Tanning FAQ’s

Is indoor tanning the same as tanning outside in the sun?

When you tan at an indoor tanning facility, your skin produces a tan the same way it does when you lay out in the sun: through ultraviolet (UV) light. There is one important difference, though…

When you are out in the sun; you cannot control the amount of UV light you are exposed to, because it is affected by changes in the atmosphere.

Indoor tanning is one way to regulate the amount of UV light you are exposed to, because it is a controlled environment. You can gradually increase your exposure time to make sure you don’t get sunburn, which is harmful to the skin. Additionally, because the operator has skin typed you; you will be ONLY exposed to the light for the correct duration for your skin group type, unlike outdoors where you would be flooded with higher levels of light on an undetermined intensity and duration.

How do the beds and booths work?

Tanning beds and booths basically imitate the sun. The sun emits three kinds of UV rays (the ones that make you tan). UV-C has the shortest wavelength of the three, and is also the most harmful. The sun emits UV-C light, but then it’s absorbed by the ozone layer and pollution. Tanning lamps filter out this type of UV light.

UV-B, the middle wavelength, starts the tanning process ,by stimulating the melanocyte cells that produce melanin for several hours after exposure, these melanin granules will later be bronzed by subsequent exposure to UV-A making the brown that we call a “tan” but over exposure can cause sunburn.

UV-A has the longest wavelength, and it completes the tanning process. It does this by “oxidizing” the melanin, much the same way that iron turns brown when it rusts, the combination of oxygen, ultraviolet and melanin produces the tan, the more of any of these elements are present the better and deeper the tan will be.

Tanning lamps use the best ratio of UV-B and UV-A light to provide optimal tanning results, with a lowered risk of overexposure. If I never can get a tan outside because I burn, can I get a tan indoors? If it takes you a while to get a tan outside, it may be easier for you to get the color you want (brown instead of red) by tanning indoors. You would need to start with a short exposure time, and increase it very gradually. However, if you NEVER tan from the sun, you will not tan from tanning lamps, since they emit the very same tanning rays as the sun does.

How often should I tan?

In order to build a tan, it is important to tan regularly. Don’t let too much time go by between visits, or your tan will begin to fade. You can tan up to once every 24 hours, but it is generally recommended that you wait at least 48 hours in between each session to allow your tan to fully develop in between visits. You can build up your tan by going to an indoor tanning facility three to four times a week. Once you have a tan, you can maintain it by tanning two or three times a week.

How long does it take to get a tan?

Usually, you will begin to notice results after a few tanning sessions, but it may take a few weeks of regular tanning (at least three times a week) to get to the color you are looking for. If you are developing a base tan before going on a trip, you would want to start tanning about three or four weeks before you go.

What should I wear?

It’s totally up to you. (But long pants and sweaters aren’t recommended for good results!) Some people choose to tan in their bathing suits or underwear, and others prefer a more “natural” approach. Since you are in a private room while tanning, you can wear whatever you like.

Should eyewear be used?

The only thing required is that you do wear eye protection every time you tan, because eyes are unable to protect themselves from UV light, even when they are closed, and the light can cause temporary and permanent damage to them. Many different eye protection options are available, or sometimes even provided free of charge if you forget yours, at all tanning facilities.

“Naked” skin?

If you are tanning a previously unexposed part of your body, be sure to cover it up for part of your tanning time, so it can catch up safely with the rest of your tan. You should also apply sun block to new tattoos, or to scars since these do not like exposure to sunlight in the first couple of weeks. What should I ask when shopping for a place to tan? There is one very important question to ask of a tanning facility to be sure it will meet your needs. What you need to know, obviously, is if you will get the best tan for your money. This isn’t just based on the prices, though. Be sure you don’t settle for a cheap tanning session that doesn’t give you results.

Heat VS Tanning.

If I get really hot in a bed or booth, am I getting a better tan? When you lay out in the sun to tan, you usually get really hot; so many times this is associated with getting tan. However, although the heat and the UV light both come from the sun, only the UV light affects tanning. This is why skiers can get sunburn in the middle of winter. If the sun is out, there is UV light reaching you, even when it’s cold out. The same thing is true with tanning bulbs. If you get too hot while tanning, it could indicate that there isn’t enough air conditioning at that facility, or the ventilation is poor. You should be comfortable while tanning. Since heat won’t give you better results – why put up with it?

When shouldn’t I tan?

It is not recommended to tan, either outdoors or indoors, if you are taking photosensitizing medication. If you aren’t sure, ask your doctor, or ask a tanning consultant at your tanning facility to see a list of these medications, which can greatly increase the risk of overexposure. You should also avoid tanning if you are pregnant, the light isn’t the problem, it is the heat from the beds that could cause later term problems.

Do I need to wear lotion when tanning indoors?

