The truth about tanning


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Notebook

Is it possible to get a golden glow this summer withour ruining your skin? Notebook beauty writer and self-confessed sun worshiper Zoe Cripps asks the experts if there’s a way to tan without regretting it in years to come…

What are UVA and UVB Rays?
UVB rays are the ones that cause sunburn, says Dr Noor Almaani, consultant dermatologist at The Private Clinic. You can help protect yourself by using a high factor SPF of 30 or above.

UVA rays are the ones that give you a tan but also cause you to age prematurely. A cream’s UVA protection is shown by the star rating (1-5). However, the star rating only shows how good it is at protecting against UVA in relation to how well it protects against UVB. So a 5-star SPF 8, for instance, will still have fairly low protection from both types of rays.

If i wear SPF30, will it stop me from getting a tan?
No, it’s just likely to happen more slowly with less risk of burning. ‘Even if you are wearing a high SPF with good UVA (4 or 5 star) protection, the rays can still reach the skin to cause a tan if your sun exposure is high enough’ says Noor.

So as long as I don’t burn, I’m getting a safe tan?
Sadly not. ‘UVA rays are also the ones that damage the deeper layers of your skin and accelerate ageing’ says Noor. ‘You can use a high SPF with 5-star UVA protection and the tan will be more gradual and/or less deep, but it’s still damaging, although less than it would be using no cream or low protection.’

[…]

What actually happens to my skin when I get sunburnt?
It’s a little bit more serious than the initial ouch. ‘As sun hits the skin, it causes an inflammatory reaction within the cells, which leads to redness,’ says Noor. ‘You can also get direct DNA damage, which makes changes to the cells that can cause cancer.’

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