UV radiation

How Does Tanning Oil Work and Is It Safe?

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You’ve probably heard about the wonders of tanning oils and how beneficial they are in achieving a beautiful glowing tan while keeping your skin healthy. A lot of people have asked me about it, curiously asking how it works and if it’s really safe for our skin.

Well, tanning oil does work, though it may not be for everyone. But how will you know if this product is good for your skin and future tanning sessions? Read on to find out what tanning oil is, what it does, and if it’s worth the investment!

What Is Tanning Oil?

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Before anything else, what is tanning oil in the first place?

Tanning oils, just like the name suggests, are oils specially formulated to help with your tanning process. This is different from tanning lotions, which accelerate the natural tanning procedure to intensify results. Oils would help get the results you want a bit more accurately.

Besides helping you achieve a tan, high-quality tanning oils have a unique composition which can help provide more benefits, like:

  • More sun protection
  • Faster and even tan
  • Moisturizes the skin
  • Antioxidant and anti-aging properties
  • Help repair damaged skin
  • Revitalizes the skin

Some oils have additional ingredients including bronzers, sunscreens, tingle activators, and more, which make them even more effective in specific situations and conditions.

How Our Skin Gets Tan

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Before we get into how these oils work, let’s first get into how our skin tans in the first place.

Our skin has two major levels, which are the epidermis (outside layer) and the dermis (inside layer).

The epidermis is a barrier that protects delicate organisms in our dermis layer. In the dermis layer, you will find things like your sweat glands, hair follicles, nerve endings, and more.

The epidermis does not have any of those things, nor does it have a direct blood supply. Because of this, this layer is targeted for the tan.

The epidermis also consists of other layers. The stratum basale is the deepest layer, which is usually affected throughout the tanning process when the skin receives the darker glow when under direct sunlight. So if you want the tan, you want to get to the stratum basale, which is where the melanocytes are located.

Melanocytes are cells giving color to your skin. When under UV rays, these melanocytes will activate and produce melanin, causing your skin to become darker and tanner.

When exposed to UVB rays from the sun, this is harmful to the dermis and may cause skin cancer. Melanocytes would produce even more dark melanin when exposed, so it would protect the dermis. The more melanin in the skin means fewer UVB rays would penetrate to the dermis, so it serves against UV radiation.

The next layer of the epidermis is the stratum corneum, the outermost portion of the epidermis. It’s made of dead skin cells that are gradually shed from your skin, which are what turn into a dark color when exposed to DHA. DHA is an active chemical in self tanners and bronzers.

How Do Tanning Oils Work?

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Now that you know more about how our skin gets tan and the layers it should target, the next question is: How do tanning oils work?

Tanning oils would work on our skin’s epidermis layer. It will activate the melanocytes, encouraging them to produce even more melanin at quicker rates. When you apply tanning oil before going under the sun or tanning bed, it speeds up the process so you tan quickly. Furthermore, it would amplify the effects of the UV rays on your skin, which will help you produce even more melanin.

Very effective tanning products would contain bronzers that have dihydroxyacetone, an active ingredient, a form of colorless sugar. This would interact with dead skin cells, and once worked into the dead skin, the color will change. However, take note that the effects of the oils would last to 7 days or so, since the dead skin cells would wear away, developing new skin cells.

Some oils contain moisturizers, usually containing vitamin E, glycerine, panthenol, sodium PCA, or sodium isethionate. These would help hydrate the body, with moisturized skin tanning even better and preventing skin peeling.

Are Tanning Oils Safe?

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In general, tanning oils are safe to use, containing ingredients that have little to no harm to our skin or overall health. BUT, the excess and/or prolonged use may cause issues, which vary depending on your skin condition, among other factors. This is why it’s crucial to check the ingredient list to ensure that your skin doesn’t receive any chemicals it may react negatively to.

One particular ingredient a few people should avoid is gluten, which is a naturally occurring protein from mineral oils. If it is absorbed by the skin in excess, it may cause serious problems and skin disorders, such as dermatitis herpetiformis or chronic blisters, especially if you are allergic to gluten.

Furthermore, these oils would usually have low Sun Protection Factor (SPF), since they are labeled for tanning. And since tanning oils attract and focus UV rays on the skin to produce melanin production, this may end up being bad on the skin. That’s why it’s important to get tanning oils with enough SPF (at least 30 SPF), and even if it may not give you instant results, it provides better protection on the skin.

Unfortunately, even when you do exercise caution, there is no such thing as a 100% safe tan.

