25 July 2014

Youve heard the horror stories... people visit tanning salons in the hope of coming away with bronzed skin, but instead, come back with something they hadnt bargained for skin cancer. While its universally accepted that tanning beds cause more harm than good, is this concept scientifically true? A recent article highlighted what we already know that overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun can result in skin damage, and lead to skin cancer. However, the article digs deeper by looking into the differentiation of UV rays and its impact on our health.Ultraviolet raysSunlight offers both UVA (long) and UVB (short) rays with both harming skin cells and causing skin cancer. Yet while UVB rays are renowned for being the burning rays, despite tanning beds offering both types of rays, the focus is primarily UVA rays (which aid tanning). This can be dangerous, as while theres less chance of the UVA rays burning your skin, these rays can in fact penetrate further rapidly ageing the appearance of your skin. One area of concern when it comes to skin cancer is that of melanoma as the deadliest type around, its actually proving more prevalent. This is due to the increasing popularity of tanning salons amongst the younger generation: while a scary statistic points out that 75 per cent of melanomas diagnosed in those aged 18-29 are connected to tanning bed use. An interesting point to bear in mind is that tanning beds emit six times the amount of radiation given by the sun which is why even spending just 15 minutes on a tanning bed has similar results to hours of sunbathing without proper sun protection.Smart skincare in the sunWhile the article indicates the dangers of sunbathing, a good rule of thumb suggests getting sunlight for about 10-15 minutes, several times a week. Be sure to use strong sunscreen, and opt for the shade when you can. Also look out for sensitive areas such as the ears, back of the neck and the face and avoid peak exposure (between 11am and 3pm). What precautions do you take in the sunshine? Share your skincare tips on Twitter.