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Are Tanning Beds Safe?

Curious about tanning beds? We have the lowdown. Learn whether they're safe to use

Woman laying in a tanning bed

The skinny on whether tanning beds are safe to use

In today’s world, many of us relish the look of a deep tan, making us look sun-kissed during the warm, summer months when pants get swapped out for shorts and tank tops take the place of blouses. We all know that sunscreen is a must to protect the skin from harmful UV rays when spending time beneath the sun, but what about tanning beds?

If you’ve been scoping around for the best sunless tanner, tanning beds may be something that has popped up on your radar. However, just because tanning beds provide a quick and easy tan doesn’t mean that they’re healthy. Here’s what you need to know about tanning beds and their safety.

Tanning Beds Increase Your Risk of Developing Skin Cancer

If you think that hanging out in a tanning bed is safer than sitting beneath the sun, you may want to think again. Tanning beds, including tanning booths and sun lamps, can greatly increase your chances of developing skin cancer, even after only one session. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, melanoma chances raise by 20 percent, squamous cell carcinoma by 67 percent, and basal cell carcinoma by 29 percent. These are no small percentages, and because of the existing proof that tanning beds increase cancer likelihood, the FDA has actually mandated that tanning beds have warning labels on them.

Tanning Beds Can Lead to Emergency Injuries

Even if you can get past the skin cancer stats, tanning beds still pose a number of healthcare threats to those who use them. Tanning beds can actually cause burns that are so severe, people have to go to an emergency room for treatment.

In addition to burning, some people have experienced loss of consciousness and eye injuries from using tanning beds. If you want to find the best sunless tanner, tanning beds certainly don’t make the cut in terms of health and safety.

Tanning Beds Aren’t Equatable to Phototherapy

Phototherapy is one type of therapy that is often used on patients who suffer from psoriasis. The way phototherapy works is by exposing the patient to short bursts of UVB light to slow the growth of skin cells and assist with breaking down the lesions caused by psoriasis.

Many people who have heard about phototherapy believe that tanning beds can be used as a form of treatment; however, the phototherapy beds in doctors’ offices are quite different from the beds you’ll find at a tanning salon.

Tanning beds emit UVA light, which proves to be useless in treating those with psoriasis when compared to UVB light bursts. Additionally, tanning beds are not regulated, meaning that the amount of light being emitted is not being carefully controlled and could lead to bigger skin problems (such as the aforementioned cancer) than psoriasis.

Alternative Sunless Tanning Options

As an alternative to tanning beds, there is a wide variety of sunless tanning options for those wanting to get glowing skin without the damage caused by the sun or harmful UV rays.

Spray tans are one way that you can achieve a sun-kissed look without getting into a tanning bed. Spray tans can be self-applied, or you can hire a professional to ensure that you get an even spray tan. Additionally, when working with professionals, both spray tan showers exist (where you enter on your own and are sprayed down with tanning spray) as well as consultants who will use a handheld device to evenly spray a tan across your entire body.

Self-tanners are another popular option for those wanting to indulge in tanned skin. These products can be found at drug stores, on the internet, and in beauty salons. They come as both lotions and creams, and are often produced in buildable formulas that let you darken your skin color over multiple applications rather than one go. The buildable formulas prove to be particularly useful for those wanting to achieve a natural, even look, as they allow users to take their time in developing their tan.

In addition to creams and lotions, self-tanners also come in gel formulas, oils, and serums, allowing you many options to figure out which product works best for you as a sunless tanner. These products also range widely on the pricing scale, so you can be sure to achieve a perfect-looking tan no matter your budget. And going the self tanner route is by far one of the safest ways to get that glow.

Resources— American Academy of Dermatology, Our Everyday Life, Skin Cancer Foundation

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