Tanning is a natural process that involves the production of melanin by the skin to protect it from sunburns.
However, there is no doubt that tanning offers several other advantages as well. Many people prefer tanned skin since it looks more attractive, which helps them feel more confident. That is why, in modern times, multiple tanning methods have been developed for the perfect tanned look.
These include smoke tanning, vegetable tanning, chromium tanning, and more, but all methods require using ultraviolet or UV radiation, though the UV level may vary.
And electing the right UV radiation is essential not only for effective tanning, but it also keeps you protected from harmful sun exposure. Today’s guide has been created to help you know about the best UV for tanning that can provide fast, safe, and effective results.
Important Tanning Concepts
The UV Index
Learning about the UV index is important to understand the process of tanning. The UV index measures the intensity of the ultraviolet radiation which reaches the ground. It is very useful in knowing about the amount of time for which people can stay out in the sun before needing to apply sunscreen.
This index is used to gather information regarding the strength of the ultraviolet rays in a specific location and is measured from 0 to 12. A reading of 0 means that there has been no exposure to UV rays, while a reading of 12 indicates maximum exposure.
These index numbers are calculated by measuring the erythemal ultraviolet radiation at wavelengths from 280 to 400 nanometers. Rays with a measurement of 0 to 2 indicate least risk from exposure and require minimal sun protection, while those with a measurement of 3 to 5 indicate moderate danger.
Similarly, UV rays with a measurement of 6 to 7 indicate high risk of sun exposure, and those with a measurement of 8 to 10 mean very high risk. Rays measuring beyond 11 indicate extreme risk due to the high UV index, leading to maximum sun damage.
Understanding UV Rays
Ultraviolet rays are electromagnetic waves having a wavelength shorter than that of visible light. The sun’s rays are the main source of UV rays, but these rays further contain different types of ultraviolet radiation. These rays are emitted by the sun in the form of light and heat, but most of them are blocked by the earth’s atmosphere.
UV rays can also be produced from artificial sources, like tanning beds and mercury lamps but too much exposure to UV radiation can damage the skin cells. Some of the common problems associated with such exposure include cataracts, premature skin aging, vision problems, and skin cancer. So, it is important to take certain measures for protection during the tanning process, which we will discuss later.
Best Ultraviolet Radiation Index For Tanning Purposes
At this point you might be wondering which UV index is best for a sun tan?
Rays with a higher UV index can result in faster tans, but this index should not be over 5 as that can make the skin sensitive and cause burns. This means that the best UV index for tanning lies between 3 and 5, depending on your skin type.
As mentioned before, ultraviolet rays are made of several types of UV radiation, including UVA, UVB, and UVC rays. For effective tanning, both UVA and UVB rays are needed by the skin, each playing a different role.
The UVA rays perform the function of darkening the pigment cells present in the skin, while the UVB rays help in the production of these pigment cells. For ensuring safety while tanning, it is recommended to use only moderate tanning indices, such as those ranging from 3 to 5.
Another important factor that can affect the tanning process is the time you spend out in the sun. Spending more time soaking up sun rays can make the tanning process faster and more effective, but the risk of sunburns is also higher.
Tanning Under Various Indices
UV rays with an index of 1-2 are ineffective for tanning purposes since the skin does not get enough exposure. This means that the tanning process can take up to 60 minutes when using such rays.
Similarly, tanning with UV radiation that has an index of 3 will not provide very effective results. There will be little or no tanning with such rays, and the process can take up to 45 minutes.
But tanning with a UV index of 4 is possible, despite it taking longer, as the risk level is quite low, and problems like skin burns do not occur. In contrast, tanning with an index level of 6 can result in significant exposure and may cause skin burns in only 15 to 20 minutes.
Risks Associated With Tanning
The most common risks associated with both indoor and outdoor tanning include the following:
- Premature and accelerated aging
- Development of fine lines and wrinkles
- Development of brown spots on the skin
- Conditions like cataracts, skin cancer, etc.
Safety Tips For Tanning
Here are some safety tips you should observe while tanning:
1. Using The Right Sunscreen
Using the right sunscreen is crucial to get a proper tan without exposing yourself to associated risks. According to dermatologists, you should wear sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or more or use a tanning lotion daily for maximum protection.
Apart from that, it should be a broad-spectrum sunscreen that is waterproof for effective sun protection against both UVA and UVB rays.
2. Consider Your Skin Tone
Using the right sunscreen is vital, but it should be selected keeping in mind your particular skin type and tone. Those with fair skin should select a sunscreen with a lower SPF since such skin types burn very easily. A sunscreen with a lower SPF will provide protection even at low levels, which is not needed in the case of people with darker skin.
But in both cases, measures should be taken to protect the skin from damage, as not all types of skin damage can be reversed. And those that can generally involve costly professional treatments.
3. Tanning At The Right Time
While it may seem like the most effective tanning will take place when the sun is strongest, this can do more harm than good. Exposing yourself to UV rays during peak hours can increase the risk of sunburn.
That is why you must avoid tanning during those hours and the best time will depend on various factors, such as your skin type, location, and altitude.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Do you tan better at a higher UV?
It is a common misconception that a higher UV exposure will result in a better tan. In reality, it is possible to get a good tan even at a low UV index, while relying on radiation with a higher UV will only increase the risk of sunburn.
2. What are some ways to reduce UV exposure?
Wear protective clothing and sunglasses to reduce UV exposure or try using sunscreen. It is also a good idea to use an umbrella or a parasol when going outside.
3. How is tanning affected by UV rays?
UV rays directly affect the amount of melanin produced in the body, which determines the level of tanning. This means that the level of tan will depend upon the intensity of these rays.
4. How much time will it take to tan with a UV index of 9?
Tanning with a UV index of 9 is not recommended since it can result in premature aging and cause damage to the skin. This damage takes place when the DNA structure of your body is altered, which can cause various diseases, like skin cancer, later on.
5. What is the shadow rule?
The shadow rule was developed for people to determine how long they should stay in the sun for tanning purposes. According to this rule, it is a good idea to stay out of the sun if your shadow is shorter than you. This is because when shadows grow shorter, it means that UV rays are at their strongest and cause skin burns.
While tanning may help you get a more attractive-looking body, the process has many associated risks. Overexposure to UV rays can not only cause skin burns but also put you at risk of diseases like skin cancer.
That is why it is important to know about the right UV indices which are suitable for tanning, while taking adequate precautions. These include using the right sunscreen lotions, wearing protective clothing, and limiting the time spent in the sun.
So, before heading out to get that sun-kissed look, make sure to check these points for the safest and most effective results.