Health & Wellness Blog

FAQs on Tanning Booth, Sunscreen Expiration Dates and Sunless Tanning

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Sunshine and the Lord:  
"Is as the light of the morning when the sun rises, A morning without clouds, When the tender grass springs out of the earth, Through sunshine after rain.'"
-2 Samuel 23:4 NASB

FAQs:  Tanning Booths, Sunscreen Expiration Dates, Sunless Tanning Lotions

It is so nice to welcome spring, blue skies and the sunshine. Having been inside most of the winter, some may say, “I Need A Tan, I Look So Pale”

By now, we all know the dangers of sun exposure and basking in the sun. Tanning can cause skin cancer, such as melanoma (the deadliest type of skin cancer), basal cell carcinoma, and squamous cell carcinoma. It can also cause cataracts and eye cancers (ocular melanoma).

 But, what about these common questions: 

  1. Are tanning beds now safe, “I am only going  in the tanning booth a couple of times to get a base.”  
  2. Do sunscreens expire?
  3. What about sunless tanning lotions, are they safe?

Tanning beds are not safe. Both UVA and UVB rays cause cancer. Tanning beds often exceed “safe” UV limits, despite the claims of the salon. Teens are at special risk because their bodies are undergoing such accelerated growth rates that their cells are more prone to the damage of the UV radiation. Salons may take the position that their tanning beds only make use of UVA rays, and tell you that they aren't quite as dangerous as UVB rays. Recent studies  have proven that UVA rays are even more of a cancer danger than previously thought.

Some salons try to persuade you that you need to get more vitamin D into your system, possibly even to prevent osteoporosis. While it may be true that you need more Vitamin D, the amount of time you need to spend in the sun in order to absorb Vitamin D is far less than is required for a tan. 

Do Sunscreen Expire: You probably have some sunscreen left over from last summer, is it safe to use? The FDA requires all sunscreens to be marked with an expiration date, unless the product has been proven to last at least three years. So unless your sunscreen bottle is stamped with a specific expiration date, you can assume its good for three years. If you buy sunscreen that doesn't have an expiration date, write the date of purchase on the bottle and be sure to throw it out within three years. However, you should use common sense to determine whether your sunscreen is expired, says Dr. Joshua Zeichner, a dermatologist at Mount Sinai Hospital in NY, “If a product does not look, smell or feel the way it when you originally purchased it, discard it.” Changes in consistency could signify that the product’s ingredients are no longer active. Even unopened sunscreen can lose efficacy over time! Kept in a garage or hot or cold place may affect its efficacy as well. Keep in mind that if you use sunscreen generously and frequently, a bottle of sunscreen shouldn't last long. 

Sunless Tanning Lotions: When used as directed, sunless tanning lotion is considered to be safe by most doctors and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), who has approved DHA for topical application to the skin. All sunless tanning products contain dihydroxyacetone (DHA), a sugar that is very safe to use. It interacts with proteins in the epidermis, the outermost layer of skin, to produce a darker skin color or fake tan. As dead skin cells slough off, the "tan" fades, usually within three to seven days after the product has been applied. Sunless tanners come in forms such as lotions, gels, sprays, or mousse and can be found at drugstores and department store cosmetic counters and on the Internet. However, DHA should never be inhaled or applied to mucous membranes like the nasal cavity. For more info on how to use them properly: 

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