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How to Get a Tan Safely

5 Steps for safe sun exposure

You know that creeping voice in your head that warns you, and yells at you to take good care of your skin so you don’t turn into a wrinkly prune by the age of 30? Especially in the last decade, awareness of sun damage, skin cancer, and proper use of SPF have been loud and clear. And yet, sun-kissed-glistening-golden-vacation-you is the best-you. SO, what do you do?

Let me start this off by saying: if you want to know if there’s a safe way to tan, the answer is there is not. UV rays are extremely harmful for your skin, and even if you don’t get a burn, tanning is still a reaction of your skin getting damaged by the sun. Therefore, while I cannot morally recommend going tanning, I do have a few thoughts about this topic and how to “safely” get that sun glow. 

First of all, let’s be real. It’s only life! And what is life if we removed all the oh-so-bad things that make us feel oh-so-good? We’re willing to damage our mental health by working 9-6 for a terrible boss that burns us out, but we’re not willing to eat processed foods and lie out in the sun for 30 minutes? Let’s rethink that. Everything needs to be balanced, and so long as you are intaking “bad things” in moderation, life will go on. And believe it or not, your skin is NOT out to get you or turn you into a shriveled raisin the first opportunity it gets. So grab your bikini, a good book, and go soak up that oh-so-cozy heat. 

*PLEASE NOTE: Skin types vary, and darker skin tones have the ability to produce more melanin, the pigment that protects you from sun damage. However, ALL skin types are vulnerable to skin cancer, and should be protected. Remember, not one single person on this earth is stronger than the  382 800 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 Watt sun. 

1. Use SPF of 30 or Higher

To understand how SPF works, think of it this way: the “30” simply means you can stay in the sun 30x lounger than without the sunscreen. I like to think that 2 minutes in the sun without any protection is already pushing it. But take that and times it by 30 and you’ve afforded yourself an hour in the sun. This is NOT taking into account swimming/washing off the sunscreen. Once you reach that hour mark, it’s time to reapply. But before getting into that, let’s move onto step 2.

2. Limit your time in the sun to an hour

Try to limit your direct sun exposure to an hour. By “direct”, I mean the time you actively spend lying out in the sun. I know this may be difficult if you’re spending the day at the beach, but you’re going to want to sit in the shade after an hour of exposure. You definitely don’t want to have the harsh rays pounding down on your skin for too long, so let your skin rest for some time. Try to avoid any further direct tanning, and make sure to reapply your sunscreen if you plan on walking around in the sun afterwards.


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3. Distinguish Between “Tanning” Time and “Out and About in The Sun” Time

Make a distinction between your “tanning” time and the time you’re simply walking around outside. This will give you better control of how much sun you are actually being exposed to. Make sure to give your face a little shade in a cute cap, and up your SPF to 50 for your face so it’s less harmful if you forget to reapply.

4. Avoid Tanning Beds at All Costs

Believe it or not, tanning beds are 100 times more harmful than sunlight. And that’s not an exaggeration. The American Academy of Ophthalmology found that tanning beds create 100 times the amount of UV light than the sun. On top of that you don’t even get the benefits of Vitamin D and the freeing feeling of being outside. It’s an absolute no for me.

5. Use Proper After-Sun Skincare Routine

It’s vital to take proper care of your skin after having exposed it to harsh light. You’re going to want to rehydrate, moisturize, and apply products that quickly heal burns like Aloe Vera and Vitamin C. Follow this after-sun skincare routine we laid out for you in our most recent blog.

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