Why a Holiday Tan Can Be Bad for Your Health

Dr Stefanie Williams
By Dr Stefanie Williams

Dr Stefanie Williams is Medical Director of European Dermatology London, a private dermatology clinic in London’s Harley Street and Kensington.

There was a time not too long ago when a tan was one of the most desirable holiday accessories you could wish for.

An ex-colleague, one of the most well know dermatologists in Germany, even used to keep a sun lamp in his office to ensure his tan was always topped up.

It was widely believed that a tan was nature's form of sun protection. So at the same time as showing jet setting credentials, it was also possible to get 'free' sun protection at the same time...

Sadly we now know this is not the case.... It depends on your skin type. If you have dark skin (e.g. you have African heritage) then your skin will contain eumelanin, which is the best type of pigment for UV protection.

On the other hand If you have fair skin, lying on the beach to earn that tan will create Pheomelanin. Pheomelanin is far less stable then Eumelanin and can even break down when exposed to UV rays generating free-radicals in the skin.

Why a holiday tan can be bad for your health
holiday tan can be bad for your health

So instead of providing sun protection, Pheomelanin actively contributes to UV induced skin damage.

The moral of this story is - always wear sun protection to avoid damage to your skin and premature skin ageing.

There are many sun protection products out there that vary in effectiveness.

If you want to read more, the experts at Consulting Room really know what they're talking about and have put together some sun protection FAQs just for you. 

If you have more questions, you can use the sun protection question feature to talk to our panel of trained medical experts. 

If you're keen to know more about sun protection right away then you're in luck - those clever folks also have a list of trusted, accredited sun protection clinics in your area.

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