There’s a myriad of ways to get that bronzed, glowing look for summer – but what is actually the safest, and what are the hidden dangers?

1. The traditional tan

Despite Australia having one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world (two to three times higher than the rates in Canada, the US and the UK), some still prefer the natural look of a tan gained by lying in the sun. But with two in three Australians diagnosed with skin cancer by the time they’re 70 and the incidence of melanomas rising in Australia by 50 per cent from 1982 to 2007, it might be time to slip-slop-slap and forgo the natural look for something a little more healthy.

If you are going to tan in the sun, however, take a few precautions to lessen the impact on your skin. Wear SPF15 sunscreen to afford yourself a little protection and avoid tanning in the middle of the day, from 10am to 2pm, when the sun is strongest.

2. Sunbeds and solariums

Between 95 and 99 per cent of skin cancers are caused by exposure to the sun – this means solarium tanning must be safe, right? Well… not exactly. The problem with solariums is that they use the same method of tanning as the sun – and a study by the Cancer Council and the Australasian College of Dermatologists showed solariums may emit much higher concentrations of ultraviolet (UV) radiation than the sun – up to five times as strong as midday in summer! It’s not just skin cancer you have to worry about however – overexposure to UV radiation can result in cataracts and other eye conditions, premature skin ageing and can even suppress the immune system.

Still willing to give sunbeds a go? The Cancer Council recommends a few restrictions (currently participation with these regulations is only voluntary by Australian solariums) – if you have fair skin that burns and doesn’t tan in the sun, steer clear of sunbeds as you’re at an increased risk of skin cancer, and if you’re under 18 years of age (when UV radiation exposure determines lifelong skin cancer risk) think twice before jumping in.

3. Spray tans and creams

Dihydroxyacetone (the active ingredient in fake tans) is considered safe for topical use, meaning rub-on creams and gels are the safest way to get that summery look, but be wary the spray tan. Inhalation, ingestion or application to the eyes is not proven to be safe and further studies are needed to conclude no ill effects. Use goggles, ensure the spray tan tent or booth is well-ventilated, and hold your breath when the beauty therapist sprays your face.

Even with these dangers, fake tanning is still the safest method for getting that bronzed goddess glow to-date. So if you simply can’t embrace the lily-white look this summer, do your own research and properly consider the different dangers of tanning before you pick a method.

Are you a fake-tan fanatic or a die-hard traditionalist? Let us know!