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Does Tanning Boost Skin Aging?

woman tanning on the beach

UV radiation can be either artificial or natural. The effects on the skin are very noticeable. There are both long term and short term effects on the skin that you must be aware of.

What Is a Sun Tan?
The first thing you have to realize is that there are no safe tans. When you tan, your skin pigment – melanin – increases. This leads to a color change in your skin and is actually a sign of damage. When the skin is exposed to the radiation of UV lights, like sunbeds or the sun, the production of melanin goes up. This is our body’s way of protecting the skin. Melanin also colors your eyes and your hair. It will take around 48 hours for the melanin to darken your skin. Only skin type I is not able of developing a tan, burning instead. Most people who are ginger or have significant freckles have skin type I.

The Bottom Line
There is now a lot of evidence that demonstrates that having a sun tan makes the chances of developing skin cancer must higher. Besides, having a sun tan will in no way protect you from burning or from contracting other damage to the skin. Yes, having a sun tan does provide an SPF, but that is only between 2 and 4. The recommended minimum SPF is 15.

Premature Aging
Premature aging is known as photoaging. This is when people are exposed to UV lights without any protection. This leaves the skin look wrinkled and leathery and also creates dark spots. The causes of premature aging cannot always be determined. However, sun tanning is a clear reason for premature aging, because UV rays break the elastin fibers and the collagen in the skin. This means that the skin is no longer young, creating loose folds and wrinkles. Those who burn frequently or those who spend a lot of time on the sunbeds often have a more permanent sun tan, a permanent leathery texture and more dark spots.

The symptoms of premature aging, therefore, include:
• Leathery skin
• Dark spots
• Wrinkles

If you find your skin has aged prematurely, there are a number of treatment plans that are developed by plastic surgeons or dermatologists. Some of the treatments that are offered include dermabrasion, chemical peels and/or skin fillers.

It is important to understand that premature aging is a very common side-effect of too high exposure to UV lights. Hence, you may not see it yet, but it will show up at some point. You may start to age younger than others, even if you were burned in your early teens. It is essential to avoid exposure to UV rays if you want to maintain a healthy skin.

Understanding Extrinsic Aging
Extrinsic aging is the process of the skin aging due to factors other than age. UV rays, as discussed are one of the main causes of extrinsic aging. There are a number of other factors that can lead to extrinsic aging, including gravity, facial expressions, smoking and sleeping positions. UV rays, however, are the most common culprit.

If you don’t protect yourself from the sun, daily exposure of just a few minutes can cause extreme damage. Freckles are very common, as are spider veins. Some people start to develop a blotchy complexion, or actinic keratosis. These are red patches of skin that are really thick and mostly resemble rough warts.

Photoaging depends on two main factors:
1. The natural skin color of the person
2. The history of intense or long-term sun exposure

Generally, the fairer the skin, the greater the damage of photo aging. Those with dark skins, however, will generally only notice a mottled complexion or a few fine wrinkles. It takes years for photoaging to really develop, but people will notice it at some point. A good example is found in those people who live in Arizona or Florida. They often start to show the first signs of photoaging when they are only in their 20s. It is also in these areas that young cases of skin cancer are most prominent.

{ 1 comment… add one }
  • Sandra Goldstein July 8, 2013, 4:14 pm

    I am blessed with naturally dark or tanned skin, so I don’t need to tan. I see people who lay out on the beach trying to get a dark tan every year. I think to myself, do these people know how much damage they are doing to their skin for the sake of trying to appear more beautiful. If these people would be able to see themselves 10,20, or 30 year later and see how aged their appearance looks, I think they would forgo the sun and opt for a tan in a bottle. With the potential for skin cancer increase, there is no amount of money that could get me to subject my body through the torture that tanning produces.

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