Spray tan to stay out of the sun

By Shayna Brouker • Published: April 23rd, 2012
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Spring is in the air, the sun is out and so are the swimsuits. As the big orange ball beckons sun worshippers out of winter hibernation, so too come the sunburns, scaly skin, aloe vera gel … and an increased risk of skin cancer. But what if you can have your tan and keep your health, too?

Researchers say fake tans are the answer. A study of more than 400 fair-skinned young women living in perennially sunny Atlanta, Georgia found that the more they fake-baked with spray tans and skin-tinting lotions, the less they went out to get sunkissed the old-fashioned way.

The research results, published in the Archives of Dermatology, run counter to dermatologists’ previous concerns that fake tans would encourage more self-sunning and more burning. But using a sunless product to get bronze decreased sunbathing by 37 percent and tanning bed use by 38 percent. The more women slathered themselves with sunless product, like lotions, foams or sprays, the better. Even using the stuff just five times a year translated to less U-V exposure.

After all, there’s no skirting the fact that tan is in and pale is out. The study also found that more than 90 percent of women preferred tan to white and almost 80 percent felt more beautiful when their skin was bronzed.

But even sunless tanners come with some safety concerns of their own. The main ingredient is D-H-A, which reacts with cells in the outermost layer of skin to darken its appearance. In some cases it can cause rashes and should not be inhaled.

And of course, bearing a beautiful bronze by bottle is no excuse to skimp on sunscreen once you do hit the rays. Slather on sunscreen that is at least S-P-F 30 about 15 to 30 minutes before heading outside. Remember to reapply every two hours or after swimming. A tan may look pretty, but skin cancer is not.