The Truth About Tanning Beds

Angela Christiansen|January 13, 2015

Tanning beds

Do you use tanning beds?

Are you aware of the impact on your health from tanning beds?

Do you want to preserve the "age" of your skin?

As we enter the deep of winter, you may be tempted to find another solution to keep your golden tan from the summer months. Although any type of tanning is not recommended, tanning beds are especially harmful to your skin! Dr. Bailey discusses the damaging effects of tanning beds in her original blog post: "Indoor Tanning: How Many People Do It?"

What is the "Truth" About Tanning Beds?

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), indoor tanning is considered a group 1 carcinogen leading to various skin cancers: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma. Considering indoor tanning is still a relatively recent phenomenon, we have not even begun to see tanning beds' full impact on skin.  From a study in the 2014 April issue of JAMA Dermatology on indoor tanning, the authors postulate:

indoor tanning is a relatively new behavior that may be growing in popularity … so it is possible that the number of skin cancer cases due to indoor tanning will continue to surpass the number of lung cancer cases due to smoking in coming years.

As you can see there is no such thing as a "healthy tan" if achieved by UV radiation, naturally (sun) or artificially (tanning beds). Beyond the health effects, there are other long-term damages on the skin including wrinkles. Wrinkles are one consequence of tanning that most women wish to avoid. However, there is no way to get a tan without avoiding the accelerated aging of your skin. In Dr. Bailey's own words:

We have conclusive proof that tanning leads to wrinkles – it’s a guarantee.

UV radiation disrupts the cell matrix of your skin, which the WHO explains in detail"UVB  stimulates cell proliferation in the outer layer of the skin."  Meanwhile, UVA penetrates the connective tissue in the deeper layers of your skin, resulting in less elasticity. Also the overproduction of melanin in localized areas creates dark spots that are difficult to lighten or remove. If you want to prevent the aging of your skin, do not tan.

For a practice trying to enhance your beauty, indoor tanning is perhaps one of the most detrimental practices for your skin's appearance in the long-term!

What is an Alternative to Tanning Beds?

Consider applying self-tanning lotion to achieve the "bronzed look." Dr. Bailey finds the best way to apply self-tanning lotions are to first exfoliate your skin with Dr. Bailey's Anti-Aging Body Skin Care Kit. This kit creates a smoother and more even surface for application and absorption. Then a self-tanning lotion or Dr. Bailey's favorite Avene Self Tanning Lotion. For more detail, read Dr. Bailey's 3 steps to self tan like a pro. best skin care for smooth summer skin best self tanner Avene

Do Self Tanners Protect Your Skin From UV?

NO!  Self tanning lotion does not provide protection from UV. Wearing broad spectrum with physical blockers such as zinc oxide, protects your skin from both UVA and UVB rays. Check out the variety of sunscreens Dr. Bailey recommends depending on your needs: sports, acne, all-natural etc. Also tinted sunscreens, aka BB creams, are a great way to minimize your morning routine by working as both a makeup primer/light coverup and sunscreen. Dr. Bailey's favorite tinted sunscreen for dry to normal skin is Suntegrity 5-in-1 BB Facial Sunscreen and for normal to oily skin is MDSolar Sciences Mineral Tinted Creme.  

Suntegrity 5 in 1 Natural Moisturizing Face Sunscreen best sunscreen to prevent sunspots  

The Take Home Message 

Now that you have learned the truth about tanning beds, you can stop the long-term damage to your skin.  Dr. Bailey personally knows the allure of tanningas an avid tanner during her teen and college years. However, she realized the dangers of tanning during her residency as a dermatologist. After stopping her tanning practices and wearing sunscreen daily, she watched her skin start to look younger than ever before! It is never too late to start protecting your skin. If you have overcome your tanning bed addiction, please share your story below. Also if you have any questions about the topics we have discussed let us know as well!      

References International Prevalence of Indoor Tanning, Mackenzie R. Wehner, MPhil; Mary-Margaret Chren, MD et. al., JAMA Dermatology. 2014;150(4):390-400 "The Known Health Effects of UV." WHO. WHO, n.d. Web. 13 Jan. 2015.

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