Sun Tanning Is Not A Good Idea—And It Needs To Go

In: Staying in the shade. Out: Baking in the sun. 

In Australia, sporting a sun tan could be considered a beauty ‘ideal’. Culturally, our nation’s identity is inextricable from our beachy behaviours and, at some point, this leaked into our beauty standards.

While an obsession with a sun tan could be critiqued on multiple fronts (particularly the presumption of whiteness that often comes with the idea), today, we’re talking about a pretty important one: safety.

Given our nation’s alarming rates of skin cancer, it’s beyond imagining why anyone would consider lounging in the sun as a good idea.

Recent research conducted by Cancer Council found Australians continue to operate under a number of major misconceptions around sun tanning and its perceived aesthetic appeal. For instance, it found 1 in 3 young Australians (aged 18-30) think sun tanning is fine for people of their age, and that most 18-30 year-olds ‘desire a suntan’.

Here, we took some of the opinions you might have heard from your friends, and did a little correcting of our own…

Image: Getty

A Sun Tan Does Not Make You Healthier

Contrary to popular belief, a suntan is not a sign of good health. In fact, it’s an indication of sun damage. 

UV damage is the single biggest factor in determining the appearance and health of your skin.

Australia has the highest rates of skin cancer in the world. Sun protection, including wearing SPF, a broad-brimmed hat, protective clothing and staying in the shade, should be applied especially when the UV index is 3 or above — which, in Australia, is most of the year.

You Don’t ‘Look Better’ With A Sun Tan

Even if you find yourself thinking this is true (it’s not), perhaps it’s not your natural skin tone that’s the problem. Instead, it could be time to review your colour palette. TikTok is obsessed with ‘colour analysis’ and the act of choosing your wardrobe around the colours which look best with your natural features and skin tone.

Experts in the field of colour analysis will encourage you to pick clothes that embrace your natural features and skin tone — not alter your appearance to fit your clothes.

Image: Getty

Having A Sun Tan Is Not More Desirable

If you find yourself getting sucked into the belief that a sun tan equals beauty, it could be time to do a good purge of your social media feeds and diversify who you follow. There are plenty of body positive, sun safe influencers to add to your feed.

Avoid falling into the traps of cultural myths around beauty standards and instead embrace (and care for!) your natural features and skin tone.

As we know: suntanned skin is sun damaged skin. UV radiation accelerates the ageing process and also puts us at risk of cancer. You can feel confident and healthy in the skin you’re in, without a suntan. So, before you head out into the sun in the name of beauty, remind yourself of the risks of sun tanning and maybe find some shade instead. 

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