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KELOWNA — June 2, 2011 — ShouldCanadians seeking to avoid sunburns this summer opt for a base tan as a first line of defence instead of a chemical sunscreen? That is the question being asked by the Joint Canadian Tanning Association (JCTA).

 JCTA is marking its third annual Tan Awareness Week this week with an educational campaign designed to encourage intelligent sun care and sunburn prevention, rather than total sun abstinence. Tan Awareness Week was created to dispel misconceptions regarding moderate sun exposure.

“We want to inform Canadians about responsible sun exposure and dispel the myths about the harmful effects of moderate ultraviolet exposure from sunlight and sunbeds,” says JCTA Executive Director Steve Gilroy.  “As summer approaches, the JCTA aims to help the public achieve a balance between sunburn avoidance and vitamin D production, as well as understand the benefits and limitations of chemical sunscreens,” he added.

The JCTA believes sunburn prevention is best achieved through a combination of tanning and proper sunscreen usage. As we head into summer, this message is crucial for Canadians who typically receive very little or no exposure to the sun from October to May, as sudden excessive exposure to UV light without preparation can cause sunburn, increasing the risk of skin damage.
“Base tans from indoor tanning beds trigger a natural defense mechanism called photoprotection, which helps protect against sunburns and related sun damage,” Gilroy said. “Most Canadians don’t realize that when incorrectly applied, chemical sunscreens DO NOT give the same rating as listed on the bottle.” Health authorities recommend an SPF of 15 or 30 because they know the average person does not apply a sunscreen properly. Research has shown the average person applies only 37% of what is required which only creates an SPF of 1 to 4. In the May 2011 issue of the America Academy of Dermatology’s publication, Dermatology World, Dr Barbara Gilchrest, a Boston University dermatologist admits that a chemical sunscreen rated at SPF 100 would only give an actual rating of a sun protection factor (SPF) of 5 to 7 based on what the average person applies.

Base tan versus chemical sun protection

Base Tan Chemical Sunscreen
Has Sun Protection Factor (SPF) up to 4 Depends on how much, and how regularly you apply
Doesn’t wash off Will wash off
No reapplying required Reapply every 2 hours
Continues protection all day Average person needs bottle a day
Natural protection Chemical protection
Multiplier for sunscreen More chemicals needed


A base tan without potentially toxic chemicals like oxybenzone provides the same protection as chemical sunscreens applied by the average person.

Canadians should think very seriously about which way to protect themselves and their families from overexposure:  NATURALLY OR WITH CHEMICALS?


About the Joint Canadian Tanning Association

Founded in 2002, the JCTA is a national non-profit organization created to increase understanding of the professional tanning industry’s scientifically supported position that regular moderate ultraviolet exposure from sunshine or sunbed, in a non-burning fashion, is part of a responsible lifestyle that recognizes both the inherent benefits and the manageable risks associated with ultraviolet light exposure. provides a balance to the messaging Canadians receive regarding sun exposure and tanning beds.

Media Contact:
Tracey Warren
T: 403-259-0487