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Some people want to achieve beautiful sun-kissed skin quickly, without spending hours in the sun, to enhance their appearance, which is why they turn to tanning beds.
Tanning beds are equipment that replicates the effects of sunlight by using artificial UV radiation to provide users an instant tan. They are designed to allow the user to lie down inside them for complete body and face tanning.
However, some people wish to tan only their body and not their face because face skin tends to be more sensitive than the rest of the body or because they’ve had bad experiences in the past with face tanning.
So, protecting your face while using a tanning bed seems like a sensible thing to do.
However, experts advise against the use of tanning beds for tanning any region of the body and not just the face. This is due to the potential adverse effects of tanning beds, which include sunburn, skin damage, and skin cancer. (1)
But if you still wish to use a tanning bed to tan your body while protecting your face, you’re in the right place. This article will discuss how to prevent face tanning while using a tanning bed.
Tips to Prevent Tanning of the Face on a Tanning Bed
The following tips can help prevent tanning of the face on a tanning bed.
1. Use a sunscreen
Applying sunscreen to your face before getting on a tanning bed is a must. Choose a sunscreen with a high SPF, preferably above 30.
2. Use protective gear
When getting on a tanning bed, it’s important to use protective gear. Wear a pair of goggles to protect your eyes from the UV rays.
Failure to do so may result in eye irritation or conjunctivitis in the short term and cataracts, which is clouding of the eye’s lens, in the long term. Simply closing your eyes or using cotton wool is not sufficient eye protection and is not recommended.
Some experts also suggest the use of a hat while using a tanning bed for added protection for your neck and ears. Also, covering the exposed region of the face with a clean breathable towel might help protect the face more.
3. Limit your exposure
It’s important to limit your exposure to the tanning bed. Experts suggest starting with short sessions of 5–10 minutes and gradually increasing the time.
Don’t stay on the tanning bed for too long, as this can cause overexposure to the UV rays. Prolonged exposure to UV tanning equipment can result in the skin becoming painful and red, and in some cases, blistering and peeling may occur.
Also, it is important to note that UV radiation can significantly increase the risk of skin cancer in the future. Therefore, it is essential to limit your time on UV tanning equipment. (1)(4)
4. Go to a trustworthy place with safe UV levels
The level of UV radiation emitted by tanning beds is much higher than that of the sun in the Mediterranean.
According to the Sunbed Association, tanning beds in Europe must comply with regulations that limit the UV output to 0.3 watts per square meter. This is based on advice from the European Commission’s Scientific Committee on Consumer Products, which considers this level of UV radiation to be equivalent to exposure to tropical sun, which is still considered extreme by the World Health Organization (WHO). (5)
Sadly, not all tanning salons comply with these regulations. A survey conducted in 2013 found that 9 out of 10 tanning beds exceeded the maximum UV radiation levels set by the European Union, posing a significantly higher risk of skin cancer.
5. Avoid peak hours
Peak hours are the times of the day when the sun’s rays are the strongest. It’s important to avoid getting on a tanning bed during these hours as this can increase your risk of getting a tan on your face.
Instead, choose to tan during the early morning or late afternoon, when the sun’s rays are not as strong. (5)
6. Inform the staff about your skin and health
It’s important to inform tanning bed staff about your skin and general health. You need to ensure that you are medically fit to use the equipment and that you are not taking any medication or alternative therapies that could increase the sensitivity of your skin.
Secondly, your skin type is another important factor to consider when using tanning equipment. Your skin’s normal reaction to sunlight should be communicated to the staff. (5)
7. Prepare your skin beforehand
To avoid any issues with tanning, it is recommended not to use cosmetics, deodorants, or accelerants while on a tanning bed. Before using the equipment, it is important to wash off any such products on your skin and ensure that the equipment is clean.
This will help to prevent any adverse reactions that may occur due to the combination of these products with UV radiation from the tanning bed. (5)
Are Tanning Beds Safer Alternatives to Suntanning?
Tanning beds are often considered safe alternatives to sunbathing, but this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Despite claims made by the Sunbed Association that tanning beds provide a specific dose of UV in a controlled environment, it’s important to note that there is no safe level of ultraviolet radiation (UVR) exposure.
