Like many people, you’d love to have that bronzed look but don’t want to expose yourself to harmful ultraviolet rays. With spray tanning and airbrushing, there are ways to get this attractive look safely.

The tanned look has been popular for decades and reached a new level of sophistication in the 1970s when tanning beds were invented. Many people found them a fast way to get an even, year-round tan. However, dermatologists soon became alarmed at the growing incidence of skin cancer and started educating the public about the dangers of overexposure to ultraviolet rays.

Some manufacturers of tanning beds promote the misconception that getting a base tan in a tanning bed will protect you from an even more damaging sunburn. But dermatologists agree there is simply no safe way to sunbathe or use a tanning bed.

 

Spray and airbrush tanning
Fortunately, there are safe alternatives. Most dermatologists consider spray and airbrush tanning as safe as applying makeup.

The active ingredient for sunless tanning, dihydroxyacetone (DHA), is derived from raw sugarcane and sugar beets, which reacts with the skin’s amino acids to produce color. This color develops three to four hours after application, deepens over the next 24 hours, and lasts one week to 10 days. A session usually takes 30 minutes or less and may be performed in a spray booth or with a handheld spray unit. Clients undress to their level of comfort; many wear bathing suits. The solution easily washes out of fabrics you wear to your session and generally does not rub off onto clothes.

You’ll still need to wear sunscreen, as spray and airbrush tanning don’t provide protection from the sun.

 

Help or hype?
It’s also helpful to know which sun protection aids on the market measure up to their claims. Following are a few products and procedures you may have heard about.

Some companies promote ingestible pills that purport to provide sun protection. Experts say there is insufficient scientific evidence to support these claims.

It’s also helpful to know which sun protection aids on the market measure up to their claims. Following are a few products and procedures you may have heard about.

Some companies promote ingestible pills that purport to provide sun protection. Experts say there is insufficient scientific evidence to support these claims.

There are bracelets that manufacturers claim will signal you when it’s time to apply more sunscreen or to move into the shade. Experts don’t consider these an adequate safeguard.

While some companies claim their contact lenses protect your eyes from ultraviolet rays, this is a little misleading since the entire eyeball needs protection. For best results, use a pair of comfortable wraparound sunglasses with an ultraviolet block and polarizing lenses.

Cellulose fabrics, like acetate and rayon, block some ultraviolet rays. Rit makes a product called SunGuard, a detergent you add into your washer, that significantly improves the sun protection factor of cotton clothes for about 20 washings.

For maximum safety, look for some combination of these ingredients in a sunscreen: avobenzone, mexoryl, oxybenzone, titanium dioxide, and zinc oxide. Your car windows are already protecting you from 50–75 percent of the sun’s rays. Film that rejects as much as 99 percent of ultraviolet rays can be applied to windows.

 

Waxing should be avoided while receiving acne treatments.