Facts, Tips & Myths
All you need to know
How the skin tans:
Tanning takes place thanks to the invisible part of the suns rays, the UV rays. When the UV is sensed by the skin, the top layer of the skin reacts to create a protective barrier. Skin colour is a hereditary factor determined by the pigment referred to as melanin which is produced when the skin is exposed to UV light - in particular, UVB.
UVA penetrates deeper into the skin and is responsible for darkening existing melanin. UVB stimulates increased melanin and vitamin D production. Over-exposure to UVB will cause sunburn which must be avoided. The natural darkening of the skin helps to protect it from burning. This combination of indirect and direct pigmentation, therefore, gives an outstanding tanning experience. With a number of skin type appropriate pre-sunbathing sessions on a sunbed, you can, therefore, achieve natural protection for your skin.
The Positive Effects Of The Sun
As well as giving you a great tan, a responsible approach to sunlight or tanning in a professional tanning salon can help generate vitamin D. The UVB rays in natural as well as artificial sunlight are vital for producing the vitamin D required for good health. Vitamin D3 is especially important here, as a substantial number of independent scientific research studies have found positive health effects have been attributed to it:
Here are a few examples:
* High levels linked to reduced incidence of melanoma
* High levels linked with a lower risk of many internal cancers
* Helps skin conditions such as psoriasis
* Positive effect on bone structure
* Improvement on calcium supply
* Helps prevent osteoporosis
* Helps to stimulate the immune system
* Increase in physical and mental capacity
* Helps relieve depression
* Helps reduction in cholesterol level
* Helps to strengthen the cardiovascular system
* High level of success for treating skin diseases, e.g. acne
* Prevention of abnormal cell growth
* Lowering effect on blood pressure
* Activation of happy hormones “Endorphines”
* Improvement in general well-being
* Pre-tanning on a sunbed reduces risk of sunburn
Do You Have Any Concerns About Tanning?
Unfortunately, there are a number of misconceptions about sunbeds and sunbed use, much of which is the result of regular misinformation in the popular press. This has meant that alot of people are unsure and confused about whether it is safe to use a sunbed or sunbathe.
So to try and clear the facts up, here are some brief answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about sunbeds and sunbathing.
CAN I GET SKIN CANCER FROM JUST USING A SUNBED?
No. All the medical and scientific evidence points to over-exposure - burning - as the factor that will increase your risk of developing skin cancer, particularly if the burning happens in childhood. Using a sunbed responsibly is a controlled way to obtain your tan through UV exposure. Indeed, there are now studies which show that regular UV exposure can actually help prevent the deadliest form of skin cancer, malignant melanoma.
DOES USING A SUNBED RAISE RISK OF CANCER BY 75%?
No. This is a very misleading statistic frequently used by the media. The figure comes from a crude analysis of selective studies and research. The figure indicates a relative risk factor which equates to 0.005775% relative risk increase if ever used a sunbed. Just to clarify, the relative risk factor figure includes the alleged 75% increase! However, the original studies (and therefore the analysis) did not adjust the finding for the skin type 1s should not sunbathe or use sunbeds. Neither did they exclude the UV devices used for medical purposes and this dramatically skewed the risk and is therefore misleading when discussing professional sunbeds. The analysis also omitted key studies, such as the Luxembourg Health Institute study and Leeds Cancer Institute study, which found no relationship between responsible sunbed use and melanoma. Inclusion of the skin type 1 adjustments and key omitted studies would have significantly reduced the already incredibly low relative risk factor of 0.005775%. It is important to note that relative risk is very different from real or actual risk. Relative risk is the probability factor of something happening if you do it, rather than not doing it.
CAN EVERYONE USE A SUNBED?
People with contra-indications to tanning, for example, skin type 1s (sensitive skin) under 18s and people on certain medications that may cause their skin to react to UV exposure should not use a sunbed or sunbathe at all.
Skin type 1s who wish to tan should use a sunless tanning option such as a Spray Tan.
SUNBEDS EMIT UV LEVELS UP TO 15 TIMES STRONGER THAN THE MIDDAY MEDITERRANEAN SUN?
No. Under British and EU standards, sunbeds are required to have a maximum output of 0.3W/m2 which is equivalent to the midday Mediterranean summer sun. Therefore, 10 minutes on a 0.3W/m2 compliant sunbed would be the same as 10 minutes in the midday Mediterranean sun. Non-compliant sunbeds may have higher UV emission levels. If in doubt, simply ask your sunbed operator.
HOW MANY TIMES A WEEK CAN I SENSIBLY USE A SUNBED?
