Before sunbathing in either natural or indoor UV light, it is essential that you identify your skin type to only take exposure that is suited to you. Knowing your skin type is the best way to help reduce the risk of overexposure to UV light and enjoy the benefits of moderate exposure.
This question could be one of the most important questions of our generation, and one that has resulted in a lot of confusion.
The answer is a simple one!
The most important but often overlooked factor relating to how much or how little UV exposure you should receive is your skin type. Before you decide whether you should sunbathe or not, take the skin type quiz and read through the educational material on this site to make your decision an informed one.
This one is up to you, but either way, science has shown that vitamin D production is important to human health and that our primary source of vitamin D comes from our skin's exposure to UVB light. You don't actually have to get a tan to product vitamin D, so the decision to tan is up to you, but make sure you get enough UVB to maintain normal vitamin D levels. If you can't get into a tanning bed or outside in the mid-day sun, then make sure to take some vitamin D supplements.
Ultraviolet (UV) radiation comes from a variety of natural and artificial sources, including the sun, welding equipment, lasers, tanning equipment, and certain lamps. Serving many beneficial purposes, UV can be used to kill germs, treat various skin conditions, and is necessary for the formation of vitamin D3 in our bodies. As with all forms of radiation, however, there are risks involved with UV. Overexposure to UV has been attributed to the following negative health effects: sunburns, premature skin aging, skin cancer, eye problems, and the weakening of the immune system.Health Canada
A tan is created in the first layer of your skin; the epidermis. UVB light stimulates the cells called melanocytes to produce melanin which surround your skin cells (keratinocyte). These cells absorb UV light and protect the cell from overexposure. UVA light and oxygen turn the melanin brown to create a tan. A tan is not built in one day, this takes several days starting with a short period of exposure to UV light and increasing your time gradually.
Our "normal" skin is able to protect itself from the effect of overexposure to sun rays. In fact, a base tan will allow you to stay out in the sun 2-4 times longer than with no tan at all. The most important types of self-protection are:
If you decide to use a tanning bed, make sure to choose a professional tanning salon with certified, trained employees and who belong to a trade association.
Look for a "Joint Canadian Tanning Association (JCTA) Member" window decal.
These salons are also capable of providing a skin type analysis for you. They must have remote controlled timers and will create a tanning schedule specifically for your skin type. Indoor tanning is a controller environment and tanning equipment is regulated by Health Canada.
Use chemical sunscreen to avoid sunburn and overexposure as they are significant risk factors for skin damage. Using it everyday will unnecessarily expose your skin to some of the potentially toxic chemicals in chemical sunscreens, like oxybenzone.
Over use of chemical sunscreens may increase your risk of becoming vitamin D deficient. 80-90% of your natural vitamin D comes from UVB light.
"Sunscreens probably prevent squamous-cell carcinoma of the skin when used mainly during unintentional sun exposure. No conclusion can be drawn about the cancer-preventive activity of topical use of sunscreens against basal-cell carcinoma and cutaneous melanoma."
"Sunscreen had no effect on basal cell cancer"
"There are no direct data about the effect of sunscreen on melanoma incidence"
"Several epidemiologic studies have found higher risk for melanoma among users of sunscreens than among nonusers"