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Is it safe to tan before a vacation?

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If your summer vacation plans include time out in the nice warm sun, you might be thinking of getting a base tan to help prevent sunburn. But, Consumer Reports says that might not be a good idea and could actually be more harmful than helpful. In fact, having a suntan does next to nothing when it comes to protecting your skin.

“A tan is actually a sign of skin damage. The sunlight can injure the DNA in skin cells, and that causes them to darken to prevent further damage. However, a base
tan will give you far less protection than using sunscreen,” explained Trisha Calvo, Health Editor at Consumer Reports.

Calvo says a better to protect your skin is to practice safe sun strategies.

"It’s always a good idea to cover up with sun-protective clothing and a hat. And always use a broad-spectrum sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher on exposed skin. Be
sure to apply it 15 minutes before you go outside, and every two hours or after swimming or sweating heavily, " she recommended.

Two of Consumer Reports' top best buy sunscreens are Equate Walmart Ultra Lotion SPF 50 and Trader Joe’s Spray SPF 50-plus.

If you decide to get your tan the safer way by using a temporary self-tanning cream or lotion, remember that a fake tan offers zero protection from UV damage. So, remember, to still put on sunscreen.

All Consumer Reports material Copyright 2019 Consumer Reports, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Consumer Reports is a not-for-profit organization which accepts no advertising. It has no commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor on this site. For more information visit

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