OK, from the off, a statement of truth from the confessional. I’m a guilty suspect in this particular feature. What is the truth about ‘safe’ tanning?
Is it possible to get a golden glow in time for your summer hols without ruining your skin? Or alternatively, are you willing to risk orange fake tan marks on your white bikini?
Let’s start with the science bit: UVB rays burn and cause sunburn, whilst UVA rays tan your skin slowly but also dehydrate and age your skin prematurely. So you need to check the star rating in relation to both A and B on that Lancaster tube of factor 30.
Even if you wear SPF30 for UVB, it won’t protect you from UVA damage without a 5 star rating too. Confused? Me too.
To put it into perspective, your mum was right. Only mad dogs and Englishmen stay out in the midday sun. The sun’s rays are at their strongest between 12 and 2pm, plus if you’re of Arab descent, you’re safer than a Norwegian blonde. Some of us tan better than others. Some just don’t tan. They burn and peel.
You can reverse sun damage by not burning as a child, and (to an extent) use extra vitamin C and anti-oxidants with medical strength retinols to repair DNA. But here’s the bad news – direct DNA damage can lead to skin cancer.
Are we doomed? It can take 15-20 years to see the first signs of damage, like crows feet.
Ultimately, and I say this with deep regret, go out in the sun in moderation and reapply sun protection every few hours.
A tan indicates that there’s some form of skin damage, so you might prefer to opt for the full body St Tropez, instead of bringing on the leather effect.
I know we all want to be tanned for the summer, but (as I read today) when Cancer becomes more common than marriage – is it worth it?