Tanning with natural medicine

Natural medicine can offer a variety of remedies that help your skin face the sun. A tan can be attractive if the skin is adequately cared for.

Summer comes along and we want to show off a nice tan, but we need to be very careful in the sun. Too many hours spent sunbathing are harmful and extremely ageing.

A tan is the skin’s way of protecting itself from the sun’s ultra-violet rays. In the dermis (middle layer of the skin) melanocytes release melanin. Melanin is a substance that gives colour to the skin. It is produced from L-Tyrosine and copper.

When the ultra-violet rays reach the skin, melanin appears in the epidermis (outer layer of the skin). The melanin is deposited on the epidermis and is oxidised when it comes into contact with ultra-violet rays. This is the moment when melanin darkens the skin – this is the tanning process.

What do I need for a beautiful, long lasting tan?

Topical agents

Tan: SPF or sun protection factor

The SPF should be appropriate to each person’s skin type. SPF is calculated by determining the level of protection that the skin needs when it is exposed to UVB rays.  The SPF increases the amount of time that a person can be exposed to the sun without burning.

It should be applied 20 minutes before sunbathing. It should then be reapplied every half hour or after sweating or swimming. The skin’s natural absorption, together with moisture can dilute the SPF. We can tan even when we apply SPF.

There are some commercially available SPF sun creams that contain molecules that accelerate the tanning process (for example Bioderma).

Oral administration

Tanning; Carotenoids: beta-carotene and lycopene

Carotenoids such as beta-carotene and lycopene protect the skin from free radicals. They should be taken 2 months before sun bathing to prepare the skin for sun exposure. Carotenoids prevent erythema or sun burn.

Beta-carotene intensifies and prolongs the sun tan. The daily recommended dose of beta-carotene is from 10 – 30 milligrams. The daily recommended dose of lycopene is from 6 – 16 milligrams.

Vitamin E

The daily recommended dose of vitamin E is of 200 to 400 international units, to be taken with meals. Vitamin E is an anti-oxidant that protects the cell membranes. The ultra-violet rays deplete our levels of vitamin E.

Vitamin C

The recommended daily dose is of 1 to 3 grams a day. Vitamin C is most effective when it is combined with bioflavonoids. Vitamin C prevents skin ageing as it helps to build collagen and elastane. Vitamin C is an anti-oxidant that has the ability to reverse the negative effects that ultra-violet radiation has on the skin.

Bioflavonoids are powerful anti-oxidants that stimulate the bio-availability of vitamin C.

Polypodium leucotomos

Polypodium leucotomos is derived from a type of fern. P. leucotomos is a photo-immuno protector. It helps to preserve the immune cells that specialise in fighting skin cancer. It also avoids the erosion of collagen.

Polypodium leucotomos protects us from skin cancer that is caused by solar ultra-violet radiation. It reduces the reddening of the skin that happens when we sun bathe.

To sun bathe or not to sun bathe?

Sun bathing can be good for us in small amounts. Take many precautions, avoid the sun when it is at its hottest, re-apply your sun lotion every half hour, and drink plenty of water or juice – hydration is crucial. Check any medication that you are taking as it may increase sensitivity to the sun.

Keep your children out of the sun as much as possible. Their skin’s ability to protect itself from the sun decreases with each exposure.

Remember that excess exposure to the sun ages skin prematurely and causes skin cancer. Natural medicine can help you to prevent photo-ageing. Prepare your skin from the inside and out before sun bathing.

Foto: manwalk / Manfred Walker  / pixelio.de

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