I hear the argument that a tan is skin damage and that a base tan is a myth. Well, I would like to say that given my personal experience, there are advantages to having a base tan. Before I started tanning I burned when I was in the sun more than 10-15 minutes. It was awful. I couldn’t do anything outside without a hat, shade or some kind of cover. Now, I can be outdoors without worry for hours. Tell me that isn’t an improvement in my life.
Prime example of how a base tan protects you from burning. A while back I went to tan and forgot I didn’t have my clothing I normally wear to tan. Sorry folks, I don’t do it in the buff…mostly so I could gauge if I was getting color. I am so fair you really can’t tell that I have a tan without actually seeing the contrast of my tan line. Anyway, I just went ahead and tanned in what I had and later that evening I noticed that the top I wore was cut a little lower than what I normally would wear under my arms. I knew that because I had a small strip of pink where the skin didn’t have a base tan. It wasn’t a bad burn, just a little pink, but it made it abundantly clear that the base tan I had been working on was protecting my skin.
Again, burning is skin damage. I burned easily before starting this tan project. Within just a few months, by building up my tolerance of UV through the controlled environment of a salon, I was able to walk 5k walks on sunny days without any burn. I started tanning late February 2012 and my first 5k walk was in April. Then at least once a month I did a 5k throughout the summer. A 5k takes me about an hour to complete, and then I usually hang around afterwards to enjoy the festivities for 30 min to an hour. The base tan was protecting me from burning.
To give an example for you to compare what it was like for me before. A few years ago I attended a funeral in April. There was a graveside service that lasted about 15 minutes. There was no shade so I had to just stand there in the sun and hope it wouldn’t last long. I could feel my skin getting hot and it was uncomfortable. I ended up with a burn on my face, chest, and the top of my feet that lasted for several days. That was just from 15 minutes of exposure. Now, that doesn’t mean I CAN’T burn, I am still careful to pay attention to how my skin feels when I am in the sun. Too much sun, even with a base tan, can and will burn and damage your skin. Know your limits and protect your skin from burning with a reasonable SPF when you will be exposed for an extended amount of time.
So when you hear a dermatologist say that tanning is damaging to your skin, remember, tanning is the body’s natural response to UV exposure, and a base tan does, in fact, protect your skin from burning.