Safe tanning – Sunbed tanning: how not to hurt yourself
Do you frequently visit tanning salons and use commercial sunbeds? Doctors do not recommend that form of tanning at all, however, if you plan to use a sunbed anyways, at least attain some knowledge of safe tanning.
Is tanning safe?
Long and frequent sunbathing can be harmful to your skin.
Until recently it was thought that tanning lamps are harmless because they mostly emit long UVA rays. It was believed that common skin problems, such as redness, burns and skin cancer are predominantly the result of UVB radiation. Later, it turned out that UVA rays are actually more dangerous than UVB radiation. In fact they are able to reach the deeper layers of your skin, accelerating the formation of free radicals and damaging the collagen and elastin fibers. Ultraviolet radiation emitted by tanning lamps cause skin dryness, promotes the formation of dark spots, dilated capillaries, skin aging and skin cancer.
However, if sunbeds really had only flaws, they wouldn’t be as popular. Tanning salons supporters emphasize that tanning improves mood and appearance. Lamplight facilitates the production of vitamin D3. It also helps relieve depression, especially following the seasonal lack of sunlight.
Rules of safe sunbed use
Consult your physician first
We recommend you consult your physician first prior to UV tanning, even if you don’t have any health problems. It may turn out that cosmetics or medications you use (e.g. contraceptive pills) are contraindications to indoor tanning. Same goes for all dark and large moles and warts you might have. Your physician will also tell you all you need to know about the dangers of tanning and how to minimize the risks. It’s safe tanning, or no tanning at all.
Check the quality of a sunbed you plan to use
It’s best to only visit tanning salons that use world-renowned sunbed brands such as Ergoline, KBL megaSun or HAPRO Luxura. They are covered by manufacturer’s warranty, which ensures professional maintenance of these devices, regular tanning lamps retubing, etc. Make sure that the sunbed you are going to use, is thoroughly sanitized and disinfected. Check if ventilation is efficient enough and whether you can turn off the lamps that tan your face. Your facial skin is very delicate so you should completely resign from tanning this sensitive area or at least limit it considerably. You should be able to check the tanning lamps hours counter. Remember that for the first 80 hours lamps emit stronger UV rays causing the body to tan faster, so you should shorten the time you spend sunbathing. Do not use the bed at all if the counter says it’s lamps have worked for more than 800 hours already. When using turbo sunbed, remember to shorten the tanning session accordingly.
Know your skin phototype and adjust tanning time accordingly
If you have very fair skin, freckles, blond or red hair and a very light nipples, you shouldn’t use sunbeds at all. If your skin is fair with a bit of freckles, you have blond or chestnut hair color and your nipples are light you shouldn’t tan for longer than 10 minutes. However, before your skin gets somewhat used to tanning lamps, you should not exceed 5 – 6 minutes. If you have a swarthy complexion, brown or black hair and dark nipples, your tanning sessions can last up to 20 minutes (although you shouldn’t initially exceed 10 minutes).
Do not exceed a safe tanning time
We advise not to exceed 10 hours of tanning per annum (counting in outdoor tanning).
If you’re new to use sunbed, repeat tanning sesion every 2-3 days, no more than 10 days altogether. Always allow your skin a minimum of 24 hours rest between each session. Also, remember not to combine outdoor sunbathing with visits in sunbed salons, because it speeds up the process of photoaging. Every two or three months stop sunbed tanning for at least four weeks.
Protect your eyes and nipples
Always wear goggles while tanning because radiation can harm your eyes. Cover your nipples with cotton pads or handkerchiefs. Remember to wash off makeup before sunbathing and take off your watch and jewelry. Take a shower, because deodorants and perfumes can cause sensitization, irritation and permanent discoloration. Use a protective lip balm with SPF.
Drink water directly after spending time in a sunbed, to avoid skin dehydration. Apply moisturizer to help replace the layer of lipids that protects your skin. Use products with ingredients that help fight free radicals (e.g. Vitamin E, C).
Before you use a sunbed make sure that:
- it is located in a separate sunbed room; you should be able to close the door and undress in privacy.
- There are hygienic products available to use freely, such as after-tanning lotion, paper towels, cleansing milk, cosmetic pad, etc.
- Protective eyewear is within reach,
- Tanning room has efficient ventilation or a window
Contraindications to indoor tanning:
- Pregnancy, breastfeeding,
- Fresh wounds or previous scars (e.g. after a recent surgery),
- Photodermatitis (also called sun poisoning or photoallergy),
- Heart, thyroid or kidney diseases; vitiligo, high blood pressure, epilepsy, psoriasis, herpes, acne rosacea, diabetes,
- Taking photosensitizing medications (e.g. contraceptives, antidepressants, diuretics, etc.)
- Freshly done waxing, chemical and physical scrubs, etc.,
- Using cosmetics with retinol or AHA acids.