Tanning causes your skin to darken due to exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun or from artificial resources, such as indoor tanning beds. The skin darkens due to the production of melanin when your skin is exposed to UV rays.
Melanin is a natural pigment produced by melanocytes. When the skin is exposed to the sun’s UV rays, the body produces melanin to help protect the skin from the harmful rays of the sun.
Let’s Talk About UV Rays
Ultraviolet is an electromagnetic radiation that’s shorter than visible light, but longer than x-ray. It is most commonly found in sunlight.
There are three main types of UV rays: UVA, UVB and UVC.
UVA rays have the longest wavelengths. They are transmitted through the atmosphere, and can penetrate the middle layer of your skin. It is also the least potent, but the most abundant UV ray. It can penetrate clouds and car windows, increasing the risk of melanoma and skin aging.
UVB rays have a shorter wavelength than UVA rays. Some UVB rays are absorbed by the Earth’s ozone layer, and it can reach the outer layer of your skin. This is the UV ray that can cause sunburn, as it is the second most potent radiation.
UVC rays have the shortest wavelengths, and are absorbed by the Earth’s ozone layer. Since it is absorbed by our atmosphere, it is not much of a concern unless you’re in outer space.
There are two processes to get a tan. UVA radiation first creates oxidative stress, which leads to the darkening of the melanin. The second phase is where UVB radiation triggers our skin cells, which increases the production of melanin. As a result, the skin forms a tan.
Tanning in the Shade
You might think that staying under the shade can lessen the likelihood of you getting a tan. You might also think that you won’t get a tan when you stay outdoors on a cloudy weather.
Guess what, you can still get a tan even when you’re under a shade! The reason for it is that the sun is reflecting off of the objects in your environment. An example of which is the beach sand or the bright snow on a winter morning reflecting the sun’s rays on your skin. So, even though you are not directly under the sun, you can still be exposed to its UV rays.
The type of shade you have can protect you from the UV rays. And, although they provide some protection, no shade is completely safe. Some shades can still let some UVB rays pass through, so it’s helpful to check the Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) rating of your shade to determine how much protection you have.
Take note, too, that not all shades are equal. For example, thick shades from buildings can offer more shade than a beach umbrella.
Tanning During Cloudy Days
Tanning gives you the natural bronze look, but it won’t help you withstand the harmful effects of the sun’s UV rays. Hence, taking care of your skin when tanning is a must.
When sunbathing, your skin produces melanin due to the exposure to UVA and UVB rays. But can clouds shield us from the sun’s UV rays, and can we tan when it is cloudy?
The answer is yes.
Yes, you can still get a tan when it’s cloudy. Ninety percent of the UV rays can still pass through the fluffy clouds. Grey clouds filter 53 percent of rays, while white clouds only filter 10 percent.
Since you don’t feel the heat when it’s cloudy, you tend to overexpose yourself, and get a sunburn. To avoid getting sunburned when it’s cloudy, do apply sunscreen and follow the steps we have listed below to get the best tanning experience.
How to Safely Tan in the Shade or When it’s Cloudy
To get the most out of your tanning experience, follow these simple steps to get an even tan.
Prepare Your Skin
Even when you tan in the shade or when it’s cloudy, you should still prep your skin before you tan outside. First step is to exfoliate your skin. Exfoliating your skin helps remove dead skin cells, giving your tan a good base and long-lasting results. Second is to moisturize your skin to keep it hydrated. Doing so would also keep your skin healthy and protected from the sun’s UV rays.
Sunbathing in the shade or when it’s cloudy still requires application of sunscreen. As what we had discussed earlier, you can still get a tan in this kind of weather. You need to keep it protected from the sun’s UV rays to avoid the risk of getting sunburnt. You can use a sunscreen of at least SPF 10 or 15. Reapply every two hours.
Sunglasses provide protection from the UV rays of the sun, and lessens the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration. The exposure to UV rays thins the protective pigments in the eye, and causes oxidative stress and radical damage. Hence, wear sunglasses that can provide protection from UVA and UVB rays.
Stretch Out on a Towel or Lounge Chair
To tan under the shade or cloudy weather, you can start on your stomach or your back. Spread out your arms, and elongate your body to avoid uneven patches.
Schedule Your Tan
Avoid tanning at the peak hours of the day since you can still get sunburnt during these hours. Schedule your tan before 10 am or after 4 pm. You shouldn’t also spend a lot of time tanning since it can harm your skin. Try building up your tan by tanning outside, and showering after 30 minutes to one hour. This would help you avoid the risk of getting a sunburn.
Change Your Position
Change your body position every 10 to 20 minutes for better tanning results. Flip sides, and move your arms and legs to tan evenly. You can also set up a timer, so you won’t forget.
If you have pale or light skin, you can tan for five minutes per side. If you have a medium or dark skin, you can tan for 10 minutes per side.
Natural tanning is both an efficient and budget-friendly alternative to tanning. Taking the necessary precautions when tanning is equally important to avoid the risk of sunburns or any skin ailments. Understanding the precautionary measures made will help you get a healthy and even tan.