The body's natural defense to the harmful
UV rays of sunlight is a sun tan. A sun tan
results from the production of melanin, (which
absorbs ultraviolet (UV) light and thereby
protects the sensitive skin cells. The presence
of melanin creates a visible darkening of
the skin. Overexposure to the sun (or sun
lamps or other sources of UV rays) beyond
that which the melanin in the skin can absorb
leads to skin damage (see sunburn), wrinkling, aging, and potentially deadly
forms of skin cancer.
Despite this, as a society, we
sun tanned look as "healthy"
"active." So how do
you get a "healthy"
- Sunless tanning lotions work by simulating
the color of a tan without the skin producing
melanin. These work by interacting with the
outer layer of (dead) skin cells to produce
the desired color. This means, however, that
sunless tans do not provide any UV protection
and so leave your skin subject to sunburn
just as if you had no color at all. They
also "fade" faster because the
color flakes off with the surface skin cells.
- If you insist on a real sun tan (perhaps
because of the protection melanin provides
from UV), you must accept the fact that all
tanning damages your skin to some degree.
It is the exposure to UV that prompts the
production of the protective melanin as a
defense. So, the best way to tan is through
a gradual exposure (over a week or more)
to increasing amounts of sun light to allow
time for your skin to produce melanin and
maintain a sufficient level of protection.