Sun tans are a symptom of damaged skin. They are the result of ultraviolet radiation stimulating the melanocytes (cells in the top layers of the skin) to produce more melanin or pigment. This is a natural defense of the skin to protect against UV. However, while the melanin helps protect the skin, over exposure and repetitive exposure of the skin to the sun's rays or to tanning booth rays damages melanocytes and many other cell types in the skin. This damage is cumulative and potentially irreversible, ultimately leading to premature aging of the skin and skin cancer. Therefore, the tan you thought beautiful for a few days may lead to a lifetime of skin problems.
As we begin to understand the importance of avoiding sun tans and exposure to ultraviolet radiation, numerous organizations have developed education programs about skin cancer prevention and education. Sun protection methods can, and should, be taught at all ages.
Sun tans should be avoided. Sun tans are a symptom of damaged skin and are a red flag to doctors to look for skin cancers and problems associated with premature aging.