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Tanning Facts & Fiction: Debunking Tanning Myths

Tanning has always been a very popular way to achieve that golden, bronzed glow. For a big part of the population, this simply means taking advantage of the sun’s UV rays to darken their skin. They lather on some sunscreen (at least, we hope they do), lay out for a few hours, and work on their tan. Straightforward and simple, right?

However, there are still some caveats to this seemingly easy process. The sun, after all, is a ball of hot gas that emits harmful UV radiation. If you’re not careful, overexposure can damage your skin. And tanning beds? Although they’re designed to give you a “safe” and controlled tan, they also come with their own set of risks.

But not a lot of people believe the risks associated with these tanning methods. As a matter of fact, did you know that in a 2022 survey conducted by the American Academy of Dermatology about 45% of their 1,000+ respondents believed that sun tanning was safe, along with other popular tanning myths?

Almost half of the whole respondent population thought that getting a tan would be safe for as long as the skin doesn’t burn and that applying a base tan decreases skin cancer risks. 

But it didn’t stop there! The results of the survey also found that 39% of the respondents were unaware of sunburn risks. They believed that you wouldn’t get a sunburn if you stepped outside and it was cloudy.

With all of these myths still circulating, it’s important to set the record straight and debunk these popular tanning misconceptions. So, in order to clear things up, we’re here to debunk some of the most common tanning myths. 


Debunking Tanning-Related Myths


Fiction #1: “Sun tanning is always safe.”


Fact: According to board-certified dermatologist Elizabeth Bahar Houshmand, MD, FAAD, a tan is our skin’s response to injury. So with sun tanning and tanning beds, our skin is intentionally damaged in order to produce more pigment (melanin) to protect us from future UV damage.

Tanning beds are especially dangerous because the UV rays emitted from one can be up to 10 times more intense than the sun. This high level of UV exposure can be very damaging to the skin and increases your risk for developing skin cancer.

A good alternative is airbrush tanning. This method of getting tanned uses Health Products and Food Branch (HPFB)-approved Dihydroxyacetone (DHA) as the active ingredient to create a tanned look without any UV exposure. 

There aren’t any known, scientifically-proven health risks associated with organic airbrush tanning, making it an ideal option for those who want to avoid the sun altogether.


Fiction #2: “Skin cancer doesn’t affect dark-skinned people.”


Fact: Skin cancer can affect anyone, regardless of skin color. While it’s true that people with darker skin have a lower risk of developing skin cancer, they are not immune. In fact, the death rate for skin cancer in Central Africa is 2.26%—with New Guinea topping the list at 9. 28%.

People with darker skin are still at risk of getting sunburns and melanoma in the long run. Nobody is exempted.


Fiction #3: “I won’t be out in the sun long, and it’s cloudy anyway.”


Fact: UV rays can still pass through clouds, even if the accumulated clouds are thick. Clouds can absorb UV rays, especially the UVA and UVB rays that have long wavelengths, hence the ability to penetrate a person’s skin.

It doesn’t really matter how long you plan to be in the sun. You should always wear sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. 

And don’t forget to reapply every two hours, or more often if you’re swimming or sweating. Apply your sunscreen on the parts of your body that are not (or cannot) be covered with clothes.

You may also wear lightweight long-sleeved shirts, a wide-brimmed hat, or sunglasses with UV protection.

Fiction #4: “My car’s windows are tinted. I can’t get skin burns while waiting inside my car.”


Fact: As much as 80% of the UV rays can still pass through your car’s windows, depending on the window tint. The darker the window tint is, the higher the level of UV protection it provides.

However, regardless of how dark your windows’ tint is, it does not guarantee a hundred percent protection from the sun’s rays, especially if you’re exposed to this while inside a car for a long time.

Fiction #5: “Sun tanning and tanning beds are the ONLY way to get tanned!”


Fact: There are other ways to get a glowing tan in a safer, healthier way.

There are self-tanners, spray tanning, organic airbrush tanning, and tanning lotions–all can give you the same look as sun tanning or using a tanning bed, minus the harmful effects of UV exposure.  Some of these you can do at home, while others can be done by professionals in a salon. Either way, these are safe options to achieve a healthy glow.

Some of our favorite home tanning products to use here at Vanity vault are the SunnaTan Hydrate Me Gradual Tanning lotion or SunnaTan Colour Me Dark


Vanity Vault - Tanning Facts & Fiction: Debunking Tanning Myths - 1


Fiction #6: “I can get the same benefits from a tanning bed as I do from the sun.”


Fact: This is not true! Tanning beds emit UV radiation that is extremely intense than the midday sun. Regular sessions in a tanning bed can increase your risk of skin cancer. And, of course, sun tanning is no better—it still exposes you to UV radiation that can cause skin damage, premature aging, and skin cancer.

So if you’re looking for a safe and healthy way to achieve a glowing tan, sunless tanning is still the best way to go.


Fiction #7: “Tanning works as an anti-aging treatment.”


Fact: OK, we get where this one is coming from. A healthy, sunkissed glow does tend to make people look younger and healthier. But the truth is, the act of tanning actually speeds up the skin aging process.

The UV radiation from the sun (or a tanning bed) damages the skin cells’ DNA, causing the skin to age prematurely. This can lead to fine lines, wrinkles, and other visible signs of aging.


Enjoy That Youthful Glow Safely With the Vanity Vault!


There is plenty of conflicting and downright false information out there about tanning. But you don’t have to worry about that here at Vanity Vault.

The Vanity Vault offers a professional and safe way to get your skin tanned: through organic airbrush tanning.

We only provide you with honest, accurate information about our products and services so that you can make the best choices for your health and beauty. So, if you’re trying sunless tanning for the first time or not, we are more than happy to help! Set an appointment or shoot us a message to get started!

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