Why Sun Tanning is Bad For You: 8 Dangerous Myths Busted


It's that time again. The winter is slowly receding, and sunshine is returning to our blessed land. People are thinking about vacations and wanting that healthy glow. But is it healthy?

Through this article, we intend to bust some myths about tanning. Read on.

Myth 1: Base Tan is Necessary

One of the most common myths that people have is the need for a base tan to avoid having any sunburn. This, according to healthcare experts, is a big mistake.

According to them, tan causes skin damage. The dark color appears because the melanin has been redistributed by the body to avoid any further damage.

Tanning not only damages your skin, but it also ends up damaging the DNA. Repeated tanning not only makes the skin darker, but it also makes it thicker and leathery.

So avoid that healthy tan as you can end up with more skin damage than you intended.

Myth 2. People Having Darker Skin Don’t Require Sunscreen

The second common myth that people have is the fair-skinned people will require sunscreen to avoid sun exposure. People with darker skin need not use the same.

This cannot be far from the truth. According to medical experts, any tan on the body indicates that there is damage at the genetic level and needs addressing.

This genetic damage can ultimately result in premature aging and the development of skin cancer. Genetic damage and subsequent damages to the skin do not differentiate between fair skin and dark skin.

Having a dark-toned skin does not imply that you can go ahead and get that tan. Even though dark-toned skin has melanin which does offer some protection, it does not provide enough protection from ultraviolet radiation.

People with dark-toned skin are still at risk of skin cancer as well as photoaging (premature aging).

Myth 3: Tanning is Necessary For Vitamin D

Sunshine is the primary source of vitamin D, and vitamin D is essential for having healthy bones.

People in the northern parts of the US have limited exposure to the sun during winter times, so they opt for having a tanning bed to boost their vitamin D levels.

But experts believe it is just a waste of time and money. It won’t do anything good for you. They argue that rather than benefitting, you are making yourself an ideal candidate for developing skin cancer.

One need not depend solely on the sun to boost up your vitamin D levels. You can increase your vitamin D levels by going for an appropriate diet and vitamin D supplementation.

Myth 4. You need to Worry Only About UVB Rays

UV rays are of two types – UVA and UVB. UVB is the villain here as it is associated with sunburn and various types of skin cancer. This has resulted in people believing that UVA is safe.

This is not correct. Both UVA and UVB are harmful. UVA rays result in photoaging, such as irregular skin texture and wrinkling, and UVB rays are more related to skin cancer. Neither UVA nor UVB is desirable.

Another myth related to UVA concerns the tanning bed. There is a belief that since tanning beds use UVA rays, they are safer. It is not true. Prolonged exposure to UVA can result in issues with skin DNA leading to the development of skin cancer in the long run.

Studies have shown that the melanoma risk increases by a whopping 35% with the use of a tanning bed. Those who use a tanning bed before they touch 35, increase the chances of cancer by nearly 75%. Also, indoor tanning has seen the development of more than 6000 melanoma cases every year in the US.

Myth 5. You Get That Healthy Glow Through Tanning Only

. Tan does give that glow. But there is no need to put yourself at risk for getting that result.

Few believe that a true suntan can only achieve a tanned look. This is not true. Advancements in skincare have resulted in the development of effective and sunless bronzers and tanners than is natural-looking.

The use of these products helps in not only getting that look but also helps in avoiding damage to the skin.

Myth 6. Tanning is Safe As Long As One Doesn't Burn

Many believe that as long as you are not burning, tanning is very safe. Nothing can be far removed from truth than this.

Any tan is the first step in developing skin problems in the future. Tanning can result in acute sunburns, which are not only painful but also increases the chances of melanoma. Tanning can also result in photoaging and increase the chances of the development of cancer.

People tend to ignore this fact because they are not visible today. Tanning does not result in any health benefits. If you want that tanned look, grab a self-tanning cream. It will be more useful.

Myth 7. Tanning Won’t Harm Kids and Teens

False. The earlier you start getting tanned, the higher the risk of damage to the skin and development of skin cancer.

Experts argue that teenagers who are spending hours getting tanned naturally or spending time in tanning booths are doing themselves great harm.

Given the rising concerns of the development of skin cancer, several states have passed legislation that either has banned or restricted the use of tanning booths by teenagers. These legislations require parental consent if a teenager wants to use a tanning booth.

While only 5 states passed legislation in 2009, as of 2018, 42 states have passed legislation that restricts the use of indoor tanning. Despite this, there are more than a million teenage Americans who have been using indoor tanning.

Myth 8. There is No Cause of Worry With Skin Cancers

Compared to other forms of cancers, a majority of the people think that skin cancer is not a big issue. This is far from the truth.

Most of us will know somebody in the family who has been diagnosed with skin cancer. In many cases, people will not have anything more than a scar. These tend to be ignored. But skin cancer is also one form of cancer.

Studies have shown that 1 in every 5 Americans will develop skin cancer at some point in their life. Skin cancer claims the life of one person every hour in the US. One cannot deny that skin cancer is an epidemic.

Experts state that the number of skin cancer cases being diagnosed by oncologists is far more than the combined number of all other cancers.


While tanning for some time can be useful, but following proper precautions and using creams that have adequate SPF is imperative if one wants to avoid any damage in the long run.
About author
Deepak Warrier
The author Deepak Warrier has more than 14+ years of experience in Medical Transcription and has good expertise in fact checking and presenting medical and health related information. He has rich experience in handling files prominently related to cardiology, psychology, and general medicine.

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