UVA rays from sunlight and tanning - pros and cons
Credit: GRPH3B18 through Wikimedia Commons

Sunlight contains UV rays that are invisible to the human eye and are classified according to their wavelength, which is measured in nanometers (nm). It is worth highlighting that the shorter the wavelength, the stronger the energy from sunlight. They are divided into three types:

  • UVC, whose wavelength varies between 200 and 280 nm. These rays are absorbed by the ozone layer before reaching the earth crust and are potentially dangerous to humans
  • UVB or medium wave rays (from 280 to 320 nm) are also largely absorbed by the ozone, yet reach the earth's surface
  • UVA comprising less harmful solar radiation. This wave length is between 320 and 400 nm and most of these rays reach the earth's surface.

UVA rays, while not as dangerous as UVB, penetrate our skin causing serious disadvantages if their use is excessive or if you are exposed to them before you are 30.

Sunbathing gives us many benefits for our health, and this can also be achieved with some sunbeds but both natural and artificial tanning carry disadvantages if we do not take precautions or use it in excess.

The action of sunlight can be direct or indirect, the latter is produced by the reflection of the rays on the Earth's surface and their spread through the clouds. For this reason, a cloudy day does not prevent solar rays to get you a sunburn. Similarly, depending on the area where we are also you receive a percentage of the sunlight reflected on the earth. For example, snow reflects about 85% of the sun, and beach sand about 15%. Which means we must also take care during the winter if we expose ourselves to the sun.

Sunbeds use UVA rays, since they are less intense and harmful, yet it has been shown that this practice also causes damage to the skin.

Sunbathing can be transformed into a kind of healing therapy. In addition to the aesthetic benefits, the sun can gradually bring us many other benefits. Sunbathing treatments  can reinforce the body for certain diseases and help prevent many others.

The body needs to form strong bones and teeth, and calcium, but this is not easily absorbed by our metabolism. To facilitate the absorption of calcium in our body, we need vitamin D. Some foods are naturally rich in vitamin D, but we must consume adequate amounts daily for it to be absorbed. Our body is able to synthesize this vitamin more quickly thanks to the action of the sun. Adequate exposure can act as a additional “medicine” to some treatments.

Today sunbeds have become an increasingly common method when it comes to getting tanned. You can get a nice color in just a few minutes without having to go to the beach at any time of year, but be careful in its use, in particular the total duration of the exposure per session, and check if it is suitable for your skin type.

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Advantages of tanning:

  • Improves our mood.
  • Strengthens bones and muscles.
  • Improves osteoporosis.
  • Increases the production of vitamin D.
  • Reduces acne.
  • Improves rheumatism and arthritis.
  • Prevents rickets.
  • Prepares the body to the summer exposure to sunlight, avoiding the dreaded sun burns.
  • If using UVA tanning beds, it is a quick process
  • If using UVA tanning beds, you can get a uniform tan all over your body.
  • Helps in the treatment of rheumatic diseases (including arthritis).
  • Soothe sore liver, kidney, intestinal colic, digestive disorders and urinary tracts.
  • Decrease the problems presented by certain allergies.
  • In the long run, it can protect a person suffering from multiple sclerosis.
  • It can help prevent some types of cancer (colon, ovarian, prostate and breast).
  • Has an analgesic and antispasmodic effect on muscles.
  • Accelerates cellular changes and oxidation processes.
  • It is a vasodilator and helps the circulatory system.
  • You can help the treatment of psoriasis and other skin diseases.
  • Helps recovery in all diseases in which vitamin D can help in treatment

Disadvantages of tanning:

  • You can lower the self-defense system of the skin.
  • Can cause skin aging, wrinkles, and low elasticity.
  • Can cause stains and melanomas.
  • Carries a high risk of cancer if used when under 30 years old, as well as melanoma, sunburn, chronic actinic dermatitis or the formation of malignant moles.
  • Produces spots on the skin surface.
  • Makeshift of the eye, such as cataracts.
  • Burns, irritation and abuse of the epidermal layer
  • In general, these problems appear with considerable abuse from exposure to sunlight.


  • Make sure before taking UVA rays, the machine is optimized and you know what it entails.
  • Do not use makeup on sessions.
  • Never exceed the exposure time.
  • Use goggles to protect the eyes.
  • Keep skin hydrated.
  • Rest between sessions two or three days.
  • Use of sunscreen if sunbathing outdoors, especially in the beginning
  • The time and the place chosen for sun bathing play an important role in how much radiation you get.

Some types of food also help defend against the damaging effects of the sun, especially the ones that are rich in beta-carotene, lycopene and antioxidants which help reduce the impact of the sun on the skin. These substances can be found in abundance in seasonal fruits and vegetables with bright colors (red, orange and yellow), such as tomatoes, carrots, citrus fruits and other similar products.

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Do not take UVA rays if:

  • If you have had cancer.
  • Have clear skin.
  • You have many stains and spots on the skin.
  • If you are pregnant.
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