How to Stop Getting a Tan

Exposure to sunlight causes the skin to tan.
Exposure to sunlight causes the skin to tan. (Image: Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

For the average person who spends a majority of the day working indoors, preventing the skin from tanning is relatively simple. While avoiding excessive amounts of sunlight does help reduce the risk of skin cancer, some exposure to the sun is actually beneficial. The ultraviolet B rays in sunlight cause the body to make vitamin D, which is essential for strong bones.

Wear clothes to protect the skin underneath them from tanning. Loose, white cotton items are preferable in hot or humid environments. Wide-brimmed hats help prevent the sun’s rays from reaching the face, as do parasols. An increasing number of manufacturers are producing clothes made from fabric rated for its level or protection from UV rays. This rating is known as Ultraviolet Protection Factor and measures both UVA and UVB.

Avoid direct exposure to sunlight for prolonged periods. The sun is at its strongest between 11am and 3pm, so stay indoors or find shade between these hours. For those concerned about vitamin D production, spending 15 minutes per day in the sun outside of these hours is sufficient for the body to keep its levels up.

Avoid large expanses of water and snow. Both of these reflect sunlight and contribute to the tanning process; So cover up if you’re boating or skiing. Also bear in mind that the air is thinner and cleaner at higher altitudes, meaning that the risk of tanning is also greater in the mountains. A number of sportswear manufacturers produce lightweight, breathable clothing that helps protect the wearer from the sun.

Avoid equatorial countries, if possible. Throughout the year, the sun is the strongest nearer the equator. Take added precautions when visiting tropical countries such as the Bahamas, Costa Rica, Hawaii and Thailand. Even in northern climes, it’s worth wearing sunscreen during the day.

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