Wednesday, March 13, 2013
The truth about your pre-vacation tan
Your legs have been hiding beneath layers of tights and cozy knee-high boots for months. Your stomach hasn't seen the sun since Labor Day. And now you're headed to Cabo in two weeks for spring break. It seems like common sense: The best way to protect yourself from a sunburn is to get a "base tan" from an indoor tanning salon before your trip.
Unfortunately, the benefits of getting a pre-vacation tan are a myth. Here's why: Getting a tan in the sun will only bump your skin's natural SPF up to about a 3 or a 4. Tanning indoors provides even less protection. Since dermatologists recommend a minimum of SPF 15 (or higher for us pale folks), the protection you get from a base tan is inadequate. Plus, researchers have found that people who use tanning beds before going on vacation have a false sense of security that their skin is protected, which ultimately results in more severe sunburns.
If you're worried about looking like a ghost when you get off the plane, get a spray tan before your trip. Treat yourself to a bottle of your favorite SPF 30 and re-apply diligently (especially after the pool). No sunscreen blocks 100% of UV rays, so even when using SPF 30, you'll still develop a little color if you're spending a lot of time on the beach. Don't let a nasty sunburn ruin your vacation. Eventually your tan will fade, but the sun damage won't.