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WHY DO WE GO BROWN?

Everyone knows that skin tans as a result of natural and artificial sunlight. Terms such as UV-A, UB-B and melanin are also generally familiar. But only very few people know how tanning actually works and appreciate the part played by the various sorts of light and melanin. The processes involved really do get,quiet literally under your skin!

The key to getting a tan lies in the different properties of short-wave UV-B and long-wave UV-A. For an attractive, long-lasting tan, we need both UV-B and UV-A. UV-B has more energy, increases melanin production and causes a thickening of the top layer of skin that acts as a natural sunscreen. However, the skin only goes brown once UV-A and oxygen cause the melanin to darken. The secret of a tanned skin, therefore, is found in the interplay of UV-A and UV-B.

Human skin is made up of different layers. UV-A falling onto our skin penetrates the connective tissue and dermis. In the germ layer, the bottom layer of the epidermis, lie the melanocytes that produce the pigment, melanin. Melanin travels to the surface where it comes into contact with UV-A and oxygen that enters the skin cell through the blood. The reaction that now takes place darkens the melanin, giving the skin that longed-for suntan. This process is called direct pigmentation.

Somewhat different is the process involved in indirect pigmentation where UV-B plays the leading role. Even in low doses, UV-B in the melanocytes boost the production of melanin. This increases the total quantity of melanin reaching the skin's surface, with UV-A and oxygen tanning the skin much more intensively through direct pigmentation.

So, whereas UV-A is responsible for a quickly visible tan, it is only intensified and reinforced through UV-B. Sunbeds in modern tanning salons make UV-A and UV-B available 365 days of the year - regardless of the weather and always in the same dose. Ask the attendants at your tanning salon for advice and guidance. They will also be able to tell you what skin type you are, which sunbed is suitable for you and how long your sessions should be.
FACTS ON TANNING
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