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Skin Tanning: Health Effects and Cultural Perspectives

Tanning is the process through which the skin colour of a pale-skinned person becomes darkened or brown. Traditionally, it occurs through exposure to the ultra-violet rays of the sun. In fact, skin experts believe that tanning is the skin’s self-protecting mechanism to minimise damage by harmful UV rays.

Tanning is usually promoted as a fashionable process that boosts self-esteem. Thus, many people seek to darken their skin through deliberate sun exposure. However, sun tanning can have various health implications. In this article, we will examine various issues concerning tanning, including how it is perceived in different cultures, its benefits and adverse effects.

Skin Tanning: Health Effects and Cultural Perspectives

Cultural Perspectives on Skin Tanning

The views people have about tanning, in various parts of the world, have evolved over time and they are still changing. In the 1920s, Coco Chanel, a popular French designer went for a long holiday trip and returned home with darker skin. This event triggered the beginning of the modern view of tanning as a mark of luxury, comfort, travelling, and accomplishment.

However, different cultures still have divergent views on the topic. For instance, in the U.S. and Europe, a tanned face is regarded as more attractive than natural complexion. That is why over 1 million Americans now go to lie on tanning beds daily to get this coveted complexion. Conversely, in India and China, the society puts a premium on light complexioned skin because of the white skin of many role models and celebrities. So there is a strong demand in these Asian countries for skin lightening products.

On the other hand, Australia, a nation endowed with many scenic beaches that can be used for natural sun tanning, now has many people demanding for indoor tanning sessions on dangerous tanning beds. Unfortunately, this has made Australia, the country with the highest occurrence of melanoma on earth. This has led to a ban on the operation of tanning salons.

Does Tanning Have any Positive Effects?

Tanning offers a certain amount of protection from sunburn. This is the most important health benefit of tanning and it is usually part of most promotional messages about skin tanning. A well-publicised study performed by Cripps in the early 1980s revealed that tanned skin provided sun protection factors of between 2 to 3 points for people who had Fitzpatrick skin types. Other studies have also confirmed this positive health effect of tanning.

Another positive effect of tanning is the production of vitamin D, which is commonly called the sunshine vitamin. Exposure of the skin to the sun’s UV rays (without sunscreen) causes the skin to synthesise vitamin D. However, since excessive exposure to UV rays can be injurious to health. It is quite important for you to protect your skin adequately during the process of tanning.

Harmful Effects of Tanning

Repeated exposure of the skin to ultra-violet rays has adverse effects on the skin. Some of the well documented negative effects of tanning include increased of developing skin cancer, faster ageing and development of wrinkles, and sunburn. Although the skin produces a dark substance known as melanin to reduce the amount of sunburn on the skin, the skin cannot effectively protect itself against excessive repeated exposure.

It is also important to note that the skin reacts differently to two types of UV rays – A and B. The type A UV rays are more prevalent in summer and they cause the skin to age faster and produce more visible wrinkles while the type B UV rays are available throughout the year. The type B UV rays tend to cause the skin to burn and they increase the risk of having skin cancer. Nonetheless, the amount of risk involved in tanning is determined by the intensity of the UV rays and the frequency of exposure to them.

Fake Tanning and Its Benefits

From the discussion so far, you can easily understand that tanning is a dangerous process that can have adverse effects on your skin. However, there is still an easier and safer way to achieve a darker complexion without the health risks associated with sun tanning or using indoor tanning equipment. This process is known as fake tanning.

Basically, fake tanning is the process of darkening your skin by applying creams to your skin. These creams have a substance called dihydroxyacetone (DHA) – a natural ingredient, which has been proven to be safe for use on human skin. Fake tanning enables you to acquire a darker complexion that will boost your self esteem. It eliminates the need for unnecessary and harmful exposure to the sun for long hours. With fake tanning, you can have a great skin colour without melanoma, cancer, or wrinkles, at a relatively low cost.

Tanning the skin, through the conventional method of sun exposure or with modern indoor tanning beds and equipment, has very serious health risks. To achieve your desire for a dark complexion, you should explore the use of fake tanning which is simpler, healthier and more cost effective.

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