The Dangers of Fake Tanning Through UV Rays

Sunbeds… they achieve that instantly bronzed, sun-kissed look everyone craves all year round; however, the effects Ultraviolet rays have on your skin could make you rethink your next tanning appointment.

So, should UV tanning be avoided to save our skin?

The answer is yes, sunbeds emit ultraviolet (UV) rays that have serious negative health effects on your skin. Regularly tanning through UV rays may be part of your weekly routine but it’s important you should know all the dangers sunbeds can cause. These can include skin cancer (melanoma and non-melanoma), premature aging, cataracts, immune system suppression and other skin or eye damage. 

According to the World Health Organisation, around 10% of UK adults regularly use sunbeds, this is around 6.7 million people who are putting themselves at risk of these serious health effects in each of their appointments. 

Many people think tanning on a sunbed is safer than tanning in natural sunlight because sunbed lamps can be controlled to balance the output of UV, minimising the risk of burning and maximising tanning. However, evidence shows that this is not the case. There is no such thing as a “safe tan”, both methods can equally increase the risk of developing skin cancer.

When your body “tans” it is the production of Melanin caused by UVA radiation penetrating lower layers of the skin. The browning of the skin is your body’s natural way to protect itself from the damaging effects of UV rays. So, although you may want that golden summer glow, it may be at the expense of your health. 

The overwhelming dangers of tanning through UV rays continue as using sunscreen whilst tanning on a sunbed, is not an option. SPF lotion is used to protect the skin from UV light so using a sun lotion during a tanning session will stop the skin absorbing vitamin D consequently stopping a tan from forming, making that session pointless. Yet if not protected, the skin is again put at risk so maybe think again before topping up your tan. 

The NHS website says, “people who are frequently exposed to UV rays before the age of 25 are at greater risk of developing skin cancer later in life” and just ten minutes in a sunbed compares to about 2 hours in direct sunlight reinforcing again the great risks that come with getting a tan.

The ever-growing influence of the media portrays a tan to be an attractive necessity for the summer months, suggesting a person looks ‘healthier’ with one and those who are “too pale” should use a sunbed. For example, Girlsaskguys.com says “being pale is considered unattractive because to most people it makes them look sickly”. Therefore, so many people feel the need to live up to societal expectations, but this is at the risk of their own physical health.

Skincancer.org analysed a study “observing 63 women diagnosed with melanoma before age 30” and found that 61 of them (97%) had used tanning beds. It is clear that the media’s influence on what is considered “attractive” has had a huge impact on peoples’ state of mind and how they perceive themselves. The media regularly hides the dangers of tanning, and this is why the negative health effects should be highlighted.   

If you regularly book a sunbed as a part of your weekly routine, I hope you now know all the health effects and dangers tanning through UV rays has on your body. And exposing yourself frequently to these toxins just for a tan is not the best idea. 

But everyone wants a tan so what should you use instead?  

Self-tanners and spray tans are a safer, alternative way to gain that fresh golden glow you crave all without exposing your skin to the sun. 

Here’s a list of some streak free, easy-to-use fake tan brands you could try:

  • Moriz (£4)
  • BOD (£8-£14.99)
  • Doll Beauty (£10)
  • Hawaiian tropic (£14)
  • Bondi Sands (£11-£14.99)
  • Isle of Paradise (£16-£19)
  • Bali body (£26)

By Amber Bakin

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