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Why Redheads Should Never Use Tanning Beds Or Attempt A “Real” Tan

We're having a real conversation about tanning in general

If you’re familiar with our Ask a Redhead series, you know we offer redhead advice and answer *your* redhead questions from social media each week. We’ve noticed a common theme popping up in our inboxes recently. Redheads are asking us, “How can I tan? Are tanning beds safe?” 

This might be because Kim Kardashain went viral for normalizing her use of a tanning bed in her office. Encouraging the use of tanning beds is dangerous, and even more so for redheads who are at the highest risk of all. Most redheads can’t tan and will never be able to, but the ability to tan or burn isn’t solely determined by hair color but by various factors like skin type, melanin production, and sun exposure. Redheads typically have fair skin with less melanin, making them more prone to burning than tanning.

However, individual differences in skin type and genetics can lead to variations in tanning ability among redheads. Yes, there are some redheads who can tan. Redheads with slightly darker skin tones among redheads may have a better ability to tan compared to those with extremely fair skin. However, regardless of skin type, it’s important for all individuals to practice sun safety measures like using sunscreen and limiting sun exposure to prevent skin damage. UV tanning is not recommended for redheads (especially with fair skin) because they have less melanin, making them more susceptible to sunburns and an increased risk of skin cancer from UV exposure.

Redheads have a much higher likelihood of getting skin cancer than anyone else, and even small amounts of unprotected UV exposure can put you at risk. While there are ways to enjoy the outdoors with sunscreen and sun protection, the majority of redheads won’t get a tan when properly protected. Spending time outdoors — or in a UV bed — actively trying to get a tan is putting you at risk. Tanning beds emit ultraviolet (UV) radiation, which can cause skin damage and increase the risk of skin cancer, regardless of hair color. However, because redheads often have fair skin that is more susceptible to UV damage, they are at a higher risk of experiencing harmful effects from tanning beds, including sunburns, premature aging, and an increased risk of skin cancer. Additionally, the lack of protective melanin in fair-skinned individuals can make them more vulnerable to the harmful effects of UV radiation from tanning beds.

We never recommend outdoor or UV bed tanning to any redhead. For redheads who want to be tan, try a spray tan, or an at-home self-tanner. Spray tans or faux tans involve applying a chemical solution to the skin, which reacts with the surface to produce a temporary tan appearance without the need for UV exposure. This eliminates the risk of sunburn, premature aging, and skin cancer associated with UV tanning, making it a healthier option for those with fair skin, including redheads.

There are safe ways to get your glow on, but traditional tanning just isn’t one of them.

Rock it like a Redhead! 


READ: 6 Best Gradual Sunless Tanners for Redheads

READ: Ask a Redhead: Feeling Pressured To Tan And How To Embrace Your Skin