What are the Best Tips for Safe Tanning?

Amanda R. Bell

Safe tanning can only be done one way: with a bottle. Despite this fact, millions of people all over the world frequent tanning beds. While there is no true safe way to use a tanning bed, there are ways to make its use a little safer. This includes choosing a reputable business, inspecting the equipment and limiting the amount of time spent self-tanning. Following these safe tanning tips can reduce or eliminate the risks associated with tanning.

A lightly tanned woman.
A lightly tanned woman.

Excessive exposure to UVA and UVB rays can lead to sunburn, premature wrinkling and skin cancer. While tanning beds have advertised themselves as safe tanning, this is far from the truth. Tanning beds not only have the same health effects as sun exposure but also expose the skin to more UVA and UVB rays at a closer range, accelerating the damaging effects.

A tanning bed.
A tanning bed.

In spite of the risks, many people still chose to utilize tanning bed facilities. Those who do should make sure the business they patronize is reputable, clean and knowledgeable about the risks of tanning. It is also important to check the equipment, specifically making sure that there is a protective covering over the bulbs in any place that the skin may come in contact with them. The lights used in tanning beds can cause severe burns if a bare bulb touches bare skin, which is not safe tanning.

Tanning outside is not considered safe.
Tanning outside is not considered safe.

It is also important when using a tanning bed to wear protective eye covering. Looking directly at the bulbs can cause the development of cataracts and vision loss, including total blindness. Waiting at least two days between tanning sessions is vital to safe tanning, because this allows the skin some time to recover from the damage. Most importantly, people under the age of 16 should not use a tanning bed, because their skin is still too vulnerable to handle the damage.

For those who decide the risk of using a tanning bed is too high, sunless tanners can provide the same look without the health risk. These tanners, whether sprayed on at a salon or applied at home, typically use the chemical dihydroxyacetone, which reacts with the outer layer of skin and causes it to darken. The tan then fades as the outer layer of skin sloughs off. The only risk associated with using these products is getting the chemicals in the mouth and eyes, which usually occurs while it is being sprayed on. Therefore, when using this form of self-tanning, it is important to keep the eyes and mouth closed tightly while it is being applied.

Both men and women go to great lengths to achieve the sun-kissed glow of a tan. Those who decide to use tanning beds for self-tanning should follow these safety tips to help minimize the risks to their health. To further minimize the risks, the best safe tanning tip of all is to skip actual tanning in favor of achieving a fake tan from a bottle.

In a horizontal tanning bed, sessions should be limited to a maximum of 20 minutes.
In a horizontal tanning bed, sessions should be limited to a maximum of 20 minutes.

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