Suntans have not always been in fashion. Until early in the 20th century, the fashion was to have a pale skin. Only manual workers were associated with having a tanned skin and in those times it was not considered fashionable to be a manual worker.

Sometime around 1920 Coco Chanel first appeared sporting a suntan and look where we are today.

However, the tide for sporting a suntan is beginning to turn. In Australia, where skin disorders are more prevalent, it is becoming less fashionable to wear a suntan. As with all fashions, they do tend to run their course.

You may find it worth remembering: suntans do fade quickly, whereas the effects of overexposure to the sun can be long lasting.

In the meantime here are some suggestions regarding sun tanning:-

If you cannot tan – don’t try
Many people with lighter skin will never tan. Some people with lighter skin only tan after burning. You have to ask yourself ‘is it worth the risk?’

Never burn
Sunburn is the first sign of overexposure to the sun’s UV rays. This will damage your skin and may lead to other, more serious skin disorders.

Settle for a lighter tan
Don’t over do it, don’t rush to get a tan. The tanning effect takes several days to appear.
Allow for your tan to build gradually. The skin builds up natural defenses against the sun’s UV radiation but this does take time to take effect.

If you tan too quickly the damaging effects of the suns rays will overtake your natural defenses and this will result in damaging your skin.

Select an appropriate time to tan. Moderate sunbathing earlier in the morning and later in the afternoon, are the best times. Avoid sunbathing between the hours of 11am and 3pm, this is when the sun’s rays are at their strongest.

Caution: A suntan gained from sunbeds, or artificial tanning lotions will not increase the skins natural defenses against the sun.

To avoid sunburn you should take into consideration the following factors which increase your exposure to UV radiation:-

1) Latitude, the suns UV rays increase in strength the closer you are to the equator.

2) Altitude, Ultraviolet rays increase by approximately 4% to 5% with every 1000 feet above sea level

3) The season. The sun is naturally stronger in the summer months, remember different parts of the world have different seasons. When we have Christmas here in the UK we are in the winter months, whereas at the same time in Australia for instance, they are in their summer months

4) Reflection: various surfaces reflect the sun’s rays. Here are some examples; snow reflects about 80 to 85%, sand 20 to 30%, concrete 10 to 15%, painted areas, depending on their colour and water, depending on the angle of the sun, will reflect a good proportion of the suns rays.

5) Cloud: don’t be deceived by cloud. Up to 80% of the suns UV rays can penetrate clouds, depending on how thick and how dark they are. Remember it is not heat that causes sunburn, heat comes from the suns infrared rays. Even when the temperature falls, like under cloud, UV rays still penetrate and reach the earth’s surface.

Important note: take special care when taking medicines. Some medicines, including those commonly used for acne and some antibiotics, can make skin more susceptible to sunburn and sun damage. Consult your doctor if you are taking any medicines for advice.