Tanning Beds: How Bad are they?


Woman lying in a tanning bed (credit: Rob Engelhardt for usatoday.com)

Trinity Hensley, Staff Writer

Since the day of my 18th birthday, I have been using tanning beds. Quickly, I fell in love with tanning because I had a sun-kissed look in the middle of winter. My friends would relentlessly tell me how bad tanning was and how one day I’ll get skin cancer, even though I only used the beds at most twice a week, but I always wondered how bad tanning beds truly were.

In general, any form of tanning- sun or beds causes skin cell damage caused the ultraviolet radiation. The UV rays can lead to early skin aging, as in wrinkles, age spots, lax skin and more (skincancer.org).

Some believe that tanning indoors is healthier for the skin, when in reality there is no safe way to tan. Studies show that those who use indoor tanning, before the age of 35, increase their chances of being diagnosed with melanoma close to 70% (aad.org).

Many people also believe that tanning beds give a healthy dose of vitamin D, which is not true. The bulbs from the beds emit a UVA light and our bodies need UVB light to create vitamin D. Studies also show, that beds will cause stretch marks to become more visible, rather than camouflaging into the skin (aad.org).

However, if one does decide to use an indoor tanning bed, they should use indoor tanning lotion. The indoor lotions are very different from outdoor because they contain no SPF because, using the tanning beds, one’s body is only exposed to a certain amount of UV light, while outdoor lotions have SPF to limit the UV exposure  (beauty.thefuntimesguide.com).

Also, indoor tanning lotions are designed for quicker and more intense UV exposure, causing the skin to darken faster. Rather than the outdoor tanning lotions that are created for long time periods in the sun. Many indoor tanning lotions also contain bronzer that colors the skin as it is applied, and can reduce the amount of time spent in the beds to achieve the desired skin color (beauty.thefuntimesguide.com).

Before I started using tanning beds I knew tanning, in general, was not good for the skin at all. After further research, I now know how bad it is for the skin. Will I stop using the tanning beds? Probably not, honestly, because I love the color it makes me and that’s my decision. What’s your decision?