UV rays from the sun come in three different types: UVC, UVB and UVA. The UVC rays are filtered out by the atmosphere. The UVB, most dangerous to human skin and eyes, and UVA reach the earths surface. The intensity depends on the earths location to the sun, time of day, season or position. The most intense rays come between 11am and 1pm. These rays can increase by up to 50%.
UV rays are not visible to us, so when you are tanning outside you usually don’t realise you have over exposed until the damage has been done, sunburn. A Danish survey showed that “beach sunbathers exposed themselves to an average of three and a half hours of sun a day.”
Tanning beds mimic the suns UVA and UVB rays, but as they are controlled they reduce the risks of burning and boost your tanning. We cannot control the sun, but tanning beds can be controlled and limited to keep with research and ongoing updated regulations.
How the skin tans
Each person will have a different skin type. This is dependent on the amount of melanin you have in your skin, usually hereditary.
When your skin is exposed to UV the melanocytes, the deep skin cells, start to produce more melanin. This then makes the skin tan as the melanin ‘browns’ and makes the upper skin darken. The upper layers also thicken. This is the body building up protection to UV, which assists the skins ability to avoid burning.
Different skin types react differently to UV rays, people with lighter skin do not contain as much melanin, but people with darker skin naturally have more melanin. Some fair skin people have so little melanin that they will not be able to tan naturally or on a sunbed.
It is very important not to try to ‘hurry’ a tan with UV. This can result in permanent damage to the skin as you have exhausted the skins natural skin repair.
People who are any of the following cannot use tanning beds:
- Burns easily in natural sunlight (see skin types above)
- Medical conditions that are made worse in sunlight
- Large amounts of moles or freckles
- A history of sunburn, especially in childhood
- Any type of skin cancer (this should be checked if any close relative has had skin cancer too)
- If you are on medication, you should check with your doctor to make sure you can use sunbeds
- Under the age of 18 years old
In England and Wales, on 8 April 2011, it was made illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to use a sunbed.
Under the age of 18, the melanin-producing cells do not have the efficiency to deal with over exposure(sunburn) and this could possibly result in skin damage. Children’s skin is very delicate and should be protected. Children are exposed to one third of their lifetimes UV, prior to becoming 18.
In short, children do need to have limited exposure(vitamin D is very beneficial) but also must be protected and not over exposed to natural sun UV.
If you aren’t under any of the above then you can use sunbeds. Sunbeds can prepare you for a holiday and boost your vitamin D levels.
Melanoma is a skin cancer and was often a cause for concern for sunbed users. This is no longer the case. It has been proven that there is NO casual link between responsible use sunbeds and melanoma.
There was a large case study by Leeds Cancer Research UK Centre that proved there was no casual link between sunbeds and melanoma “Therefore, we have not found any evidence of a relationship between sunbed use and melanoma risk.”
Melanoma risk will be increased by over exposure and burning.
0.3 tanning is a safer way to tan. It complies with all British and European consumer safety regulations. The 0.3(W/m2) delivers the same effect as mid-day Mediterranean summer sun, but it comes without the burning risk. Allowing you to tan safely.
Your tan will be deeper and will last longer
The 0.3 is easier on your skin
The burn risk is eliminated with responsible use
Frequently asked questions:
How long is a sunbed session?
A sunbed session is the length of time it takes for you to reach your MED(minimal erythermal dose). This is prior to your over exposure point. The length of time spent on the sunbed, your skin type and the type of sunbed you are using will vary to make this pint. You should not stay on the sunbed if you start to get too hot or start to feel any burning.
Can I stay on a sunbed longer than a standard session?
This would depend on the sunbed you are using. The output of UV and power can vary from sunbed to sunbed. You can ask a trained member of staff to advise you as this will depend on skin type, sunbed and how your tan is currently developing.
The new 0.3 regulation now in action means that you will need to increase your session time to get the same dosage.
UV exposure and Melanoma
It has been proven that there is no casual link between the two. Melanoma can be caused by over exposure to UV and burning. So you must be mindful to not over expose your skin(especially more sensitive skin) to UV or burning.
Are there benefits to using a sunbed?
Yes there are. Your bodies vitamin D will rise. Also as you are in a controlled tanning sunbed you can limit over exposure and damage to your skin, if used responsibly.
Is there such a thing as a safe tan?
Yes there is! Your tanned skin can protect against sunburn(thought to be a main cause of melanoma). As long as you use sunbed responsibly the risk are low and the benefits are high.
Unprotected sun exposure, is it bad for me?
You should always take precautions when tanning. But regular and moderate amounts of unprotected UV exposure are necessary for good health. the boost in vitamin D can help lower the risk of certain cancers, high blood pressure and depression. It also helps lower the risk of type one diabetes. You must ensure you are using any type of tanning responsibly as overexposure can be dangerous.