Let’s get one thing out of the way. It is not safe to use solely olive oil for tanning. Whether you are going on a sunbed or sunbathing on the beach, it is unsafe to only use olive oil for sun protection. Does that mean that there are no benefits of olive oil for tanning? Not at all! Olive oil has tons of skin benefits. It can help you achieve a healthy glow, an even and beautiful tan, and even speed up the tanning process for you. As long as you use it safely and responsibly, olive oil can be your fast-track ticket to gorgeous tanned skin. So let’s get straight into using it!
What Is In Olive Oil
Olive oil, unsurprisingly, is mostly composed of fats. According to the USDA, one tablespoon of olive oil contains: Calories: 119 Fat: 13.50gm Carbohydrates: 0 Saturated fats: 2gm Fibres: 0 Protein: 0 Vitamin E: 1.8mg Vitamin K: 8.1 microgram Note how little saturated fats there are in olive oil. Unlike fats that come from an animal source or heavily processed plant oils, extra virgin olive oil is almost entirely composed of polyunsaturated fats. Not only are these the ‘good’ fats that everyone is encouraging you to consume, but they are also what makes olive oil so beneficial for the skin. Every day our skin is exposed to a myriad of harmful factors. It’s not just the sun – pollution, toxic chemicals in our clothing, and even our makeup can become an irritant. One of the most important factors that determine your skin health, however, are free radicals.
How Olive Oil Protects Your Skin From Free Radicals (And Why That Is Important For Tanning)
You can picture free radicals as chopped up pieces of a whole molecule. Free radicals are very reactive – they desperately want to become a part of a whole once again. Unfortunately, when they choose to react with our own body’s cells and proteins, things get less than pretty. Free radicals cause the so-called oxidative stress. This is one of the main factors of skin ageing, especially premature ageing. UV radiation from the sun is what makes your skin tanner. However, it also produces free radicals that are damaging to the skin. And this is where olive oil comes in! The polyunsaturated fats in olive oil are great at picking up free radicals. They neutralize these harmful elements and protect your skin. It is no wonder that olive oil has been used for beauty purposes for as long as history can record! In a nutshell, olive oil can protect your skin from UV, while still allowing you to get a beautiful tan!
How Does Safe Tanning Look Like
Dermatologists like to say that the only safe tan comes from a bottle. This is, of course, not entirely true. Fake tan comes with its’ own bunch of risks – it can even lead to deadly allergic reactions. Because fake tanners are so heavy in chemicals, many women choose to avoid them, opting instead for more ‘natural’ forms of tanning. Sadly, UV light is still a carcinogen and one of the major factors for developing skin cancer. When you tan, you are still exposing yourself to risks, the key is to manage them and prevent harm as much as possible. Safe tanning starts with SPF so it’s time to look over something we all think we know (but really really don’t).
Know Your SPF Facts
SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor. It is a measure of the fraction of sunburn-producing UV rays that reach the skin. For instance, if you have an SPF of 50, just 1 in 50 sunburn-producing rays reach the skin. But this is not the full story. The rays that cause sunburn are UVB rays. UVA rays are just as dangerous… Except they are completely invisible. You do not burn from UVA but they can damage your cell DNA. Damaged DNA is a risk factor for skin cancer and this is why you want to protect yourself from UVA and UVB rays alike. Using broad-spectrum sunscreens is better for this, as they usually screen at least most, if not all of the UVA rays. Titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are two of the most common ingredients that prevent UVA damage.
Olive Oil For Tanning: During The Process
Some websites and even print magazines recommend using olive oil instead of sunscreen for tanning. This is completely irresponsible! Take a second to think about what you’re risking for a tan. Skin cancer can develop so fast that before you even catch it there are metastases. Once it spreads, it is much harder to treat and the 5-year survival ratios drop dramatically! This is not meant to scare you, just make you a bit more responsible. If you are going on a tanning bed for half an hour and only using olive oil (or any other oil for that matter), reconsider. It will age your skin, make the tan look uneven and patchy, and you dramatically raise your risk of developing skin cancer. What you can do is apply olive oil instead of sunscreen in spring and autumn. I am not talking about your face here. The skin on your face is thinner and a lot more sensitive. Not using proper sun protection means you risk premature ageing. But you can safely use a bit of olive oil over your shoulders, legs, and decolletage when you’re out and about. Olive oil helps your skin tan, it provides some protection from the UV rays, and it will make you look younger and glow. What is more, we are all very susceptible to vitamin D deficiency. Most Americans have it in some form without even realising it! While this doesn’t mean you should ditch the sunscreen, it means that when it’s not summer you have to get at least a little bit of sunshine. Choosing pure extra virgin olive oil in place of the usual sunscreen gives you that extra vitamin D boost without putting your health in danger.
Using Olive Oil For An Even Skin Color
The major use of olive oil for tanning is not instead of sunscreen. Olive oil can help better prepare your skin for tanning and it can also make your skin hold onto the tan longer. One of my favourite ways to use olive oil is in sugar scrubs. Before I go tanning I always do a quick scrub in the shower. The simplest way to prepare it is by mixing plain white sugar (or brown sugar if you want to get a little fancier and harness its’ additional exfoliation properties) and extra virgin olive oil. Massage it in your skin with circular motions after showering and then rinse it off. The olive oil and sugar combo helps you get rid of the uppermost layer of dead skin and makes it easier for you to tan. After I am back from vacation, I like doing oil rubs. When I come out of the shower, I do a thorough rub with warm olive oil. This moisturizes my skin, reduces flake, and helps me hold onto an even and beautiful skin colour for longer. To really take this to a next level, try mixing some essential oils into your olive oil. I love adding a couple drops of lavender oil. Since I shower in the evening, the lavender helps me relax and soothes my anxieties from the day. It comes with the added benefit of being a skin repellent. This is key for summer nights as the mosquitoes in my area are downright vicious!
The Do’s And Don’t’s Of Using Olive Oil For TanningAs with anything, there is a right and wrong way to use olive oil for tanning. Let’s recap all the do’s and don’t’s: Do:
- Get informed about the risks of unprotected sun exposure.
- Know what SPF means and choose a sunscreen the smart way.
- Avoid tanning beds, especially if you only plan on using oil for sun protection.
- Exfoliate thoroughly before you go tanning. A sugar scrub that features olive oil is perfect for that.
- Keep your skin in optimal condition by moisturizing frequently and using oil rubs after your vacation. This will help you stay tan for longer and it will also prevent skin ageing from the UV light exposure.
- Embrace your natural tan. Not everyone can get a dark olive tan and this is ok. You are beautiful the way you are and a tan is not worth the skin cancer risks!
- Assume that natural = healthy. Even if there are chemicals in sunscreens, they are a 100 times preferable to developing skin cancer.
- Go out in the sun without proper sun protection. Only use olive oil as sunscreen if you are going out for a short period of time. A day on the beach is not a short period of time!
- Do sunbeds. They are associated with a higher risk of skin cancer and they make you look older than you actually are. Not worth it!
Olive Oil For Tanning: Quick Conclusion
While olive oil has tons of skin benefits, it can't completely replace sun protection. Use it smart and you will get a beautiful and safe tan! P.S. Do you have extra tips on using olive oil for tanning? Share them in the comments below!
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