The only safe tan is the one you get from a bottle of self-tanner. Tanning causes loss of collagen and elastin, fine lines and wrinkles, sun spots and cancer, yet many people continue to do it. They argue they look better with a tan, which may be true in the short run, but any change in your genetic skin colour is a sign that your skin is damaged.
And all this damage will pretty soon show up on your skin, causing you to age prematurely and increasing your risk of getting skin cancer. And that’s true whether you get a tan from the sun or from tanning beds. Although tanning beds have been classified as known carcinogenic, there are still many misconceptions about them around which may make you think they’re safe to use, and thus put yourself and your skin at risk.
Let’s debunk a few of them, shall we?
Myth #1: The UV light emitted by tanning beds is less dangerous than the UV light from the sun
The sun emits both UVA and UVB rays. The light emitted by tanning beds is 98% UVA because that’s what causes skin to tan. However, this doesn’t mean that tanning beds are safer. UVB rays cause sunburn, which is bad enough, but UVA rays are more damaging. Both are mutagenic, which means they can cause the production of abnormal skin cells and, as a result, cancer, but UVA rays penetrate deeper into the skin. In addition, UVA rays also cause fine lines, wrinkles and brown spots. And this damage is cumulative. The more you tan, the worse you’ll look and the faster you’ll age.
Myth #2: Skin cancer is caused by sunburn, not tanning
While it is true that getting a few bad sunburns can increase your risk of getting skin cancer, the same is also true for people who use tanning beds, whether they get a sunburn or simply tan. In fact, the use of tanning beds is associated with a 75% increase in melanoma. Even people who tan but have never sunburned can get skin cancer. It’s cumulative exposure to UV radiation, whether from indoor or outdoor tanning, that causes cancer. Both UVA and UVB rays can cause mutations to cellular DNA, leading to premature aging and cancer. And tanning beds are particularly bad because your skin is very, very close to the source of UV rays, so you’re getting a more concentrated dose.
Myth #3: Using tanning beds is safe if you use sunscreen
If only! As mentioned above, any changes in your skin colour is a sign that your skin is damaged. While a broad-spectrum sunscreen can greatly reduce the damage, it can’t completely prevent it. And don’t think that “protective” tanning oils are any better. Actually, they’re worse. They will prevent the UV rays from drying out your skin, but they don’t offer any UV protection at all.
Myth #4: Tanning beds are a good way to get your Vitamin D dose
Again, not true. It’s the UVB rays that stimulate the production of Vitamin D in the body and, as I’ve mentioned above, the UV light emitted by tanning beds is composed primarily of UVA. Therefore, you will get hardly any Vitamin D from tanning beds. But even if tanning beds could stimulate Vitamin D production, it still wouldn’t be a good reason to use them. Tanning only injures skin and why should you get your Vitamin D dose from something that’s bad for you when you can get it safely from food?
Myth #5: It’s safe to use tanning beds only occasionally
Nope! Tanning is never safe! End of.
Now you really have no excuse to keep using tanning beds. Remember, it’s never too late to stop damaging your skin further!
Do you use tanning beds?