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Is It Always Harmful to Get Tan? 6 Myths About Tanning

people on sand

June seemed hot, and this is only the beginning of summer. Many of us have already had enough sunbathing and swimming.

However, are you sure you really know everything about tanning?

Do you not believe myths that can harm your health?

Let’s check!

Myth 1. A light tan will definitely not hurt

Truth: There is no safe dose of tanning. Any tan is a reaction of our skin to damage. Ultraviolet, when it penetrates deep into the skin, damages DNA and can cause mutations. If mutations occur frequently, it can cause serious illness.

Why do we sunbathe at all?

Our body produces the pigment melanin, the main function of which is to protect the deep layers of the skin from damage.

When the skin is damaged by sunlight, it forces the body to produce even more pigment for protection. As a result, the skin changes color. It becomes brownish.

Tanning is a sign that you have received too much ultraviolet light.

So what, I got a little tan, how is it bad?

Everyone has their own dose of ultraviolet light, which can be adjusted by the immune system. But to define it in practice is almost impossible. Therefore, the less — the better.

Excess sun also accelerates the aging of our skin and can even cause cancer. In addition, the sun destroys the skin’s natural collagen, which provides it with elasticity. This is one of the causes of premature wrinkles. Excess sun is not just cancer or photoaging. Excessive exposure to the sun is a proven cause of many autoimmune diseases. For example, lupus erythematosus.

woman wearing black sunglasses

Myth 2. You can not get a sunburn in gloomy weather

Truth: Unfortunately, you can.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, 80% of the sun’s rays pass through the clouds. So even on a gloomy summer day, you should use sunscreen. And more! Even in winter, it does not hurt to protect your skin from the sun. Skiers and snowboarders have a higher risk of getting skin cancer.

Water, snow and sand reflect the sun’s rays and increase your risk of sunburn. There is such a thing as a UV index. An index of the intensity of ultraviolet light. Here you have to look like this: if it is more than 5, then you need strong protection. This index can be seen in any program that shows the weather, you can check it on your smartphone, weather forecast site, and so on.

There is no clear correlation with temperature. If it’s 32 degrees, but it’s evening, then, of course, we don’t need strong protection. But you can burn even at 18-20 degrees.

Myth 3. If “burned”, you need to grease with sour cream or panthenol

Truth: No and no.

Let’s start with the Panthenol. This is really a very popular remedy against burns. But it has no proven effectiveness against burns.

The main substance — Dexpanthenol — provitamin B₅, a derivative form and alcohol analogue of pantothenic acid. In the process of metabolism in the body, dexpanthenol is oxidized to pantothenic acid, which has a regenerating and protective effect.


  • Cetostearyl alcohol (type A) emulsified — contributes to the homogeneity of the solution.
  • Macrogolglycerol cocoate is a surfactant that regulates foaming.
  • Methylparaben (E218) — preservative.
  • Propylene glycol is a solvent with bactericidal properties.
  • Potassium dihydrogen phosphate — regulates the acidity of the environment.
  • Sodium phosphate dodecahydrate is an excipient.
  • Purified water.
  • Tetrafluoroethane — provides cold.

Cetostearyl alcohol is used in the production of creams and ointments and in cosmetics as a thickener (increasing the viscosity of emulsions increases their stability). It has a very negative effect on the burn wound.

This alcohol is not toxic, but adverse reactions (contact urticaria and hypersensitivity reactions) are known.

If only two substances were present in the Panthenol — water and tetrafluoroethane, it would really be called an anti-burn spray.

And what about sour cream?

First of all, sour cream contains fat.

And fat is something that only complicates the healing of burns. When we burn, the skin secretes fluid. This helps to moisturize and cool the wound. If we apply grease to the wound, it blocks the pores and moisture does not come out and this can cause swelling. In addition, fat creates something of a blanket. The heat is not given outside and this only deepens the burn. It becomes bigger and wider.

And worst of all, we block the access of air and some bacteria, such as those that cause tetanus, start to multiply.

Myth 4. If you do not sunbathe, you will not get enough vitamin D.

Truth: The sun really helps our body naturally produce vitamin D.

However, to get it, you do not need to stay in the sun for a long time and even more so to bring yourself to sunburn. One study shows that 13 minutes in the sun is enough for fair-skinned adults to maintain a healthy level of vitamin D in the body.

Another study found that a 30-minute stay in the sun in mid-summer in Norway equates to 10,000 to 20,000 international units (IU) of synthetic vitamin D. For comparison, the recommended daily dose of synthetic vitamin D is 600 IU.

According to the British Academy of Dermatology, the time in the sun required to obtain vitamin D can vary depending on the area, physiological characteristics of the person, and so on.

But this is definitely not the time when the skin will have time to damage and darken. Or as we often say — tan.

brown glass bottle across two women

Myth 5. In winter it is useful to go to the solarium for a while. Again, to get vitamin D.

Truth: No, a tanning bed will not help you produce enough vitamin D at all and will significantly increase your risk of skin cancer.


There are two types of sunlight — ultraviolet rays of spectrum A and ultraviolet rays of spectrum B.

Both types of these rays destroy skin cells and can cause cancer.

At the same time in the solarium you get only the rays of the spectrum A, which damage your skin, but do not provoke the production of vitamin D, writes the Skin Cancer Foundation.

Myth 6. The sun can only damage the skin

Truth: No, your hair also suffers if you do not protect it with a hat.

Ultraviolet light suppresses cell division and hair begins to grow worse. Protect yourself with a hat or to use a special sunscreen hair spray.