In today’s culture, a glowing tan is the picture of summer fun. People who escape the dreary, cold, winter weather of the north to a tropical locale are expected to show off sun-darkened skin. Magazines and commercials tell us that being tan is requirement for looking one’s best in a swimsuit. As a result, many men and women resort to the use of tanning sprays and tanning beds to achieve idealized bronze exteriors.
American and Western European’s cultures did not always feel this way. In previous centuries, throughout Europe and America, sun-darkened skin was a disfigurement common to the lowly, working, classes. Sun-tanned skin was a sign of toil and poverty. Wealthier counterparts spent their days indoors. To maintain their fairer complexions, they shaded themselves with parasols, and used cosmetics, many of which contained harmful substances like mercury and lead, to whiten their skin1.
This attitude shifted gradually during the industrial age when people in working classes started to flock to industrialized regions for jobs in factories and mines. These vocations would keep them indoors from dawn to dusk in these smoke shrouded cities. Soon the lighter complexion of those of European descent was viewed as a sign of toil. Only the wealthy had the leisurely lifestyle to allow them to spend time in the open sun.
This positive attitude toward spending time in sunlight was solidified when scientist Theodore Palm in 1890 discovered the benefits of sunlight on bone development. Niels Finsen was bestowed the Nobel prize for medicine for his use of phototherapy to treat skin ulcers caused by lupus vulgaris. Theodore
Palm and Niels Finsen discovered, there are positive effects to spending some time in the sun. Sunlight provides us with natural vitamin D, which helps stabilize moods, boost bone strength, and help to prevent colon and ovarian cancers2. Sunlight triggers the brain to increase its release of the hormone melatonin which helps a person find more restful sleep. Today, these benefits must be weighed against the health risks also associated with sun exposure.
In the 1920’s, the fashion world became enthralled with tanning when iconic fashion designer Coco Chanel was photographed with her sun-darkened skin. Tanning became an international past time, people from of all walks of life spent time in the sun3. In recent years, health experts have confirmed serious health risks associated with sun exposure. Despite publicized health risks, in America today, intentionally sun-tanned skin is often associated with beauty and health.
Current evidence confirms the importance of being vigilant about the amount of sunlight exposure received by children and adults. Moderation is the key. Sunlight exposure, despite some benefits, holds inherent health risks and results in skin damage. For instance, since tanning became a regular pastime for modern, western cultures, occurrences of skin cancer have increased exponentially. Cases of non-melanoma skin cancers have increased by seventy-seven percent from 1994 to 2014 alone4.
The predominant cause of skin cancer are the sun’s ultraviolet A and B (UVA and UVB) rays. Both UVA and UVB have proven adverse effects on the health of skin. UV radiation damages collagen produces and reduces the skin’s elasticity. This plays a direct role in causing the skin to prematurely age and form wrinkles. How much a person’s skin visibly ages can be directly correlated to the amount of time that they spent unprotected in the sun5.
UVA radiation penetrates deeper into the skin surface and directly harms the DNA of the dermis layer of skin. This harms the elastin and collagen growth of the skin, which causes premature wrinkling. The UVA ray’s directly damages the DNA of the skin cells in the dermis layer of the skin. This DNA damage causes the skin to darken in complexion, resulting in a tan. The damage to the skin cells’ DNA can create opportunity for mutations like skin cancer6.
UVB rays are not as prevalent as UVA, which are 80 percent more present in the Earth’s atmosphere. UVB do not penetrate the skin’s surface any deeper than the epidermis layer of the skin. They play a contributory role in both skin aging and the development of skin cancer. UVB rays are the main cause of sunburn.
What You Can do to Protect Yourself and Your Loved Ones from Harmful Ultraviolet Rays
Shunning the sunlight completely is neither what a viable or healthy option. The key for someone to protecting themselves and their loved ones from harmful UV rays is simple mindfulness. Eclipse Rx has a comprehensive list of sun smart tips and advice from a board-certified dermatologist to help avoid the adverse effects of the sun. However here are a few quick tips:
- Use Sunscreen with a minimum of a SPF 30
- Seek Shade during Peak Hours of the Sun
- Avoid Baby Oils
- Use Products with UV Protection
- Wear the BurŪV Fitness Tracker for Your Skin
BurŪV helps the wearer stay safe from the sun’s harmful UV rays, by giving real time feed time of their exposure. While considering the wearer’s unique skin type/vulnerability, BurŪV reminds the wearer to reapply more sunscreen or seek shade. This helps the BurŪV wearer stay worry free making it much easier to Luv Life Outdoors and avoid any painful side effects of sun overexposure…Better Skin for a Better Life®
Find Out What the UV Index is in Your Area
The EPA sponsors a helpful tool below that can provide your with information about the UV index in your area. Enter your location information below (i.e., zip code, city, state), then click the green search icon. You will be redirected to the EPA’s web site where the UV index information for your area will be displayed for you.
Use UV index information to help you plan for how much sun protection you need based on your skin type. If you don’t know what your skin type is, click here to learn more.