Wondering what the UV (Ultraviolet) tanning index is? It’s a term we’ve heard thrown around a lot lately, but one that not everyone is familiar with.
What is the UV Tanning Index?
Although it’s sometimes referred to as the UV tanning index, it’s actually simply the UV Index – no “tanning” involved. The UV index is used to easily communicate how dangerous the UV radiation is at any given time. It’s on a scale from 0-11+ with 0 representing a very low level of radiation exposure, and 11+ representing the extreme levels. Regardless of the UV index you should always be protecting your skin. But whenever the index is high, it’s all that much more important that you do. UV radiation directly contributes to skin cancer and permanently damages your skin. So it’s always best to exercise caution and fully protect your skin even on days with a low UV index.
Why is the term “UV tanning index” misleading?
Adding the word “tanning” into the UV index is unnecessary and promotes a very dangerous habit – tanning. Whether it’s outside in the sun or in a tanning bed, tanning exposes you to unnecessary levels of UV radiation for a small (if any) perceived benefit. A tan is simply your skin showing damage, it’s not healthy at all and can increase your risk of skin cancer in the future.
However, some people are dead set on tanning. Which again, we would never recommend. The UV index was started to help people better protect themselves from UV radiation, not to help people intentionally expose themselves to UV radiation. If you decide to tan, make sure to do it when the UV index is at its lowest levels. This will at least minimize the damage you’re doing to your skin.
Why is tanning so bad?
Ultraviolet radiation is a proven carcinogen to the human body. Intentionally exposing yourself to it to darken (aka damage) your skin far from healthy. Although many people believe they look better with a tan, it only serves to compromise your skin health with no benefits at all. There is no “healthy tan”, a tan in itself is your skin slowly getting damaged and visibly showing that damage.
Even for darker skinned individuals, there’s no healthy way to tan. While your skin color may prove some level of protection against UV radiation, it’s still damaging your skin all the same. Even darker-skinned people can get skin cancer and should avoid intentional exposure to UV radiation – whether it be from the sun or from a tanning bed.
If you are searching for the UV tanning index to determine what time you should go outside and get your tan, here’s our recommendation: Don’t. There’s never a healthy way to intentionally expose yourself to UV radiation. Let your skin stay its natural and healthy color. And if you are dying to get that freshly tanned look, consider spray tan alternatives. These can provide a similar look without having to put your health at risk. And in the meantime, please make sure to cover up and keep your skin protected with sunscreen or UPF products!