Tanning Beds VS Natural Sunlight


Getting a “natural glow” is on tons of American’s agendas.  Every week or perhaps everyday, many people make it a priority to hit the tanning beds or lay out in the sun to alter the color of their skin to look healthier.  The truth is UV radiation is the number one cause of skin cancer -both non-melanoma and melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.  A lot of us are aware of this but we still choose to expose ourselves to this risk.

Many people think that indoor tanning causes less damage than outdoor tanning and still contains the benefits of natural sunlight… this is NOT TRUE.  This is the way tanning industry is marketing to consumers.  Lots of people who hit the beds do not protect themselves with sunscreen because it is “indoor.”  This is dangerous, as the bulbs in lamps and beds still emit radiation stronger than the sun itself.  Tanning beds use bulbs that emit UVA radiation that are three times more intense than natural UVA rays from the sun. Also because it is artificial, you do not receive the vitamin D benefits that natural sun gives. 

Outdoor tanning is more natural, however terrible sunburns can more than double someone’s risk in developing skin cancer.  Invisible UVB rays (which are also contained at the same strength as tanning beds) alter the genetic structures in the skin cells permanently, which is thought to lead to skin cancer.  When the skin is burnt, it produces chemicals in the outermost layer of the skin that can seep into the deeper layers of the skin, irritating the blood vessels, giving the skin its red flush appearance.  This form of radiation also attacks melanocytes within the skin, contributing to melanoma and other skin cancers.

Besides skin cancer, tanning will cause premature skin aging, which can be seen overtime with wrinkles, sunspots, and leather-like skin.

It is highly unlikely that we will stop exposing ourselves to the sun, so here are some tips to protecting yourself:

-Do NOT use tanning beds

-Avoid direct sunlight when the UV index is strongest between 10 am and 4 pm (there are ways to check this such as the news, internet search, tanning apps)

-WEAR SUNSCREEN (SPF 15+) if being in the sunrays is unavoidable

-Wear protective layers such as hats, sunglasses, and light long sleeves