You don’t need to wear an SPF (Sun Protection Factor) lotion when you tan indoors because these lotions, by nature, are designed to allow you to spend a longer time in the sun. For example, an SPF 8 would allow you to stay in the sun 8 times longer than you normally could. Since you are controlling your exposure time when tanning indoors, you don’t need to use an SPF. You should also avoid using outdoor oils when you tan indoors. These oils will make the acrylic dirty and prevent you from tanning. However, there are products specifically designed for indoor tanning that help moisturize the skin while helping you tan faster. These can be purchased at most tanning facilities. These lotions really DO work by adding amino acids like L-Tyrosine the precursor tanning building blocks, they add copper, iron and other basic ingredients your body needs for a rich tan. Some have “accelerants” which are Vitamin E based, these work by increasing the blood supply to the surface of the skin while tanning thus bringing more oxygen to combine with the melanin producing a rich deep tan.

Is it true that any sun exposure will cause skin cancer?

Yes, ultraviolet light is believed to be linked to skin cancer. But no one understands exactly HOW it is linked. And since human beings NEED ultraviolet light to survive and thrive, categorical statements made about sun exposure should be scrutinized. Clearly, heredity, diet and repeated sunburn at an early age are probably the biggest risk factors for skin cancer. Plus, people with type 1 skin, those who can’t develop a tan, have the highest incidence of skin cancer. This supports the logic that sunburn, not mere sun exposure, is the culprit behind skin cancer. Consider that a 1995 study in the International Journal of Cancer reported that individuals who followed a low-fat diet had 90 percent fewer skin cancers. It’s clear that sun exposure is not the only factor in this disease and may not even be the main factor.

Is there no such thing as a safe tan?

Actually, you could say that it isn’t safe to totally avoid the sun. The benefits of regular sun exposure far outweigh the risks of overexposure, which easily can be minimized by merely avoiding sunburn. Research shows that regular, moderate sun exposure might actually decrease your risk of getting breast, colon, prostate and ovarian cancers as well as osteoporosis or even Alzheimer’s disease. If you’re a woman, you are 69 times more likely to die of breast cancer than skin cancer. And the vitamin D you receive from ultraviolet light, which cannot be replaced in your diet, may inhibit the formation of internal tumors, including breast cancer.

Do some dermatologists say tanning causes melanoma?

The FDA in 1995 held a conference on melanoma. The agency concluded there is no clear evidence to say tanning causes melanoma, the disease’s apparent link to ultraviolet light is still mysterious and unexplained. What’s more, many studies have shown that people who receive regular sun exposure have less chance of getting melanoma skin cancer than those who don’t.

Is there really is an epidemic of skin cancer in the world today?

No, there isn’t. Epidemics are events that happen suddenly and affect more than half of a group of people. Skin cancer rates have been rising steadily in the world since the early 1900s.

Are skin cancer rates rising because more people tan today than did in years past?

Skin cancer rates have risen steadily in the 1900s. And society spent less time outdoors this century than in any previous century. Remember, most people worked outdoors until the industrial revolution in the late 1800s. If anything, the fact people do not receive regular sun exposure, which makes them more susceptible to sunburn when they do go outdoors, may be linked to the increase in skin cancer this century. Again, moderate tanning has not been linked scientifically in any study as a cause of skin cancer.

Do people catch AIDS or herpes from tanning beds?

This is impossible. The HIV virus dies upon exposure to oxygen and would not survive on a tanning bed. What’s more, the U.S. Center for Disease Control says the odds of contracting any virus from a tanning bed are “extremely remote.” Furthermore, professional tanning salons sanitize tanning equipment before every tanning session.

Is indoor tanning riskier than outdoor tanning?

Absolutely not. Indoor tanning clients are exposed to a scientifically controlled dosage of ultraviolet light carefully formulated to tan you with a minimal risk of sunburn. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration have established exposure times for tanning units, guidelines that are clearly marked on each machine. That kind of control is virtually impossible outdoors, where variables such as seasonality, time of day, location, geography, weather conditions, altitude and the Earth’s thinning ozone layer make sunburn much more likely. Because sunburn is the main risk factor for skin damage, it’s actually smarter to tan indoors.

I heard about a woman who fried her internal organs from too much tanning.

“The Legend of the Roasted Tanner” is a farce. The fact is Ultraviolet light, whether from the sun or from a tanning unit, does not penetrate past your skin. It is impossible to “fry” any internal organs in a tanning bed. This myth is what is commonly referred to as an urban legend, perpetuated by ignorance of ultraviolet light and the tanning process.

Is tanning less popular as it used to be?

No. More than 28 million Americans tan indoors, a number that increases steadily year after year. More and more people are tanning for the control, convenience, speed and pure enjoyment of tanning in a salon.

Is indoor tanning is like a cigarette for your skin.

No. Smoking subjects your lungs to unnatural compounds that your body is not designed to process. Tanning is your body’s natural reaction to sunlight. Your body is designed to tan to help prevent sunburn. Your body is not designed to process cigarette smoke. Incidentally, smokers’ risk of contracting lung cancer is hundreds of times higher than non-smokers’ risk. On the other hand, in most studies conducted to date, indoor tanners and non-tanners have no statistically different risk of contracting skin cancer.