Summer Beach vacation! Aren’t most of us just waiting to dig our feet into the sand and enjoy the salty breeze? All this fun on a broad sunny day will surely end up giving us some tan. Many people believe that simply wearing sunscreen during their vacation is enough to avoid tanning, but unfortunately, this is not always the case. Tanning occurs even with sunscreen and exfoliation is the key to reversing it.
Why doesn't sunscreen always work?
Understanding that sunscreen does not completely block the sun's rays is essential. While it may reduce the amount of UV radiation that reaches your skin, some still get through. Additionally, sunscreen must be reapplied regularly to maintain effectiveness, especially after swimming, long outdoor hours, and sweating. Factors such as sweat, water, and friction can cause sunscreen to wear off or become less effective, this can further increase the risk of sun tanning. So, even if you use sunscreen diligently during your beach vacation, you can still develop a tan. The good news is that with proper care, you can reduce the intensity and duration of the tan.
Science behind the tan
Sun tanning occurs when the skin is exposed to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun. It penetrates the skin and triggers the production of melanin, a pigment that gives the skin its color. The more melanin produced, the darker the skin appears.
UVA and UVB radiation are the most relevant for sun tanning and sunburn. UVA radiation penetrates deeper into the skin and can cause long-term damage, such as premature aging and an increased risk of skin cancer. UVB radiation, on the other hand, is responsible for the immediate effects of sun exposure, such as sunburn and tanning.
When the skin is exposed to UVB radiation, the DNA in skin cells can become damaged. The body's response to this damage is to produce melanin, which acts as a natural sunscreen by absorbing and scattering UV radiation. This is why people with darker skin tones have more melanin and are less likely to sunburn.
Ways to prevent it
‘One of the best ways to do this is through exfoliation’ says Dr. Gauri Godse. Exfoliation removes the outer layer of dead skin cells, which contain melanin. The exfoliation process can be ramped up by applying lotions with alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) and vitamin C. While vitamin C brightens the skin and aids in minimizing the appearance of sun damage, AHAs function by dissolving the bonds that hold together dead skin cells.
A good thumb rule by Dr. Gauri, is to just exfoliate twice or thrice a week and to constantly moisturize afterward to keep your skin nourished. Finally, maintaining sufficient hydration and applying sunscreen on a regular basis can help prevent more tanning and shield the skin from UV rays.