The best way to minimize the risk of excess sun damage is to make sure that you use SPF daily, check the tanning products’ ingredients to prevent allergic reactions, and to check your skin a couple of times a year for any signs of skin conditions that your doctor will need to check out. Furthermore, avoid too much sun exposure, only staying under the sun for less than half an hour daily.

Besides what I mentioned above, here are a few quick tips for using tanning oils for a good tan:

  • Make sure that you apply the product evenly across the parts of your body you’d like to tan. When applying it on delicate areas such as your face, do so gently and evenly.
  • If you want to speed the tan up further, reapply the oil every 2 hours, especially if you sweat a lot from exercise and work, or swim frequently. To avoid over-tanning quickly, reapply it every 3-5 hours instead, depending on your preference and skin type.
  • Once you have applied the oil, allow your skin to soak it all up, as they need to be absorbed by your skin to begin the tanning process. Do NOT wash it off right after, as they work best when they are on your skin until they are completely used up. I recommend getting water-resistant tanning oil for best results if you plan to wade in the waters or sweat.
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Sum Up

As you can see from above, tanning oils are very effective if you would like to achieve an excellent tan in a shorter period, compared to going without any tanning products. However, you have to be wary, as it may contain ingredients not suitable for everyone. As long as you read the ingredient list beforehand and tan under the sun or tanning bed safely, then you can have the awesome sun-kissed glow without negatively affecting your skin.

I hope that my article answered your question on how tanning oils work and if they are safe to use. Now that you know the answers, begin your search in finding the most suitable tanning products for you and visit here to check out tanning oil reviews to know what you should invest in.

Do you have questions, or would you like to share your insights on tanning oils? Share them in the comments section below, I appreciate all of your thoughts.

4 Tips on How to Protect Your Skin During the Summer

The sun is dangerous. We all need it, and we all want more of it, but it poses a very real risk to your health if you’re under its blazing rays in excess. According to Cancer Council NSW, UV radiation is the main factor that causes skin cells to become cancer cells. Direct exposure, and boatloads of it, can increase your risk of getting cancer exponentially.

What’s more is that sunburns and frequent untreated sun exposure can welt your skin, leave you with scars, and make you develop blemishes and “sun spots”. Sun spots and blemishes are mostly harmless, but they can look unsightly and they are also indicative: if you have a lot of sun spots, it means you’re exposed to UV radiation enough to cause damage to your skin—frequently.

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If you are concerned about preventing damage to your skin, avoiding cancer, or you simply want to keep your skin looking rather youthful, it’s important to protect it. Your skin is your largest organ; just as you’d pre-emptively try to protect your other organs, it’s smart to do the same with your skin.

Take Frequent Shade Breaks

Besides wearing thick garments, shade is the greatest protector against damage from the sun.

But when it’s summer and you’re trying to have some fun, you don’t want to stay indoors or in the shade. You want to soak up some rays and feel the heat on your skin. The pursuit of protecting your skin shouldn’t come with sacrifice. After all, you want to protect your skin so that you can enjoy life.

A worthwhile compromise here is to take frequent shade breaks. What this means is that if you spend half an hour in the sun, maybe spend ten to fifteen minutes in the shade afterwards. Switch back and forth and you’ll give your skin necessary time to repair any damage from the sun. You can also use these breaks as an opportunity to drink some water, reapply sunscreen, and maybe have a snack.

Img Source: sombra-shade.com

Apply Sunscreen Rated Above SPF 15

Sunscreens that have an SPF of 15 meet the minimum standards of the FDA. But authority figures in the field of UV radiation and dermatology all agree that this probably isn’t good enough.

It’s important to apply the right sunscreen. Some brands are dishonest about how much protection they truly offer, and some people also buy sunscreen that’s rated too low. If you have particularly sensitive skin or you’re in an unusually sunny environment, it’s important to use sunscreen that has an SPF of at least 50. More, if you can.

Keep in mind that a higher SPF doesn’t mean the sunscreen lasts longer. It just means that the cream is blocking more UV rays. You still need to re-apply the cream regularly to maximize coverage, and it’s still important to take shade breaks. No sunscreen blocks all UV rays. No matter how strong you go, you’re still absorbing UV radiation.

Img Source: goodhousekeeping.com

There are two kinds of UV radiation: UVB and UVA.

UVB rays cause sunburn and are the biggest culprits in skin cancer risk while out and about in the sun.

UVA rays are what cause more casual skin damage. UVA rays tan your skin, create blemishes, and cause wrinkles. To a lesser extent, they also still contribute to sunburn risk.