Any exposure to UVR, whether it is from the sun or a tanning bed, increases the risk of skin cancer. (6)
So, using a tanning bed to achieve a tan is not any safer than tanning in the sun. In fact, according to the NHS, it may even be more harmful if:
- The strength of the UV rays from tanning beds is very high.
- You frequently use tanning beds for tanning.
- You lay in the tanning bed for a very long duration each session.
- Your skin is prone to sun/UV damage. (6)
Moreover, a report published by the WHO states that the UVR from tanning beds has the same physical characteristics as the UVR reaching the earth from the sun.
In addition to causing cancer, using tanning beds carries an increased risk of sunburn, accelerated skin aging, and eye inflammation.
Therefore, tanning beds are not a safe alternative to sunbathing, and it’s important to limit exposure to UVR by wearing protective clothing, seeking shade, and avoiding the use of tanning beds altogether. (7)
Who Should Not Use Tanning Beds?
It is not recommended for anyone to use tanning beds due to the health risks associated with exposure to UV radiation, regardless of skin type.
However, if you are considering using a tanning bed, it is important to follow the guidelines set out by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
The HSE advises against using UV tanning equipment if you have:
- Fair or sensitive skin that burns easily or tans poorly
- History of sunburn (especially in childhood)
- Many freckles
- Red hair
- Numerous moles
- Medication that makes your skin sensitive to sunlight
- Medical conditions exacerbated by sunlight
- Family history of skin cancer
- Severely sun-damaged skin
It is important to carefully consider the risks before deciding to use a tanning bed and to consult a medical professional if you have any concerns about the potential health effects of UV radiation. (5)
What Are Some Risks Involved With Using Tanning Beds?
The use of tanning beds carries several risks, some of which can have severe consequences on your health. The UV radiation emitted by tanning beds is similar to that from natural sunlight, and thus, the same health concerns arise from both.
In particular, the risk of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, increases in individuals who use a tanning bed before the age of 35. Moreover, regular exposure to UV radiation can cause the skin to age prematurely, leading to wrinkles, sagging, and age spots.
Eye damage, such as cataracts and macular degeneration, can also result from excessive UV exposure. Finally, UV radiation can suppress the immune system, leaving the body vulnerable to infections and diseases.
These risks underscore the importance of avoiding the use of tanning beds and practicing safe sun exposure practices. (1)
Why Do People Get a Tan?
While most people with dark skin tones desire fairer skin, those with naturally fair skin often want to add a bit more color to their appearance, which is why they opt for fake tans. It is a common culture seen in celebrities and public figures such as social media influencers.
According to a study, some people desire to get a tan to enhance their physical appearance and due to social pressure and the troublesome belief that having a tan provides protection against sunburn. (8)
Additionally, some people view tanning as a relaxing and enjoyable activity that can improve their mood and reduce stress. Others may associate a tan with healthy living and an active outdoor lifestyle.
Do Tanning Beds Help You Get More Vitamin D?
No, you should not use a tanning bed to get more vitamin D. While it is true that UV light is a natural source of vitamin D, the risks associated with tanning bed use, including skin damage and an increased risk of skin cancer, outweigh the potential benefits.
The European Commission’s Scientific Committee on Health, Environmental and Emerging Risks has stated that there is no need to use tanning beds to induce vitamin D production because alternative sources of vitamin D are readily available.
Do tanning beds cause cancer?
Yes, tanning beds do cause cancer. The UV rays emitted by tanning beds can cause damage to DNA, increasing the risk of different types of skin cancer, including malignant melanoma, which is the most serious form of skin cancer.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer, a branch of the WHO, has classified tanning beds as a group 1 carcinogen due to the overwhelming evidence proving the link between tanning bed use and cancer.
Therefore, it is essential to avoid tanning beds and other sources of UV radiation to reduce the risk of developing skin cancer. (10)
Can I use tanning beds for reasons other than tanning?
Tanning beds are primarily used for tanning purposes. However, some individuals may also use tanning beds for other reasons, such as to enhance vitamin D levels, get relief from certain skin conditions such as psoriasis, and even for relaxation purposes. However, experts advise against all of them.
Getting a tan through a tanning bed comes with a set of risks, one of which is face tanning. However, by taking the necessary precautions, you can prevent this from happening.
Remember to prepare your skin, use sunscreen, use protective gear, limit your exposure, and avoid peak hours. By following these tips, you can get a beautiful sun-kissed look without damaging your skin.