It isn’t uncommon for people to use sunbeds before special occasions such as going on holiday or going to a wedding. However, there are people out there who like to use them on a more regular basis to maintain sun-kissed skin. But are they safe to use even if it’s just “every now and then”?

What are sunbeds?

Sunbeds are mechanical tanning booths that come in different varieties and styles – they emit ultraviolet (UV) rays which triggers the production of melanin in the skin. Melanin determines the colour of your skin and hair – the levels of melanin vary from one person to another depending on their ancestry. As melanin rises to the skin’s surface, it becomes brown thus resulting in a tan. UVA and UVB rays speed up melanin production which results in quicker darkening of the skin as opposed to a natural tan from sunlight.

Why are sunbeds risky?sunbeds

Rays from the sun itself are only 5% UVB rays whilst modern sunbeds are considerably higher. This makes them damaging to the skin. Also, it is a safety requirement for all sunbed users to wear protective goggles to prevent eye damage from the UV rays. It’s important that you understand your own personal risk factors if you choose to use sunbeds; this includes session lengths, your skin type, medical conditions, ancestry, and your age.

The darker a person naturally is, the more melanin is in their skin which means they are better protected by UV rays – hence why people with a pale complexion are more prone to burning. Although sunbeds are a controlled way of exposing your skin to UV rays, regular long-term use could lead to a number of skin issues and cancer. Skin cancer is currently the most common type of cancer in the world and overexposure to UV rays only increases a sunbed user’s chance of developing it.

How can you tan safely?

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) recently issued advice and the health risks to consider when using tanning equipment. They stated you should not use sunbeds if;

  • You have a lot of moles.
  • You have a pale complexion/red hair/ freckles and are prone to burning.
  • You have a history of severe sunburn especially during childhood.
  • You take medication that makes you more sensitive to light.
  • You or someone else in your family has had skin cancer.
  • You already have badly sun damaged skin.
  • You are pregnant.

If you do choose to use sunbeds then it’s important that it is used in moderation and precautions are taken. You can minimise damage to your skin by;

  • Going no more than twice a week to build a gradual tan.
  • Covering sensitive parts of your skin such as genitals and nipples.
  • Wearing the goggles provided to prevent eye damage.
  • Keeping your skin moisturised and well looked after outside of the tanning salon.

It is also a good idea to use a tanning accelerator to speed up the tanning process which means less tine spent on the sunbed. Ingredients in a decent tanning accelerator such as L-tyrosine will help the skin build a deeper, darker tan more quickly whilst simultaneously protecting it from the harmful rays.

So if you’re planning on heading to the tanning salon anytime soon, remember the above and always look after the skin you have.

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