Safe Tanning Beds

Are There Safe Tanning Beds?

Are there really such things as safe tanning beds?  Well, salons would like to fool you into thinking that there are and while there may be “safer” versions none are considered 100 percent safe.  Of course, with so much hype give to the importance of receiving your daily dose of vitamin D, people are looking for a quick fix of sunlight.  Unfortunately, there is no healthy replacement for pure sunshine, despite what tanning “professionals” are telling you.

A moderate amount of sun provides you with the vitamin D that you need to ward off heart disease, cancer, stroke, osteoporosis and depression.  Since many people seem to have a hard time incorporating a bit of daily sun into their busy day, they manage to squeeze in a trip to the tanning salon.  Interestingly, 20 minutes of sun exposure is all that your body needs everyday.  That's a quick walk around the block or taking your lunch outside on your break at work.  Remember that the next time that you spend an hour driving to a tanning salon, undressing, applying lotion, tanning, getting dressed and driving home.

UVA vs. UVB

Maybe you have heard that there are safe tanning beds because they only omit either UVA or UVB rays?  So, which one is it?  Why are there so many conflicting opinions over which rays are “safe” and which ones are not?  Both rays are absorbed completely differently by your skin.  UVA rays have substantially longer wavelengths that have the ability to penetrate into your skin's deepest layers.  UVB rays are much shorter and only reach your skin's surface layers.  Unfortunately one is not any better than the other.

Both UVA and UVB rays contribute to negative health risks that are associated with too much sun exposure.  While UVB rays do penetrate deep to provide you with vitamin D, too much of a good thing is, well, actually quite dangerous.  You do not need your whole body exposed to the rays at close range.  All that is required to soak up the vitamins is about 20 minutes of your face and hands being exposed.

The Golden Effect

Still think there are safe tanning beds?  How exactly do you think that you achieve such a golden brown color?  While you may think that you are going tanning to soak up some UVB rays, salons are primarily interested in UVA rays because those are what tans your skin.  In fact, most salons calibrate their “safe tanning beds” to provide you with about 95 percent UVA rays which minimizes how much vitamin D is metabolized to make up for the damage that the ultraviolet rays just caused.

Theoretically, every tanning bed is able to be calibrated in this way.  It is important to note that safety of exposure does depend on moderation.  Since people are not entering their tanning beds fully clothed, too much exposed skin results in an excessive amount of ultraviolet rays being absorbed.

Side Effects

Regardless of who is telling you that there are safe tanning beds, there are proven documented long-term side effects, such as: