Experts: There really is no safe way to get a tan

Not what they had in mind.
Not what they had in mind.
Image: Reuters/Aly Song
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You might want to think twice about getting a tan. A health watchdog has warned there’s “no safe or healthy way” to get a tan from the sun.

The UK’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) gives a number of recommendations to minimize the risks and maximize the benefits of sunlight exposure in their latest guidelines, which clarifies a number of misconceptions—it warns that an existing tan provides little protection from dangerous exposure to the sun and it’s possible to burn in the middle of the day even if it is cool or cloudy.

There are some obvious benefits from exposure to sunlight, especially to British people—so devoid of sunlight in their everyday life that the government has told people to take supplemental vitamin D as a precaution. But the build up of vitamin D has to be balanced with the dangers of too much exposure to sunlight.

NICE advises that people spend a limited amount of time in strong sunlight and to protect themselves by seeking shade, wearing appropriate clothing, and applying sunscreen. It suggests using at least SPF 15 sunscreen.

Skin cancer is most common form of cancer in the US. Exposure from the sun is the “main potentially avoidable risk factor” for skin cancer, according to Cancer Research UK. It suggests this culture of sunbathing that is to blame for rising rates of skin cancer.

And if you’re thinking of turning to sunbeds—they’re not much better for your health.