Mayo Clinic: My daughter wanted to go to a tanning bed before
prom, but, instead, she opted for a spray tan. But a lot of
her friends are going to a tanning bed and think itís
relatively safe. Is there such a thing as a tanning bed that
doesnít damage the skin?
short answer to your question is no. Tanning beds are not
safe, and there arenít any that donít damage the skin.
Your daughter is smart to avoid tanning beds and choose a
spray tan instead to get the look she wants for prom.
beds have been around for many years, and some people believe
using them to get a tan is safer than exposure to sunlight.
That is simply not true. Exposure to ultraviolet, or UV,
radiation damages your skin, whether the exposure comes from
tanning beds or natural sunlight.
of UV radiation emitted by most tanning beds is called UVA. It
prematurely ages your skin, causing wrinkling and age spots.
UVA exposure also raises the risk for skin cancer, including
melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. According to a
study from researchers at the University of North Carolina,
roughly 263,000 skin cancers occurred in the U.S. in 2015 that
were attributable to indoor tanning bed use.
of the health dangers, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration
now requires all tanning beds to carry a warning label stating
that people under 18 should not use them. Several states have
passed laws against children and teens using tanning beds.
Many dermatologists would like to see tanning beds outlawed
for children and adults alike, nationwide.
common misconception about tanning beds is that using one
prior to a tropical vacation to get whatís sometimes called
a "base tan" will protect against sunburn once a
person reaches the sunny destination. Again, thereís no
basis in fact here.
tanning bed before you spend a lot of time in the sun just
means youíre exposing yourself to more UV radiation. The
best way to prevent sunburn on a sunny vacation is to use a
broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor, or SPF,
of at least 30, and reapply it often. For the best skin
protection, couple sunscreen with a broad-brim hat, and wear
sunglasses and other sun wear such as sun-protective clothing.
bottom line is that thereís no such thing as a healthy tan,
unless itís an artificial tan that comes from a spray or
lotion. The spray tan your daughter opted for is a fine
choice. The active ingredient in spray tans and other sunless
tanning products, such as lotions and creams, is the color
additive dihydroxyacetone. When applied to the skin, it reacts
with dead cells in the skinís surface to temporarily darken
the skin and simulate a tan. The coloring typically wears off
after a few days.
keep in mind that most sunless tanning products donít
contain sunscreen. If a product contains sunscreen, it will
only be effective for a couple of hours. The color produced by
a sunless tanning product doesnít protect your skin from UV
rays. If you use a sunless tanning product and spend time
outdoors, you still need a broad-spectrum sunscreen to keep
your skin safe from UV radiation.