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Tan Safely This Summer

Brown, Don't Burn

workoutMost of us have grown up with the ideal that a tanned skin is a healthy skin. But as good sometimes to remember that the process of turning as a process of burning or singeing the outer layer of our skin cells.

Our skin is designed to withstand some sun exposure, but when we get too much we experience the pain of sunburn and the discomfort of our skin peeling. Having this happen a few times in our lifetime normally presents no major problems, but when our immune system is compromised and a health generally below par, we are at increased risk of melanoma.

Some people of course extremely sensitive to the sun and must do all they can to limit exposure. But we do need some sunshine on our skin as it provides us with vitamin D. It's not a vitamin D many people think much about, but it helps the body to metabolise calcium and therefore keep our bones strong.

The Safeway to tan
Actually this method was proposed by Swami Yogananda almost a century ago; and that is to get naked in the morning sun before it gets too hot, or later in the day when it's cooled off.

In New Zealand, this means getting outdoors and getting naked, or as naked as you dare for an hour or so. By getting naked, you will get a nice even tan and that healthy complexion which is why most of us tan and the first place.

Sunbeds and cosmetic tans are not renowned for their safety and may be more dangerous than being out in the noonday sun. There has been much controversy with these products over the years and the self evaluating science regarding these products is unreliable.

Similarly, sunscreens are no guarantee of safety. Many sunscreens have been linked as causes of melanoma and other cancers.

Over tanning

When we over tan, the burning penetrates the surface layers of the skin and can begin to damage the deeper layers of skin and the mechanism for regeneration of skin cells. As you know, every day we have dead skin cells falling away and being replaced by new cells. This process helps to carry away dirt and bacteria, as part of our bodies defensive mechanism.

But when we over tan, this mechanism starts to break down and we experience premature ageing, or in more extreme cases the development of melanoma.

As the summer sun over New Zealand is particularly harsh due to the depletion of our ozone layer we do need to take care.  Remember that good care and self-preservation is more helpful than unnecessary suffering.

Further reading

Nude yoga
Why go natural?
Naked activities
Living the naked life
Our bodies in context
Sense and sensuality

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