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Photo courtesy of Boudewijn Berends
With summer right around the corner people are probably thinking about soaking in the sun and getting the perfect tan. Tanning products such as lotions and sprays tend to be expensive and may be harsh on your skin. Tanning salons and commercial solariums are banned in most of Australia. It turns out that your backyard is the best place to get the perfect tan.
There are a number of very compelling reasons why you would want to get tanned. Besides being perceived as more attractive, naturally tanned people enjoy a number of health benefits associated with Vitamin D production. These benefits include:

  • Improvement of mood and energy as endorphins are produced and released;
  • Inducing nitric oxide which protects the heart and the skin and helps fight cancer;
  • Synchronising biorhythms;
  • Control body odor;
  • Suppressing and protecting against symptoms of multiple sclerosis; and
  • Treating seasonal affective disorder (SAD), among others.

But sun tanning is not without its risks.

  • At the very least, staying too long under the sun will give you a nasty sunburn.
  • Unprotected prolonged exposure to the sun’s harsh ultraviolet (UV) rays also causes premature aging.
  • Eye damage could result.
  • But the cause for the most concern is skin cancer; Australia has the highest incidence of melanoma in the world.

Naturally, you will need to balance the pros and cons. These tips will help you minimise the risks while getting the most out of taking in some sun on your deck or patio.
The Right Time
Get a tan in the morning or late afternoon. Avoid the sun when it is at its hottest between 10am until 2pm, since this is also when the sun’s UV rays are strongest and does the greatest amount of damage to your skin.
Secure Privacy
A lot of people want their tan to be smooth and even all over and so go topless or completely nude when they sun themselves. If you are one of these people then make sure you have enough privacy. Install screens on your deck or patio to keep away prying eyes. This will allow you to shamelessly take off all your clothes so you get a smooth, even tan all over your body.
Protect Yourself
You should always wear sunscreen when you intend to or need to stay outdoors for long periods.

  • It shields your body from the sun’s harmful UV rays.
  • It has been proven to decrease your chances of getting skin cancer.
  • It helps to prevent skin discoloration, especially on the face.
  • It keeps skin from developing wrinkles and prematurely aging.

Start off with a product at SPF 15. SPF is the level of protection against UV rays. The higher the SPF rating, the more protection you get. SPF 15 is a low rating that protects you from UV but still allows you to tan. If you use higher SPF sunscreens, you may not get the tan you so desire!
Set a Time Limit
Do not stay too long under the sun. You want to get a gentle tan, not be burned to a crisp! Limit your exposure to 15 – 25 minutes two to three times each week.
Protect Your Eyes
Your eyelids were designed to protect your eyes, but the skin there is so thin that prolonged exposure to UV can damage the fragile tissues that are found there. UV rays penetrating the eyelids can also damage the eye itself, burning the cornea and causing a condition called Keratitis, or corneal sunburn.
The easiest way to protect the eyes is to wear a pair of sunglasses. Make sure they have UV protection. You can also buy tanning goggles. These may give you a weirdly alien look, but they really help keep UV rays out.
Stay Hydrated
Have some water within reach while you are sunbathing. You’ll be losing a lot of moisture while lying under the sun. Coffee and green tea are both known to increase UV protection, so having a large mug of either beverage will keep you both hydrated and protected. After your tanning session, take a soothing shower to wash off the sunscreen and hydrate your skin.