How to Stop Dark Skin From Tanning
Your risk of getting skin cancer from tanning is decreased if your skin is light brown, moderately brown, dark brown or black, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. However, skin cancer is a possibility for anyone who intentionally seeks out the sun, regardless of skin tone. Exposure to the sun's damaging ultraviolet rays also causes premature photoaging, even in people with dark skin; photoaging causes fine lines, deep wrinkles and leathery skin. If you have a naturally dark complexion, take thorough measures to protect yourself from the sun to prevent your skin from tanning.
Take a close look at your sunscreen's label. It should offer you protection against ultraviolet B rays–the rays that cause skin to burn–and ultraviolet A rays, the rays that make your skin tan. If you're not sure your sunscreen has the right stuff, the American Academy of Dermatology suggests looking for the following ingredients on your sunscreen's label: zinc oxide, avobenzone, cinoxate, titanium dioxide, ecamsule, sulisobenzone, menthyl anthranilate, octyl salicylate, octyl methoxycinnamate, oxybenzone and sulisobenzone.
Boost your UV protection. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration will adopt new labeling requirements that tell you how efficient your sunscreen is at blocking UVA rays in fall of 2010–currently, the sun protection factor, or SPF, on your product tells how well your sunscreen protects you from UVB. Until then, the AAD advises selecting a sunscreen with a SPF of at least 30.
Apply sunscreen correctly. Liberally apply the product to all areas of sun exposed to the skin at least 30 minutes before you go outdoors, rain or shine. UV rays can creep through cloud cover on overcast days. Make sure to reapply sunscreen every two hours, says the AAD, or anytime after you sweat profusely, get out of the water and/or towel off.
Stay inside or seek shade between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the sun's rays peak. If you're not sure of the time, take a look at your shadow; if it's shorter than you are, the sun is at its strongest, says the National Cancer Society.
Cover up. The NCS advises using protective clothing to further protect your skin whenever you go outside. Look for tightly-woven fabrics that are comfortable to wear. Add a wide-brimmed had that offers full shade to your face and sunglasses with at least 99 percent UV protection, and you're good to go.
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