Controversial Facts & Myths About How Safe Indoor Tanning Beds And Tanning Booths Really Are

by Regina

sunscreen, tanning, winter

When I first began to research this topic back in early 2000, I was tired of having such fair skin all winter long.

I usually develop a pretty nice healthy tan from limited exposure to direct sunlight during the spring and summer months. But I wasn’t crazy about my skin becoming pasty looking in the winter.

When I really began to look into indoor tanning, I discovered some very scary facts about tanning beds and tanning booths. This information had a dramatic impact on the way I view indoor tanning, so I thought I would share in case anyone else is on the fence about this subject.

Exposure To Sunlight Is Important

The truth is everyone needs a certain amount of exposure to sunlight in order to stay healthy.

Vitamin D helps with the absorption of calcium which we need in order to have healthy teeth and bones.

In fact, sunlight is a great source of Vitamin D.

There is research that suggests that sunlight (in moderate doses) can actually:

Keep in mind, occasional sunbathing with a sunscreen on is not the same as suntanning. Furthermore, indoor tanning provides far more potent rays than tanning outdoors in the sunlight does. So for starters, it’s important to know that differences do exist between the 2 forms of tanning.

Sunlight Today Is Stronger Than It Was In The Past

Unfortunately, our ozone layer is being depleted due man’s use of hydrochlorofluorocarbons and chlorofluorocarbons — both of which deplete ozone much faster than can naturally be recreated by the the combination of sunlight on oxygen.

Because of this, our ozone layer is not protecting us from the ultraviolet rays of the sun as it has in the past!

This means we get a larger dose of ultraviolet rays than is sometimes healthy for us. This can lead to skin cancer if we don’t do what we can to take care of ourselves — such as applying sunscreen when we go outdoors.

Indoor Tanning Facts & Myths

While the owners of many indoor tanning salons will tell you that using their tanning beds (and tanning booths) are safe because their they emit only UVA light, you need to know that they are really not safe.

Here’s why:

  • It’s true, UVA light is not as carcinogenic as UVB light. But… UVA light can still cause skin cancer! So while you’ve probably heard that indoor tanning is safe (or at least a safer alternative), there is plenty of evidence to the contrary.
  • The UVA light that you are exposed to when indoor tanning is far more concentrated than the UVB light that you are exposed to outside in normal sunlight. Concentrated amounts of UVA light penetrate the skin much deeper than UVB light does, causing your skin to age much faster than it normally would.
  • Also contrary to what many salon owners would have you believe, tanning beds and tanning booths do not only use UVA light. The truth is most tanning beds and tanning booths use a combination of UVA and UVB light — which can cause your skin to burn in order to speed up tanning.

See what skin cancer looks like. (WARNING: This gruesome photo shows what recurrent malignant melanoma on the upper back looks like up close.)

The Melanoma Research Foundation says using tanning beds before the age of 35 increases your risk of developing melanoma by 75% and using tanning beds occasionally can triple your chances of getting melanoma. 

~ Source

In the end, when you get a tan — whether outdoors or indoors — you’re getting a concentrated dose of ultraviolet light. There is no way around the fact that this increases your chances of getting skin cancer, and it prematurely ages your skin as well.

Based on what the studies indicate, my personal feeling after doing the research is that it is just too risky to use indoor tanning beds and tanning booths these days.

Quite frankly, I plan on living a long healthy life, and indoor tanning just seems like a way to shorten your lifespan to me!

As for me and my pasty looking skin in the winter time… it’s really not that big of a deal after all. Not when you consider the alternatives.

More About Indoor Tanning

See what happened when 20/20 went undercover to see how workers at tanning salons responded to questions about the safety of indoor tanning.