Like many new trends, beer tanning first became popular on TikTok. Beer tanning involves pouring beer on your skin prior to sun exposure to enhance your tan. Many TikTok trends are helpful, while others are dangerous. Read on to learn if beer tanning is safe, considerations prior to following the trend, and possible alternatives.
Beer tanning involves pouring beer on your skin and then going outside to tan in the sun.
Beer does not protect your skin from sun damage.
Using spray tans or self-tanning lotions is the safest way to get a tan.
Sun protection includes broad-spectrum sunscreen and chapstick with SPF 50, wide-brimmed hats and clothing with UPF 50, sunglasses with UVA and B protection, avoiding peak hours, and seeking shade or covering.
What is a tan?
A tan is the body's response to your skin's exposure to the sun. The UV radiation from the sun stimulates the body's melanocytes to produce melanin. This production of melanin is your body's attempt to protect itself from burning. This increase in melanin turns the skin brown, giving you a tan appearance.
Why tanning is not healthy
There is no such thing as a healthy tan. Having a tan means that your body has experienced the deleterious effects of the UV radiation from the sun. Radiation from the sun causes premature aging by destroying collagen and elastin. This destruction of collagen and elastin leads to wrinkles and sagging skin, the hallmarks of aging. UV radiation also damages our skin's DNA, which results in skin cancer formation. One in five people will get at least one skin cancer in their lifetime, and the numbers are rising.
What is beer tanning?
Beer tanning is a new TikTok trend that involves pouring beer over your skin while tanning in the sun. Some believe that the beer will stimulate an increase in melanin production and give you a better, cheaper tan compared to suntan lotion. There is no science to back this up, and no doctors support this premise.
Why beer tanning is not healthy
Beer tanning is a dangerous trend that can lead to premature aging and skin cancers. Beer does not protect your skin from sun damage; it is not sunscreen. Exposing your skin to the sun without any sunscreen or clothing to protect it will cause permanent damage to your skin, which will present as a tan or burn. Once you have damaged your skin, you cannot reverse it.
Sun protection tips
You must protect your skin every day from the sun's harmful rays. This includes cloudy, rainy, or cold days. The radiation from the sun is always present. There is no safe amount of sun to get on your skin. Every bit counts because cumulative sun damage, over time, causes skin cancer and aging.
Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects against UVA and UVB rays and has an SPF of 50. SPF 50 means that your skin will tolerate 50 times the normal amount of sun without burning. It blocks out about 97–98% of the sun's rays.
Be sure to apply sunscreen daily to all of your exposed areas, and reapply every 1–2 hours you are outside. This includes sitting by windows in your house or driving in the car because the UV rays go right through the glass. Reapplication of sunscreen is critical to good sustained protection all day. Sunscreen stops working after about 2 hours, and it also sweats off, leaving you vulnerable to the sun.
Wide-brimmed hat with UPF 50
Sunscreen is a good protection, but it is not perfect. You will get even better protection if you combine sunscreen with a wide-brimmed hat UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) 50. UPF 50 means that the fabric will block out 98% of the sun's rays. Baseball caps, while they protect your scalp, will do nothing for your face. That is why the wide brim is so helpful.
Chapstick with SPF 50
Your lips are more vulnerable to the sun's rays than the rest of your skin because they lack the same protective layer. This means you need to be more diligent with using chapstick with SPF 50 on your lips. Chapstick tends to get removed quicker on the lips because of eating, drinking, and talking. So you will have to reapply more frequently than every 1–2 hours.
Sunglasses with UVA and UVB protection
Your eyes are susceptible to sun damage as well. The sun can cause not only cancers but also cataracts. Select sunglasses with broad-spectrum coverage, with both UVA and UVB protection.
Clothing with UPF 50
If you have to be outside, wear clothing to protect your skin. UPF 50 clothing will block out 98% of the sun's rays. You can find this clothing in boating, fishing, golf, and tennis stores or online. The more skin you cover up with clothing, the less sunscreen you must apply to your body. This clothing is available in styles for most outdoor activities, including swimming.
Avoid peak hours
If you must be outside, avoid peak sun hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. This is when the rays are the most damaging, and it is the hottest. However, this does not mean that at 9 a.m. you do not have to wear sunscreen. If the sun is out, radiation is present, and you must protect your skin.
If you are outside, try to seek shade or covering. This may help block out the direct rays from the sun and keep you cooler too. Some umbrellas have UPF 50 fabric, which is beneficial. Just be aware that the sun's rays reflect off the ground and onto you with the same intensity.
Alternatives to sun tanning
There are some alternatives to sun tanning, which are much safer for our skin, such as a spray tan or using self-tanning cream. You can perform a spray tan at home or receive one in a salon. These will last 1–2 weeks if well cared for and applied correctly. You can apply self-tanning cream every day or as often as you desire to keep the level of tan. These alternatives will not cause skin cancer or premature aging like the sun.
Beer tanning is a TikTok trend to avoid. It is dangerous and can lead to premature skin aging and skin cancers. If you must have a tan, use safer alternatives like self-tanning lotion or get a spray tan. Beer will not protect your skin from the harmful rays of the sun. You need to use sunscreen on all exposed areas, wear protective clothing and hats, avoid peak hours of the day, and seek shade or covering when you are outside. If you need help and guidance with selecting sun protection clothing and sunscreens, ask your dermatologist.
- Canadian Medical Association Journal. The efficacy and safety of sunscreen use for the prevention of skin cancer.
- American Journal of Clinical Dermatology. Sunscreens and Photoaging: A Review of Current Literature.
- American Family Physician. Sunscreen use for skin cancer prevention.