Tanning Beds and Burning

Woman on a tanning bed
Q: Do tanning beds prevent burning in the real sun?
A: No. Tanning in a tanning bed does NOT prevent sunburn. In fact, some tanning beds can be more harmful than spending an equivalent amount of time in the sun.
The only mitigating factors are the use of sunscreens with a sufficient SPF to prevent the burning rays from affecting the skin and the presence of melanin in the skin. The level of SPF in the sunscreen and the amount of melanin in the skin determine how much sun exposure the skin can tolerate.
Some of the newer models of tanning beds offer bulbs that filter and “moderate” the UV radiation to which you are exposed, but it should still be noted that because these appliances generate the same radiation as sunlight produces, they can be just as harmful.
The UV-A and UV-B rays of sunlight are reproduced by tanning beds. And it requires a combination of the two in order to properly tan the skin. The UV-B rays are the “burning rays” of the sun and overexposure can result in burning the skin. The UV-A rays are “aging” rays and destroy the skin’s reparative ability by damaging the skin cells, breaking down and preventing the creation of collagen and elastin in the skin.
Some people argue that tanning is good for you because the body needs sunlight in order to create Vitamin D. This is true, but the amount of sunlight needed by the body to produce all the Vitamin D it can use is FAR, FAR less than what would be needed for even the most sensitive person to get a tan.
If what you are looking for is a healthy, safe alternative to lying in the sun to get a bronzed look, you should try the sunless tanning lotions, and “spray tan” salons and studios that are opening up all over.
© Greatestlook.com
Photo: Didesign021/Shutterstock
See also:
How tanning works
How do I know I’m using the correct sunscreen for my skin type?