With Spring Break right around the corner, more Americans will start to hit the tanning beds. It seems like you can’t get through one radio commercial break without hearing at least one tanning salon special. Tanning beds become more popular around this time of year due to people to wanting to get a “base tan” for their spring break vacation, give their skin a bit of a “healthy glow”, or even to help improve their complexion. While tanning beds may temporarily accomplish these things, the fact is that you are doing a lot of damage to your skin in the long run. We have collected some facts and myths about tanning that we would like you to be aware of before you hop into a tanning bed.
Myth #1: The Base Tan – the theory of the base tan is that you need to get your skin tan before you go to a place with a lot of sun (like a beach, Florida, South Carolina, etc), and that by doing so, your skin will be protected and you will be less likely to burn. The truth is that you can still burn when you have a base tan, and getting a tan before hitting the beach is only equivalent to about an SPF 7. Definitely not adequate enough sun protection.
Myth #2: A “Healthy Tan” – Some people use tanning beds to give their skin a healthy glow and get rid of the paleness of their skin from the winter months. Tans from ultraviolet radiation (UV) damage skin cells. There are two types of UV rays – UVA rays and UVB rays. While it is true that most tanning beds emit UVA radiation, and these UVA rays are less likely to cause a sun burn, they are also the ones responsible for premature aging of the skin (think of the A in UVA as Aging), and are mainly responsible for the aged, leathered look people get from tanning. UVA rays have also been linked to skin cancers such as melanoma, and other skin cancers. People who have used tanning beds before age 35, increase their risk for melanoma up to 75%.
Myth #3: The Acne Fighter – There are people that use tanning beds to help get rid of their acne, or improve their skin complexion. While this can temporarily help alleviate acne, with all the damage it can cause to your skin, why take the risk? There are many safer options for treating acne, including topicals, oral medication, and even Blu-U light therapy. Blu-U is a light based treatment that can be used to treat acne, without all the dangers that come along with tanning beds.
With all of the risks and damage that tanning/tanning beds cause to your skin, we hope that you will choose to not visit the tanning beds this year and instead reach for your physical block SPF and apply it all over your body. There are other, safer ways to get your skin tan – self tanners or even some spray tans can be a safe alternative. Even with these, it is still imperative to wear at least an SPF 30 physical sunblock daily, especially when at the beach or in a warm climate.