What is a Tanning Booth?

Misty Amber Brighton

A tanning booth is a piece of equipment designed to tan skin with artificial light. In other words, it contains bulbs that emit ultraviolet (UV) radiation in order to create a tan without sunlight. The booth is usually free-standing, with a door that opens out. The user walks into the booth and stands in front of the ultraviolet lights in order to get an even tan, all over the body.

Most tanning beds feature between 27 to 60 fluorescent lamps.
Most tanning beds feature between 27 to 60 fluorescent lamps.

This type of sunless tanning booth is typically slightly rounded on either side, with a flat back and front. On the inside, the ultraviolet bulbs are located all around the booth. These are underneath a layer of glass, so that skin cannot make contact with them — yet their pigment-producing light can cause tanning.

A tanning bed.
A tanning bed.

A person who wants to achieve this kind of sunless tan should first seek out a reputable tanning salon. A typical tanning booth should contain light bulbs that are between 100 and 160 watts each. There should also be between 32 and 56 lights in each tanning unit, depending on its size. Tanners should inspect the booth to see that all lights are working properly, in order to ensure an even tan with little to no burning.

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Since the bulbs in a tanning booth emit UV rays, it is very important that a user wear safety goggles to protect her eyes while tanning. These goggles cover only the eye area, and have a flexible rubber strap that can be adjusted for individual comfort. They are normally provided at no additional charge by a salon.

Users of artificial tanning devices should also use the proper tanning lotions and bronzers. These products are specially designed for use in artificial tanning systems, and are not recommended for natural, outdoor tanning. A salon professional can usually advise customers on which products are best, based upon the individual's tan base and booth exposure time.

There are a number of risks associated with the use of tanning booths. If exposure is too high, a user may burn just as she would outdoors. Also, some medical professionals believe that sunless UV tanning contributes to the development of cancer. In the U.S., for example, the National Cancer Institute claims that using a tanning booth more than once a month increases the risk of skin cancer by more than 55%. For these reasons, users should limit exposure to only what is necessary to create a tan, always wear protective eye goggles, and use the correct tanning lotions in order to minimize potential risks.

A lightly tanned woman.
A lightly tanned woman.

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