You see it on the television, in magazines, and on billboards. That perfect tan: bronze, even, and glowing. So many people seek it, that people are buying their own tanning beds. The accessibility of tanning facilities has increased drastically because of the popularity among celebrities with unnatural tans. However, the controversy rages on about whether tanning beds are really as harmful as many people claim. After researching, the truth has unfolded on the benefits and harms of tanning beds. Some of the following research has been done by the US National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health.
I’ve heard that tanning increases levels of Vitamin D…
Many tanning facilities promote health benefits such as stimulating the production of vitamin D and increasing mood. In fact, The Indoor Tanning Association claims “catching some rays may lengthen your life.” Tanning can help produce much needed vitamin D. However, only a moderate amount of sun exposure to the hands, face, and arms is needed every other day to produce enough vitamin D for a light skinned person, even if their requirements are raised. For people with darker skin types and in cold weather, sunlight exposure as the only source of vitamin D may be impractical. Therefore, a diet enriched with vitamin D (even if only by taking a multi-vitamin), and very moderate exposure to sunlight could be considered for acquiring optimal amounts of vitamin D.
I’ve also heard that using tanning beds can give a “base tan” to prevent burning from future sun exposure…
Indoor tanning is a huge phenomenon currently in the United States. eight to twenty percent of adults, seven to thirty-five percent of teens, and more specifically up to forty-eight percent of 18-19 year old Caucasian females engage in indoor tanning. This is promoted by peers, family acceptance, and the media. American society constantly promotes an ideal body for either a male or female as tan.
However, outside of insecurities caused by heavy exposure to media ideals, and peer pressure, tanning can become addictive. As if the addictive properties and lack of health benefits are not scary enough, there’s more health risks.
Tanning, including tanning indoors, has been proven to cause UV radiation. In turn, UV radiation causes numerous kinds of damage to the skin. This includes premature aging in the form of wrinkling or age spots, and more seriously, different forms and levels of skin cancer. The risk of developing melanoma is doubled for individuals who started using tanning beds before the age of 35.
To the left shows a women after repeated sun damage. To the right a picture of a trucker, showing the difference of damage to their left cheek, which was commonly exposed to the sun, and their right side, commonly kept in shadows. (credit google images)
So could indoor tanning actually be healthy?
No. But there are other options out there, such as sunless tanning sprays and lotions.
Or the less expensive option of making a healthy decision separate from what you’re brainwashed to believe on T.V. So instead of idolizing celebrities and models that promote an unhealthy tan and damaging your skin to follow suit.
Choose to find beauty in your own true skin color: pale, olive, dark. Just make sure to take good care of it!