Sunscreens are important to wear while tanning if you want to avoid any damage to your skin. Sunscreens keep ultraviolet rays from penetrating the skin by either absorbing or reflecting the sun's rays. It is always a good idea to make sure you understand what the various SPFs mean so that you can make the best decision possible when determining what kind of lotion to use.
Lotions with a high SPF level contain Oxybenzone (or Benzophenone-3), a UVA absorber. Padimate is the most widely used UVA absorber and Parsol is a newer innovation that is highly effective at blocking the sun's rays. If you are using sunscreen, be sure to apply it 20 minutes before beginning to tan.
As a general rule, SPF 2 guards against approximately 50 percent of ultraviolet rays, an SPF 10 blocks about 85 percent of UV rays and an SPF 15 guards against approximately 95 percent of ultraviolet rays. Most health professionals will recommend using a lotion with an SPF 15 because they want you to block out most of the sun's rays.
Even if you want to use a tanning bed and don't want to use sunscreen on your body to get the darkest possible tan, you should still be aware that some parts of your body still need a product with SPF. For instance, you should always apply a product with the maximum SPF on your lips. Also, some parts of your body may be more affected by the sun than others, such as your nose and cheeks, and you might want to apply a stronger SPF product on these parts. Just because you want the ultimate tan, does not mean you should ignore sunscreens with SPF all together.
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|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|