some people think that tanning makes your skin glow. But the facts are not correct. When you get tanned either outdoors or indoors with a tanning bed, it is not healthy at all. You are being exposed to harmful radiation, which will further lead to melanoma and cancer. 

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