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Dermatologists are always warning us about the dangers of spending too much time in the sun unprotected. But what about tanning salons? Are they safer for you because there’s no sunlight involved?

uv radiation is damaging, regardless of the source

The definitive answer is no! Tanning beds or salons are most certainly just as harmful for your skin as nature’s sunlight. Tanning beds emit UV radiation, just like the sun. UV radiation is a carcinogen, and it is damaging to you, regardless of the source.

Tanning beds can wreak havoc on your skin in all the same ways regular sunlight does, like accelerating premature aging, and causing sunburn or even skin cancer. Case in point, people who first use a tanning bed before the age of 35 increase their chance of getting melanoma (the most dangerous type of skin cancer) by 75%! It’s for that reason that in many states, use of tanning beds is restricted or banned for minors.

tanning salons can be worse than the sun

And in fact, tanning beds can emit more UVA light (that causes premature aging) than the sun! So, it really is a myth that hopping into a tanning salon is better for you than baking in the sun. Prolonged exposure to UV radiation, whether it’s naturally occurring or artificial, is a no-no. Sorry to say, there’s no “safe” amount of exposure; having a tan means you’ve sustained some damage to your skin cells.

Of course, some of us like having a tan and feel it gives us a glow or a healthier look. If you want to look tan, try sunless tanning products or a spray tan for an artificial glow without damaging your skin. And, when you are outside come summertime, remember to slather on that sunscreen to keep your skin protected!

Sources: Skin Cancer Foundation, American Academy of Dermatology, LiveWell with UnityPoint Health


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