Are Tanning Beds The Safe Alternative To Sunlight?

Like the sun, tanning beds emit the UV rays UV A, UV B, and UV C. The UV A form is the most detrimental, with the UV B variety being only slightly less harmful.

Many people today are taking advantage of the technology that we have available. Many of us use things like PDA's, iPods, voice-dial cell phones, and even litter boxes that empty themselves.

We use all of these wonderful products to make our daily living a little less hectic, and to be as efficient as we possibly can. Into this group one can also place the tanning bed.

The Tanning Industry

The tanning industry has evolved from a being a single bed in the corner of a gym, to full tanning salons offering full lines of products as well as many amenities you would normally find at a health spa type of establishment.

At the time of the industry's birth, I myself wondered why someone would pay their hard earned money for something that they get for free, but then again look at the bottled water industry.

I myself don't tan regularly in a bed or bake myself in the harsh rays of the sun. I am fortunate that I am already olive skinned (thanks, Dad!), and don't have to make the special effort to have a nice skin tone. There are tons of people that do tan, and for some very good reasons.

I am here to give some insightful information about the both the risks and the benefits of tanning beds for those of you who use them on a regular basis. The truth of the matter is that all too often the lure of practicality and convenience take precedence in a decision, and the rationality of it is lost.

Benefits Of Tanning Beds

Tanning beds offer prospective users many benefits. Tanning in a tanning bed is, first of all, much more time efficient than using the huge nuclear reactor we call the sun.

Most of the people that I have known who tanned spent no more than about twenty minutes at a time in a bed. Those using our natural source for a tan may spend more than an hour at a time in search of that perfect copper tan.

A tanning bed also offers to the baked less radiation and significantly reduced ultraviolet rays. What many of the natural tanners don't realize is that the rays from the sun are radiation similar to that of any radioactive isotope.

The radiation pierces through your skin, and then physically changes your very own DNA into a mutant form, which often times causes you to develop skin cancer. Even though tanning beds are safer in terms of negative possibilities, tanning beds do still bring some consequences.

The staff of the particular salon should advise you about the maximum exposure time for the particular device you will use, the operation of emergency shut off controls, the requirement for protective eye wear, and the location of personal hygiene facilities.

Tanning bed surfaces and eye wear must be sanitized after each use. I have known more than a few people who left the salon with crabs due to poor sanitation. Ouch!

Risks Of Tanning Beds

There are risks associated to overexposure to the ultraviolet lights of tanning beds and booths. Like the sun, tanning beds emit the UV rays UV A, UV B, and UV C.

The UV-A form is the most detrimental, with the UV-B variety being only slightly less harmful. These are the components responsible for exciting the skin and leading to an increase in melanin, which it the black pigment responsible for a darker complexion. The primary reason that a tanning bed is safer than the sun is that the bed is operated and controlled by humans.

The other major detriment to tanning is the fact that tanning leads to premature aging. This happens because of the drying effect caused by regular tanning. The oils and moisture in your skin is what is responsible for your skin's elasticity. If these natural moisturizers aren't present then neither is the skin's ability to retract wrinkle free.

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For most people, a tanning bed is the best solution to the sunshine. Not having a tan, for most people, is more of a risk in the long run than having no tan at all. Studies do tell us that the positive effects of tanning outweigh the risks by practicing smart, moderate tanning.

To tan intelligently you should use indoor lotion, never burn, use post tan moisturizers, and always wear protective eye wear. You should also know your skin type, and what type of exposure your skin type is suited for. If you are unsure of this you should consult your physician.

You should also always tan with a lotion recommended by your salon for the type of bulb they use, most salons put their staff through a certification program to ensure competence, and it is even law in some states.

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Thanks for reading, and if you have any tanning questions or information for me, feel free to email me, at

Crab photo courtesy of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).