Before you begin any tanning regimen, you need to know fact from fiction.
My tanning salon says beds are safer than the sun. Is that true?
Perhaps the greatest danger associated with indoor tanning is that people exceed approved limits and tan with the highest level beds from the very beginning. Tanning beds actually emit 3-15 times more ultraviolet (UV) rays than the sun does in summer.
Tanning lotions protect my skin, right?
The lotions sold in tanning salons do not filter the sun’s rays. In fact, just the opposite is true. Indoor tanning lotions are designed to accelerate your skin’s browning process. They contain moisturizers and colorants like, carrot oil and DHA (the active ingredient in self-tanners). Using a tanning lotion under the assumption that it will block harmful UV radiation or protect you from developing skin cancer can be very dangerous.
Can I get an STD from a tanning bed?
No. Bacteria and viruses cannot survive on tanning beds. The UV rays are effective at killing them; however, some people might develop a rash from the chemicals used to clean the beds. Also, certain medications are known to be affected by UV light, and this reaction may result in skin irritation.
Can a healthy tan protect me?
When your skin produces melanin, the cells are actually attempting to block damaging ultraviolet rays. Your skin type determines how deeply you can tan, but most tans only equate to a level 2 or 3 sun protectant factor. To put that in perspective, the FDA recommends no less than an SPF 15. If your goal is total protection, do not rely on merely a suntan.
I hardly ever burn. That means I won’t get skin cancer, right?
You may tan easily, but UV rays can still damage your skin. The changes to your skin add up over your lifetime, so it can be hard to detect damage until it’s already too late. Ease of tanning isn’t the only thing to consider. The number of moles or dark freckles you develop can also increase your risk for melanoma. Your family history should also be accounted for in your tanning regimen.
Are sunless tanning lotions really safe?
Yes. Sunless tanning products are a safe alternative. They contain DHA (dihydroxyacetone), which colors the top layer of skin. This layer is made up of mostly dead cells that you shed every four or five days.
My friend says her doctor told her to go to a tanning salon. Is she lying?
Some medical conditions like eczema and psoriasis can be treated with UV rays. The treatment is completely controlled by a doctor or trained technician and exposure is limited by the doctor’s orders. Most indoor tanning not monitored this strictly, so be careful.
If I tan in a bed before my beach vacation, will I burn?
Even if you already have a tan, you can still burn. People with lighter skin, hair and eyes have fewer natural defenses against the sun’s rays.