The Myth Of The Base Tan, Debunked!

by Gio
base tan myth debunked

Should you get a base tan before you head off to your beach holiday?

Rumour has it that a base tan can prevent sunburns. Plus, you’ll arrive at the beach looking like a bronzed goddess already. What could go wrong?

EVERYTHING. The base tan myth is just a myth. Far from protecting you from sunburns, a base tan increases your chances of cancer. Here’s why:

Can A Base Tan Protect you From Sunburns?

Every myth has a grain of truth. In this case, it’s indeed true that a base tan provides some sun protection. As much as a sunscreen with SPF 3-5!

That’s like, nothing. You may just as well not have bothered. If you want to increase your sun protection, this ain’t the way to go about it.

Related: 7 Ways To Protect Your Skin From The Sun

How effective is your sunscreen? Sign up to the newsletter below to receive the “Sunscreen Audit” Worksheet and find out if your sunscreen is really up to the job:

The Truth About A Base Tan

Thank that bronzed, tanned skin is healthy? Think again.

Truth bomb: there is no such thing as a safe tan.

It doesn’t matter if you get your tan from lying on the beach or in a tanning bed. A tan is your body’s self-defence mechanism against UV rays.

When UV rays hit your skin, they damage the DNA in your skin cells. These cells then signal your body to produce melanin as protection from the harmful effects of UV rays.

But that’s not an excuse to stay in the sun. Just because your body is upping its defences, it doesn’t mean you should keep damaging it!

Quite the opposite, my smart friend. By the time your body’s reacting with a tan, the damage’s already’s done.

Put another way, a tan is always a sign of damaged skin. If you see your skin getting darker, get out of the sun, pronto. And top up your sunscreen while you’re at it.

P.S. Right now you may only see a beautiful tan, but all that damage WILL show up in the form of wrinkles and dark spots in a few years’ time. It may increase your chances of developing cancer, too Don’t risk it!

Related: A Tan Isn’t Worth Dying For

How Can You Enjoy The Sun Safely?

Don’t fret. You don’t have to spend the summer hidden indoors to protect yourself from sun damage. Phew!

You just need to take the appropriate precautions:

  1. Use a brod-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher. SPF 15 may be the minimum recommended by dermatologists, but in summer, it doesn’t hurt to use something more powerful. The higher the SPF, the better protected you are.
  2. Apply sunscreen generously before leaving the house, and then every 2 hours. Sunscreen doesn’t last forever. As it neutralises UV rays, it gets used up. Not to mention, all the sweating, swimming and towel drying can rub it off your skin easily. Apply a generous amount (1/4 of a teaspoon for the face and a small glass shot for the body) and touch it up frequently.
  3. Wear sun-protective clothes like broad-brimmed hats, UV-blocking sunglasses, and tightly woven, dark- or bright-colored clothes. You may feel weird at first, but trust me, you’ll age better than all your friends.
  4. Seek the shade between 10am and 4pm. That’s when the sun is strongest and does the most damage to your skin. Don’t let it happen!

Related: Take A Number: What Level Of SPF Is Right For You?

The Bottom Line

There is no such thing as a safe, healthy tan. A tan is ALWAYS a sign that your skin is damaged. Avoid tanning beds and pile on the sunscreen.

Did you fall for the base tan myth? Share your thoughts in the comments below.



Allison June 30, 2015 - 4:33 pm

It’s finally sunny and very warm today so I think I am going to go to the beach with my sunscreen and my sun hat! People always used to talk about getting a “base tan” or going to tanning beds to get a base tan before going to the Caribbean in the winter. Always sounded like hogwash, and of course, it was!

Gio July 1, 2015 - 5:31 pm

Allison, it’s a shame that so many people believed it, though, isn’t it? That did their skin no good.

I hope you enjoyed your day at the beach. 🙂

Kiss & Make-up June 30, 2015 - 5:53 pm

Seriously, does anyone still believe this? If so, that saddens me.

Gio July 1, 2015 - 5:32 pm

Melissa, sadly some still do. It’s very sad indeed. 🙁

audrey March 8, 2017 - 4:08 am

I live in Asia and here they actually prefer ghastly pale skin, i also don’t understand why they don’t like their naturally tan complexion (which i think is very beautiful!) and therefore tanning beds are not popular, i have yet to find it here! So glad they are non existent when i grew up, because if i knew there’s tanning beds i probably will try it because even for Asian standard i am too pale (i am more like a Scandinavian pale even though i’m 100% Asian)

Gio March 9, 2017 - 6:24 pm

Audrey, glad to hear you don’t have it there. It’s one less danger to think about. All skintones are beautiful, there’s no need to darken or lighten them. 🙂

audrey March 10, 2017 - 4:48 am

Agreed. I would have done so much more harm to my skin if they have tanning salons here. They are improving a lot in terms of role models and influencers now, they don’t just use light-skinned models on TV commercials, they also started using models depper skin complexion, which most Indonesians have. So glad the time has changed and we can all love our complexion unconditionally.

Gio March 14, 2017 - 8:11 pm

So glad to hear that, Audrey! All skin tones, races, body types etc should be represented in the media all the time.

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