SUNBURN vs SUNTAN

Hello peeps! I have seen many people using the terms “sunburn” and “suntan” interchangeably thinking that they might actually mean the same…. which is absolutely a wrong notion..It actually depends on the skin complexion whether it is more prone to sunburn or suntan.Here’s a list of skin complexions with their respective vulnerability to burning or tanning..

Skin complexion Burn/Tan SPF recommended
Fair Burns maximally and tans minimally 40-50
Medium Burns and tans moderately 20-40
Dark Burns minimally and tans maximally < 20

Also read:

Mineral (physical) sunscreen vs Chemical sunscreen

Now, the question is what is the difference between the two?

Tanning: Our skin has melanocytes ( melanin producing cells; P.S. melanin is a brown pigment that determines the skin complexion… More the melanin production, darker is the skin complexion ).. Now in case of tanning, when our skin is exposed to sunlight,then the melanocytes produce more melanin as a result of which our skin tone gets darker. Now, this is a good thing, because the brown pigment can help to protect the skin from some of the sun’s damage.Thus this layer of tanned skin cells acts as a protective layer to prevent further damage . Here, by “damage” I am talking about the UV rays. UV radiation penetrates the tissues of our skin and can mutate the DNA of our cells. Our bodies are usually good at repairing any DNA damage, but lengthy and/or regular exposure to UV can cause more damage than the body can cope with. If mutations in the DNA are left unchecked, this may change the way in which the cells behave, and they can become cancerous.

Burning: Burning is completely different from tanning.We can get to know that our skin is burnt when our skin turns red and sore/swelled on exposure to sunlight. Sunburn is a sign that the top layer or layers of the skin have been damaged beyond repair.

 

In a nutshell:

  • Fair skin tone is most vulnerable to the damage caused by sunlight.
  • Dark skin tone is least vulnerable to sun damage and skin cancer but the tendency of getting tanned eventually results the skin tone to turn even darker..(Now I would call it a pro rather than a con…at least you are on the safer side..your tanned layer of skin is a protectant)
  • Burnt skin is not going to get brown (tan) on its own.So,if someone is very fair,then it is not a good idea to try “sun-bathing” in order to actively get his/her skin burnt in the hope that it will “go brown” eventually.
  • Your burning (or even to some extent tanning ) of skin can’t be reversed unless the top layer of your skin is peeled off i.e. your skin regenerates with time.
  • Last but not the least… sunlight stimulates the production of vitamin D which is required for good bone health.So, a little exposure to sun is necessary!

Cheers to all dark-skinned beauties!

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