Why Is Skin Tanning Dangerous?

by Robert Carver
applying sunscreen and tanning

Tanning is popular throughout the year; many men and women like to sport the sun-kissed look. Needless to mention that outdoor and indoor tanning is particularly popular during hot summer days. It is not uncommon for people to think that “regular” skin tan is harmless, which isn’t entirely correct. In fact, skin tan can be quite harmful to your delicate skin. If you’re planning to hit the tanning salon or to spend the summer sunbathing on the beach, this article is a must-read. Keep reading to get informed about the dangers of skin tanning and different ways to protect your skin.

Tanning speeds up the aging process

Did you ever wonder why fine lines and wrinkles start appearing on your face, especially around eyes, even though you’re in your 30s (or even younger)? Sun exposure is responsible for about 80% of wrinkles on your face according to a study whose findings were published in the Clinical, Cosmetic, and Investigational Dermatology. The research also discovered that 2% of the increase in skin damage could age your face by three years.

Exposing your skin to the sun just to get the tanned look leads to pigmentation, reduced skin elasticity, and degradation of skin texture. All these factors are strongly associated with premature aging. Outdoor and indoor tanning can make you look older and induce the formation of wrinkles, which is something you should take into account before you decide to get some tan.

Skin cancer

Okay, fine lines and wrinkles that show up on your face can be minimized with the help of top anti-wrinkle creams, but it takes more than that to tackle severe conditions such as melanoma. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, each year in the US more than 5.4 million non-melanoma skin cancer cases are treated. However, one person dies of melanoma every 54 minutes. It is estimated that 87,110 new cases of melanoma will be diagnosed in 2017. Although melanoma accounts for less than 1% of skin cancer cases, the vast majority of deaths due to skin cancer occur because of melanoma.

enjoying the summer sunOkay, then I’ll just opt for indoor tanning, it is a safer choice. Not really!

One of the most common misconceptions about the dangers of skin tan is that indoor tanning is safer, but the reality is different. The indoor tanning industry claims the hype about this type of tanning and melanoma makes no sense. However, a growing body of evidence shows otherwise.

For example, one study showed that indoor training is widespread in the US and it increases the risk of skin cancer, photoaging, and augments the risk of sunburn. Indoor tanners tend to spend more time outdoors thus increasing their UV exposure and further enhancing their risk of skin cancer, sunburn, and other types of sun damage.

Besides skin cancer, tanning can also lead to eye damage and immune system suppression.

Tanning is addictive

Although the connection between skin cancer and UV radiation is evident, tanning is more popular than ever. A desire to have a tan can also lead to addiction in some people. You’ve probably read stories about men and women who are addicted to tanning but didn’t believe them. Tanning is addictive similarly to other cancer-causing activities like tobacco use.

A study from the European Academy of Dermatology and Venerology discovered that dependence on tanning is firmly linked to other addictive behaviors. People who exhibited tanning dependence were six times as likely to be addicted to alcohol and three times as likely to suffer from SAD (seasonal affective disorder).

Exposure to UV radiation increases the release of endorphins or the feel-good chemicals which relieve pain and generate feelings of well-being. In some people, this could potentially lead to addiction.

There is no such thing as a safe tan

Skin cancer and other types of damage due to tanning are well-known, and we’re aware of them, but we also assume that just a little bit of tan is perfectly safe. Bear in mind that there is no such thing as a safe tan. Tanned skin is a result of damage to the skin cells and overproduction of melanin, a pigment that gives your skin that natural color.

Scientists agree that there is no degree of tanning that can be considered safe. This also applies to the popular “base tan” that people usually opt for hoping it will protect them from sunburn and subsequent damage.

Safe tanning tips

Although skin tan is just a result of skin cells damage, the chances are high you still want to get a little bit of tan before the summer. In order to avoid severe damage, there are different things you can do to make the tanning a safer activity. Here are a few tips that will help you:

  • tanning bedConsume foods that relieve inflammation, and best anti-inflammatory foods are fruits and vegetables, Omega-3 fatty acids, spices, dark chocolate
  • Avoid sunbeds
  • Apply sunscreen and reapply it regularly
  • Seek shade
  • Avoid overexposing your skin to the sun
  • Wear sunglasses and a hat
  • Invest in a good self-tan lotion


Sexy skin tan is what every girl wants, and it is also popular among guys. Although it may seem harmless, tanning is associated with skin cancer, eye damage, suppressed the immune system, and it speeds up the aging process. Indoor tanning isn’t a safer alternative as usually described.

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