Tan Lines

Jodie Michalak
Prevent tan lines.

Tan lines occur when the skin has been unevenly exposed to ultraviolet rays. They can be intentional or unintentional and may even cause embarrassment. Although tan lines can't always be prevented, there are ways to minimize their appearance and prevent the severity of skin discoloration.

Why Lines Appear

Anytime you venture outdoors you take a chance at exposing yourself to the sun's powerful ultraviolet rays. If your exposure is lengthy, it's likely you'll experience burned or tanned skin. Depending on what you type of clothing you wear, your body may reveal telltale lines of sun exposure. Any areas that have been properly covered up from the sun's rays will remain healthy, whereas the damaged skin will create lines of demarcation most commonly known as tan lines.

Environmental Influences

There are many occupations that increase the risk of tan lines. People working outdoors for extended periods of times normally have the tan marks to prove it. The following occupations may increase the risk of sun exposure:

  • Farmers
  • Construction
  • Truckers
  • Lifeguards

In addition to occupations, many outdoor hobbies increase the risk of sun exposure. These outdoor hobbies may include:

  • Gardening
  • Swimming
  • Hiking
  • Biking

If you subject yourself to any of the occupations or hobbies listed, you'll probably want to know how to prevent or minimize the effects of uneven sun exposure and practice safe summer skin care.

How to Prevent Tan Lines

To help prevent unsightly tan lines, it's best to cover up or remove clothing consistently. Although it may not be appropriate to remove every article of clothing, there are ways to keep covered without running the risk of unsightly marks.

  • Wear loose fitting clothing: Wearing loose clothing will help prevent marks. As the body moves, the clothing will shift, alternating the exposed and unexposed areas of the skin.
  • Sunblock: Not only is sunblock necessary to reduce the risk of skin cancer, it will also prevent the sun's rays from discoloring the skin, thus reducing the risk of lines.
  • Avoid peak hours: Peak hours are when the sun is the most powerful and most likely to burn and damage the skin. The peak hours are from noon till three o'clock in the afternoon. Avoid working or playing outdoors during these hours if possible.
  • Shed clothing: If you are alone and the timing is appropriate, feel free to shed layers if necessary to avoid tan marks. Many women who tan outdoors in privacy remove their bathing suit tops to keep strap marks from appearing. Men may choose to remove their shirts while working for extended periods of time outdoors.

Covering Lines

Once tanning lines have appeared, they will not go away until the skin thoroughly heals itself and fades to its natural healthy tone. This may pose a challenge if you have to go to a formal event or wish to keep your lines out of sight.Covering up tan marks is not easy, but there are a few tricks to minimize their appearance.

  • Self tanner: If your marks are bronzed rather than red, a self tanner may help blend the tan skinned with the unexposed areas. Apply directly to the unexposed areas and blend thoroughly. Reapply as needed.
  • Tanning booth: Tanning beds are a quick solution to help blend the skin coloring. Because tanning beds are frequented in the buff, you can easily blend the areas of lines within a handful of visits. Keep in mind than you will be exposing yourself to cancer-causing UV rays, and make a decision if the risk is worth the cover up.
  • Cover up: Lastly, covering up and changing your attire to hide tan marks is the easiest and safest alternative. If the weather warrants a sleeveless top, consider wrapping or hiding tan marks with a shawl or cardigan. Men may choose to wear loose fitting sheer long sleeve tops to hide upper body tan marks.

Although tan marks and lines are a common nuisance, they can still cause embarrassment when they occur at an unexpected or undesirable time. Practicing prevention will help reduce your risk of tan lines and all the other skin risks that go along with them.

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Tan Lines