Several medical studies have proved that tanning is beneficial to the human body. The major benefit is the strengthening of the bones. That is, the absorbed ultraviolet radiation activates substances in the skin the much needed vitamin D, and vitamin D is important in making the bones tough.
There is, however, another documented benefit of tanning. Tanning helps the skin protect itself from further exposure to ultraviolet radiation. This was reported in the September 1999 issue of the Journal of Investigative Dermatology. The report was authored by Dr. Barbare A. Gilchrest and Dr. Mark S. Eller. Both worked at the Department of Dermatology at the Boston University School of Medicine.
The journal report stated five important points:
1. The UV radiation produces the protective melanin pigments.
Why are melanin pigments considered protective? The melanin in the skin helps the body expel excess energy from further ultraviolet exposure. The excess energy can cause harm but, with the aid of melanin, this is removed from the body in the form of heat. The melanin can also deactivate the free radicals, which are infamous for their destructive action on the body.
2. Tanned skin prevents UVR injury.
Related to above findings, the authors reported that a tanned skin is less prone to blisters and sunburn. Blisters and sunburns are UVR damages that a skin sustains when the skin can no longer tolerate the UV it receives. A tanned skin has a higher tolerance of UV rays. Thus, having a tanned skin is similar to wearing a sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor of 3-5.
3. Tanning provides photo-protection.
When a person undergoes the tanning process, the stratum corneum layer of his skin is considerably thickened. With this thicker layer, the skin becomes less sensitive to the ultraviolet radiation. Such is called photo-protection. A person with pale white skin may not attain the dark olive color that he desires but his stratum corneum has achieved a certain thickness that gives him photo-protection.
4. Tanning elevates the skin’s repair capacity.
One of the greatest fears of people when they face tanning is the disease called skin cancer. But skin cancer only happens when a person abuses the tanning process. That is, he stays in the tanning bed longer than what is recommended by the manufacturer or the tanning salon professional.
Skin cancer happens when too many damaged and abnormal cells are produced. With gradual and responsible tanning, the skin’s capacity to repair itself is actually enhanced. When the skin repairs itself, it gets rid off abnormal cells and fixes damage cells.
5. Both natural tan and acquired tan gives the same skin protection.
All the above-described protection obtained from a tanned skin is not limited to a natural tan. An acquired tanned skin can also provide the same protection.