If you're deprived of sun with no hols planned, you’re depressed about your whiteness and you want a golden tan whatever the weather, you might be tempted by the tanning salons and beds, but what risks to your health and your future looks are you prepared to take to get that perfect tan?
Aside from the obvious summer skin whatever the weather, why do people risk sunbeds over other types of fake tan (pills, self tanners and moisturisers)?
First of all, salon tanning is quick and convenient, saves you from spending hours roasting on the beach to get the colour you want, and gives you an even tan all over without bikini marks or redness.
Tanning salons are widespread and sessions are becoming cheaper and cheaper as the competition gets tougher. Expect to pay between £15 and £20 for a 10-20 minute session and a minimum of 3 sessions to get the perfect colour. Home sunbeds are also available so you don't have to move from your front room.
From a more medical point of view, you get the majority of your required Vitamin D intake through exposure to UV light, so sunbeds can be used to treat problems such as psoriasis or vitamin D deficiency.
- Sunbeds subject your skin to artificial UV rays, on top of the natural UV sun rays it's already subjected to. This dramatically increases the risk of skin cancer (melanoma) and premature ageing. The skin is attacked by intense rays which are much more powerful than natural sun rays, over a short period of time.
The risk of [developing] the most aggressive form of cancer, is increased by 75% in people who use sunbeds before the age of 30*
Some appliances can emit rays that are 5 times harsher than those emitted by the sun in Australia in its zenith during summer solstice.
According to a study led by the International Agency for Cancer Research, the risk of malignant melanoma, the most aggressive form of cancer, is increased by 75% in people who use sunbeds before the age of 30.
- Tanning salons pose a risk of eye damage, lesions such as keratitis and cataracts.
- Contrary to popular belief, sunbeds do not prepare skin for sun exposure, but they make you think you're more immune to burning. As a result, many people who have been on a sunbed before their hols suffer serious burns. The rays emitted by sunbeds are mainly UVA rays (it’s UVB rays which protect the skin).
- Artificial rays can cause photoallergic reactions, characterised by erythema (skin rash), vesicles (blisters on the skin containing fluid) and itching.
- Persistant exposure to rays contributes to the reduction of the body's immune defenses and increases the likelihood of infection.
- Do not expose yourself if you have phototype I or II skin or you're under 18 (because your skin is still very sensitive), if you are going on holiday or you already have sunburn, if you have a large number of freckles/beauty spots or skin problems.
- Always wear sunglasses specially designed for sunbeds to protect your eyes.
- Don’t use tan accelerating products you could get severe burns.
- Check that the bed/salon that you use is clean and passes basic hygiene measures.
- Finally, for the reasons listed above, tanning beds/salons should be used in moderation, if you use them at all. At the end of the day, what price are you prepared to pay for a tan?