Many sunscreens only protect against UVB rays. You can increase your protection against the sun by purchasing sunscreen that is advertised as “broad spectrum”. This will tell you that the sunscreen protects against both UVB and UVA rays.

While it is safer to avoid tanning, it may be the case that tanning is important to you. If it is, a broad spectrum sunscreen will hinder the tanning process. Go with a regular sunscreen if you want to keep doing it, but consider going with a stronger SPF as a compromise.

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Use an Umbrella with Proper Sun-Blocking Fabric

Did you know that many umbrellas don’t protect you completely from the sun? It’s an unfortunate truth, and it’s one most people don’t know about. If you’re the kind of person who likes lounging underneath a patio umbrella, you’ll be displeased to know that it’s likely you weren’t blocking all the harmful UV rays.

This isn’t necessarily a big deal; after all, sun exposure is sun exposure, and many people do enjoy that. Just look at the people sunbathing at all hours of the day! But if you’re looking to keep your skin healthy, it becomes important to give your skin the chance to heal. You already know to take frequent shade breaks, so let’s take that a step further.

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When you’re in the shade, make sure the shade is actually protecting you!

The best way to guarantee this is to use an umbrella that is built with proper sun-blocking fabric. The Skin Cancer Foundation lists several umbrellas that can protect you, and many of these can do so in style. There’s no reason to look drab while taking care of yourself. High-quality umbrellas like Sunbrella Umbrellas, available at iPatioUmbrella.com,   that are properly rated can go a long way towards guaranteeing that your skin gets the chance to recuperate from a jaunt in the sun.

It would be more foolproof to wear thick clothes, but anyone who’s spent some time in the sun in the middle of summer knows this to be a poor choice. Temperature regulation is important, and running around is a bit of a task if you’re huffing and puffing because of your clothing. You can keep the layers off and still be safe if you use a properly rated umbrella.

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Make Sure You’re in a Place with Lots of Natural Shade

Up to this point, you’ll have undoubtedly noticed a trend. It is true that the best way to protect your skin during the summer is by utilizing shade. There aren’t many foolproof ways of guaranteeing your skin remains unblemished and undamaged while maximizing sun exposure. We aren’t quite there yet.

So this means it’s good to be redundant. Specifically setting aside time to be in the shade can be a damper on the mood when you’re having fun. You likely have memories of childhood when you groaned after being told to come inside for a while just as the games were getting really good. And this still rings true today; shade is better than any other intervention or remedy, but it can be a drag if you’re constantly stopping the fun.

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An alternative is to spend your time outdoors in a place that has a lot of natural shade. If you’ve seen the canopy of a forest, even by a clearing or field, you’ll have also seen that there’s a healthy pattern of sun and shade. In some ways, this can be a more effective means of minimizing damage from the sun.

Be warned: Constantly flitting from shade to sun from one moment to the next is helpful, but it isn’t total protection. You will still need to take shade breaks—just not as frequently as you ordinarily would if the sun exposure were perpetual instead of intermittent.

Sometimes this isn’t possible. For example, a beach will likely not have many areas that possess “natural shade”, but that’s where your umbrella comes into the mix. Otherwise, try to plan your events and engagements in places that offer a lot of natural protection. This is a great idea if you know you won’t remember to take as many shade breaks as you should, or if you simply just don’t want to take that many breaks.

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What’s Next?

Armed with these four tips, you’ll start enjoying a life with a significantly reduced number of sunburns. The Aloe Vera bottles you keep for treating your burns will fall into disuse, and you’ll start noticing that your skin looks great even after spending weeks in the sun.

Try to make protecting your skin as non-invasive and routine as you can. The biggest obstacle to proper care is often obligation and effort; if you feel as though you have to force yourself to take care of something, your incentive and motivation to follow through—consistently and regularly—will waver.

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So make the choices that turn this affair into one that barely registers as a task. As mentioned above, if you know you’re not going to be able to take as many shade breaks as you should, plan your outdoor activities in a location where this is less important. If you know your skin is sensitive, use stronger sunscreen. If you know you’ll be in an area where there is no shade, get an sunbrella umbrella that will protect you from the sun.

Bake these choices in until they become a habit and you’ll be prepared to enjoy the summer months without feeling as though you’re cramping the vibe. It can be tough to be safe while having fun, and it can be a juggle sometimes. Keep your inclinations and preferences in mind as you move forward, and make the decisions that guarantee you’re protecting yourself as best you can no matter what.