Moderate tanning of 2-3 sessions per week is OK but it is important to leave a minimum of 48 hours between sessions. We recommend no more than 60 sessions in total per year.
WHY WILL SOME SALONS LET ME USE THEIR SUNBEDS FOR LONGER SESSIONS?
Different sunbeds have different power and UV output. However, since 2009 all sunbeds should operate with a maximum UV output colloquially referred to as ‘0.3’. This is the equivalent of the Mediterranean midday summer sun. A professional operator will advise accordingly with one objective; to avoid over-exposure and burning!
THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS A ’SAFE’ TAN
Tanned skin protects you against sunburn. Sunburn is thought to be the main cause of melanoma. If you avoid sunburn, the benefits of moderate sun exposure in the sun or on a sunbed far outweigh any risks.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF USING A SUNBED?
Bottom line it’s a controlled way to tan i.e avoiding burning. An individual tanning programme determines the correct session length for the sunbed being used and your skin type. Plus, very importantly, it can help maintain your vitamin D levels.
HOW DO SUNBEDS HELP AVOID VITAMIN D INSUFFICIENCY?
UV exposure is the main source of vitamin D production. Just a few minutes on a sunbed 2-3 times a week will enable your body to produce sufficient vitamin D. From October - May it is impossible to produce vitamin D from sunshine exposure in the UK or Ireland, as the sun is too weak. It is also very, very difficult to get enough daily vitamin D from diet and multivitamins.
SUNSHINE FOR EVERY SKIN TYPE
People react differently to the sun depending on their skin type. You should know your own skin type so that you can adapt your exposure to the sun and your sunbed use accordingly. There are six different skin types recognised in the world, the first four of which are indigenous in Europe. the following explanation of skin types only provides a rough classification. Therefore please get more in-depth advice from a member of our salon staff.
Skin Type 1 - Very light skin, red hair, blue eyes, very strong tendency to burn. People with Skin Type 1 should not sunbathe in the sun or use a sunbed.
Skin Type 2 - Light skin, blonde to light brown hair, blue-grey or green eyes, strong tendency to burn.
Skin Type 3 - Darker white skin, dark blonde to brown hair, grey to brown eyes, a moderate tendency towards burning.
Skin Type 4 - Light brown to olive skin, dark hair and eyes, very little tendency to burn.
CAN I GO ON A SUNBED WHEN PREGNANT?
If you have not been advised to avoid natural sunshine, you can also go on a sunbed. If in doubt, ask your doctor.
WHAT SHOULD BE TAKEN INTO ACCOUNT WHEN USING TANNING LOTIONS?
Only use lotions specifically designed for use with sunbeds. Provided that they have been medically or dermatologically tested, there is no reason to avoid using them. Do not use SPF lotions (for sunbathing outside) when using a sunbed. Tanning pills or creams that have not been tested are not advisable. In case of doubt, seek the advice of your doctor or pharmacist.
HOW LONG DOES THE TAN LAST?
Around two to four weeks after the last time you sunbathe. Due to the skin’s natural system of renewal, the top skin cells are gradually shed. After about 28 days the skin will have renewed itself. If the right care is taken, for example by using special sun cosmetics, the tan can last longer.
WHY DOESN’T THE SKIN TAN EVENLY?
The inside of arms and legs don’t tan as easily because they don’t have as many pigment forming cells as the rest of the skin. The face doesn’t tan as easily either because it naturally has a thicker corneal layer to protect itself from UVB. Freckles and pigment patches contain a high number of tanning pigments and therefore go a lot darker than other parts of the skin. The parts of the skin that take your weight have a poorer blood supply. A lack of oxygen can lead to a reduced colouring of melanin pigments.
WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I GET SUNBURN?
Mild sunburn is best left to wear off by itself. This means staying out of the sun for a few days, looking after your skin with moisturising products and drinking alot of water. In the case of severe sunbed, see your doctor or seek advice from your pharmacist.
HOW CAN I MAKE MY HOLIDAY TAN LAST LONGER?
You can go on a sunbed once or twice a week. A few minutes of tanning are enough to maintain your holiday tan. The recommended maximum number of sessions per year is 60.
CAN THE BODY PRODUCE ENOUGH VITAMIN D IN WINTER?
Not in our climate. However, the body stores vitamin D during sunny months in the fatty tissue. In winter this is released as it is required. However, a large number of recent studies have shown that the UK population and even sunnier European country populations have a seasonal or even long-term vitamin D insufficiency which could endanger their overall health.
For more information and responsible tanning advice visit: