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Personal Grooming Tips: Suntan vs. Spray Tan

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By Ken Ryan

Tanning doesn’t just make men look better—it makes them feel better, too. In fact, scientists believe that tanning causes a subconscious effect that makes us feel healthier, more active, and more attractive. If you look good, you feel good; it is a powerful aphrodisiac for self-confidence.

On the other hand, radiation from the sun, tanning beds, and even nail-drying lamps all contain UV rays, and UV rays are the biggest known contributor to the development of melanomas and other skin cancers. What’s more, research indicates some methods used to achieve a tan are unsafe and cause issues such as premature aging.

With that said, tanning in all its permutations continues to be a popular enhancement procedure for men for its ability to deliver that healthy glow.

Salute culled the following tanning tidbits to help readers get the tanned look without UV exposure.

Spray tanning pros

Your skin health and appearance will benefit in the long run with spray tans. That’s according to Beth Buchbinder, MD, senior physician at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. Unlike sun tanning, spray tanning can be completed within minutes and won’t take up an entire day, nor does it have to be done during certain hours.

Cons of getting a ‘fake’ tan

The main active ingredient in self-tanners responsible for producing the desired golden- brown appearance is a compound called dihydroxyacetone (DHA). While DHA is FDA approved for safe topical application, your lung health may suffer if you inhale the aerosols from a spray tan. The aerosols in the products can further exacerbate issues for people with lung conditions such as asthma, experts warn.

In addition, the National Institutes of Health’s service reported that DHA fades within a week in most people as dead skin cells are shed. As a result, this can translate into an expensive venture for a prolonged tanned look.

Benefits of sun tanning

The risks of too much sun exposure are welldocumented.

However, high doses of vitamin D — when exposed to sunlight, our skin turns cholesterol to vitamin D— have been shown to help prevent certain common ailments and diseases.

Sun exposure helps the body make vitamin D naturally. This vitamin is essential; however, many people don’t get enough of it. Experts say that vitamin D can be difficult to get from food alone. It exists in certain fish and egg yolks, but most of it is consumed through fortified products like milk. Supplements are also available.

The benefits of sunlight and vitamin D include better sleep, stronger bones, boosted immune system, and reduced depression. According to research, sunlight triggers the brain to release the hormone serotonin, which can boost mood and promote feelings of calm. Even without depression, spending time in the sunshine will likely boost mood.

Risks of sun tanning

Sunbathing isn’t without its risks, of course. Too much time in the sun can lead to sun rash, sometimes called heat rash, which is red and itchy. Sun exposure can also lead to sunburn, which is painful, may cause blistering, and can affect all parts of the body.

Polymorphic light eruption (PMLE), also known as sun poisoning, can happen as a result of too much time in the sun. It presents as red itchy bumps on the chest, legs, and arms. Experts say the safest way to suntan is to use sunscreen to help protect your skin against too much damage from UV rays. Use at least an SPF 30 level sunscreen and reapply every 2 hours.

What to consider with tanning sprays

Tanning sprays are just one of a variety of sunless tanning products that temporarily darken the skin without the need to spend time in the sun. As with any product to be applied to the skin, consider the risk of irritation before administering a spray-on tan.

While sunless tanning lotions and creams may be difficult to regulate in order to get an even coverage across the body, sprays can be easier to manage, especially if a professional administers the tan in a salon or spa setting. The deeper skin hue does not appear immediately. Most people notice results within 24 hours of receiving their treatment.

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