Why Your Base Tan is Bullsh*t

I spend a lot of time in the sun, canoeing is a water sport. We race during the summer but seeing as we live in the great white north we migrate down south to train during the winter. This means I lather on the SPF a couple times a day before I hit the water, but I didn’t always. I love a good tan, I could lay in the sun all afternoon. I love the sun but it doesn’t love me back.

As a teen I always wanted to be tan. My dad is a redhead so I am pretty sensitive to the sun. I would lay in the sun all afternoon and nurse my sunburn all evening. I took comfort in the fact that my burn would turn into a golden tan. I didn’t stop to think about what a tan really is. It’s all sun damage. As I head into my 20’s I’m more aware of what sun damage really means. I stay out of the sun as much as possible and I spend a large amount of my morning applying sunscreen. I want to avoid premature aging and of course the always terrifying cancer. Most of my fellow athletes are aware of the dangers of the sun and have a well executed plan to avoid the harmful rays. It’s my friends who head to the sunny south for vacation each year that worry me.

The spring breakers who decide they need a base tan before they hit the beach are the people I’m worried about. Base tans are total bull. Using sun damage to prevent sun damage is like using a lighter to put out a fire. A base tan is when you roast in a tanning bed before you hit the beach. The idea is that once you’re tan you don’t need sunscreen anymore. The only way to completely avoid sun damage is to stay out of the sun! If you must leave the safety of your house lather on the SPF.  Rethink your your tanning appointment and get a spray tan, or better yet embrace your pale skin!

The reason for this little rant is to remind myself of the importance of protecting my skin! I’m at a two month training camp in Florida and I can sometimes get caught up in the desire to darken my complexion. I hope this will keep me in check and keep me sun safe!

HM

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