Suntan inferno

Suntan inferno

Australians love a tan, which might explain why this country has the highest incidence of skin cancer in the world. Whether we’re strutting around in our bikinis on a beach or dancing shirtless at a club, the browner we are the more eyes cast our way.

But there are a lot of myths surrounding the dos and don’ts of tanning. For example, you can get sunburnt in a solarium, and it is best to cover your genitals.

RMIT University skin cancer researcher, Associate Professor Terrence Piva, said the real risk of skin damage and cancer comes from long-term exposure.

“Everyone is different and the risk factors vary with the individual – you can’t judge the safety level for anyone,” he said.

“Solariums differ from salons and it depends on if they’re using UVA or UVB light. Regardless of the light, long-term usage will increase the risks of skin cancer and potential wrinkle formation.”

When you do go to a solarium make sure you always use protective eyewear and understand the choice of lotions to prepare your skin and soothe it afterwards.

Cosmetic guru Napoleon Perdis says it is important to polish your skin before applying any tanning product to ensure an even and streak-free faux tan. Dry patches of skin will absorb more product than other areas of the body, so exfoliation is the key.

If you are using a mousse or spray it’s important to massage the product into your skin in a circular motion, ensuring the product is blended to avoid streaks. For a deeper tan allow products to set into the skin for 10 to 15 minutes.

A mousse needs three to four hours to develop to ensure a noticeable colour before showering.

Once your tan has developed, Perdis recommends using a tan enhancer. He said it is best to use one that moisturises the skin with olive oil, almond oil, shea butter or hazelnut. If you need to correct a mistake, Perdis recommends using an after-sun oil or bronze luminiser.

But in all instances – be it fake tans, solariums or sunbaking – it is important you understand the risk, read the labels where applicable and consult your doctor when you are unsure so you don’t end up looking like one of Willy Wonka’s Oompa Loompas.

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