The Science Behind Your Sunburn
“My burn always turns into a tan” are some famous words I have heard over the years. And though this may seem like a good thing, it’s important to understand why this happens! Keep reading to learn about sunburns and how they affect your skin long term.
Hey everyone and happy July! You wouldn’t know it’s summer because it’s down pouring here. Today we are going to talk about a topic that most people have experienced, but we are going to dive into how your body defends itself against the sun, and what is actually happening in your skin when you get a sun burn.
WHAT IS A SUN TAN?
A sun tan is the result of the body’s natural defense system to protect you against UV rays. When you are soaking up the rays, your skin produces more melanin to absorb the UV light and converts it as heat. You could say melanin is your skin’s natural sunscreen. Someone with darker skin is more protected from the sun than someone with lighter skin therefore they would be more protected from burning, however the sun emits two rays which are both harmful. UVB = burning rays and UVA = aging rays.
WHAT IS A SUN BURN?
A sun burn occurs when this natural defense mechanism becomes overwhelmed. When this happens your DNA and molecules in your skin become damaged and this leads to inflammation in your skin which causes the painful redness. Your body is essentially delivering its blood to the damaged area.
WHY DO I PEEL?
Your skin begins to peel or slough off after a sun burn because your body is once again protecting itself and is saying “goodbye” to what could turn into cancerous cells. That is why the risk of skin cancer or melanoma is so much higher for people who have experienced multiple sun burns in their life.
WHY DOES IT TURN INTO A TAN?
Please understand that 1) There is no guarantee that your skin will tan after burning and 2) that this is not the best process for your body to go through.
This is once again your body’s defense mechanism just producing melanin because it has been damaged so badly.
How do I tan safely?
- Use SPF! We recommend a broad-spectrum sunscreen.
- Reapply SPF!
- Build your tan up gradually.
- Change positions if you are laying in the sun.
- Get a spray tan!