With summer upon us, achieving that perfect sun-kissed glow becomes a priority for many. While sunbathing might seem like the traditional route, spray tanning offers a convenient alternative. But which is better for your skin? Let’s dive into the pros and cons of spray tanning versus sunbathing. Plus, let’s explore the dangers of UVA and UVB rays, especially during longer summer days. 

Traditional Sunbathing 

Sunbathing has been popular for achieving a tan for centuries. Many people enjoy the process of relaxing in the sun, feeling the warmth on their skin, and gradually developing a golden hue. However, this traditional approach comes with significant risks, primarily ultraviolet (UV) radiation exposure from the sun. 

Understanding UVA/UVB rays 

UVA and UVB are both forms of light that the sun emits, but at different wavelengths. In fact, we can’t see UVA or UVB light the way we can other forms of light. But that doesn’t mean they don’t affect us; in fact, these two types of light impact the skin in very different and often dangerous ways.  

  • UVA: Ultraviolet A light penetrates deep into the skin and is primarily responsible for premature aging, inflammation and the formation of wrinkles. UVA rays are present throughout the year and can penetrate through clouds and glass. 
  • UVB: Ultraviolet B light affects the outer layer of the skin and is the main cause of sunburn. UVB rays vary in intensity depending on the season, location, and time of day. However, they are strongest between 10am and 4pm especially during the summer months. 

The dangers of UVA/UVB exposure 

Prolonged exposure to both UVA and UVB rays can lead to serious health issues. These include: 

  • Skin cancer: UV radiation is a major risk factor for skin cancer, including melanoma, basal cell carcinoma, and squamous cell carcinoma. According to the American Cancer Society, skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States. 
  • Premature aging: UVA rays break down collagen and elastin fibers in the skin, leading to premature aging signs such as wrinkles, fine lines, and age spots. 
  • Eye damage: According to the National Eye Institute (NEI), UV rays can cause cataracts and other eye conditions, potentially leading to vision loss. 
  • Immune system suppression: Excessive UV exposure can weaken the immune system, says the EPA, reducing your ability to fight off infection. 

The Better, Safer Alternative: Spray Tanning 

In recent decades, spray tanning has emerged as the alternative to sunbathing due to its popularity and safety. Spray tanning involves applying a fine mist of dihydroxyacetone (DHA) to the skin. This product reacts with the amino acids on the skin’s surface to produce a temporary tan.

Advantages of spray tans 

The benefits of spray tanning over traditional sunbathing are considerable, first and foremost being the absence of UV radiation exposure. But let’s discuss a few others. 

  • No UV exposure: As mentioned before, the most significant advantage of spray tanning is that it provides a sun-kissed look without exposing skin to harmful UV radiation. This means no risk of sunburn, skin cancer, or premature aging. 
  • Instant results: Spray tanning offers almost immediate results, generally within 24 hours. This makes it excellent for spontaneous events or vacations. Plus, the application only takes a few minutes instead of hours like traditional sunbathing. 
  • Even coverage: When done professionally, spray tans can provide even and streak-free coverage. What does this mean for you? No tan lines! 
  • Customizable color: Spray tanning allows for customization of the shade, ensuring you get the perfect color for your skin tone. So even pale or fair skinned people can get a sun-kissed glow that is usually impossible with conventional sunbathing. 

Our favorite Treasure Valley spray tan salon

Island Glow offers custom organic spray tan services at their tanning salon located in Eagle. They specialize in giving their clients the perfect glow, customizing each tan based on skin type and desired results.

742 E State St. Suite 160
Eagle, ID 83616

Things to keep in mind regarding spray tans 

When it comes to spray tans, there are still some considerations and precautions to be mindful of.  

First, spray tans are temporary. Even professional applications typically last 10 days at most, depending on skin type and aftercare. Regular maintenance sessions are required to keep the tan.  

Second, you need to adhere to proper preparation and aftercare for the best experience. Exfoliate beforehand for an even application that sticks. And moisturize after to prolong your results. 

Third, professional application will ensure the best results. We recommend getting a spray tan from a professional spray tan technician at a reputable salon. You can go the DIY route, of course. However, at-home “spray tans” won’t be as even or long-lasting. 

Comparing costs 

When comparing the costs of sunbathing versus spray tanning, several factors come into play. 

Yes, lying in the sun is free. But if you think about the oils and sprays needed to “encourage” sunbathing results, then it isn’t as free. Plus, then when you consider the costs of skincare treatments to address sun damage, anti-aging products and potential medical expenses related to skin cancer, sunbathing doesn’t sound as cost-free as you expect. 

On the other hand, a professional spray tan session can cost anywhere from $25 to $75. Prices of course depend on the salon, location and any add-on services. Again, you can go DIY for a few bucks, but at-home products won’t deliver the same quality. Over time, the investment in spray tanning can add up, but it’s important to consider the long-term health savings and skin benefits. 

Making An Informed Decision Regarding Tanning 

It’s up to you whether you choose sunbathing or spray tanning. But consider the following: 

  • Health risks: The health risks associated with UV exposure are significant and should not be underestimated. Skin cancer, premature aging, and other UV-related damages are long-term consequences that can outweigh the immediate benefits of a natural tan. 
  • Skin type: People with fair skin, a history of skin cancer, or a family history of skin cancer should be particularly cautious about sun exposure and may find spray tanning to be a safer option. 
  • Lifestyle and preferences: Consider your lifestyle, how often you want to maintain your tan, and whether you prefer the natural sunbathing experience or the convenience of a spray tan. 
  • Sun protection: Regardless of whether you choose to sunbathe or spray tan, always use sunscreen with a physical SPF to protect your skin when spending time outdoors. Protective clothing, hats, and sunglasses are also essential. 

Achieving that coveted summer glow doesn’t have to come at the cost of your skin’s health. While sunbathing offers a cheaper, traditional route, UV radiation exposure makes it very risky. Spray tanning, on the other hand, provides a safer alternative with no UV exposure and customizable, instant results. 

Consider Spray Tanning for Bronze Skin Without the Risk 

As summer days grow longer and the desire for a tan intensifies, be sure to make an informed decision about how to achieve your glow. Prioritize your skin’s health. Consider spray tanning as a safer alternative, and always practice sun safety when outdoors. With the right approach, you can enjoy a beautiful, bronzed look while keeping your skin protected and healthy for years to come.