Most indoor tanning beds are great for people who do not want to expose themselves to harmful rays of the sun, but be careful – not all of them are safe. In fact, poorly-designed indoor tanning beds that still use older technologies can be more harmful than the sun. So before you invest thousands of dollars on a unit, read this first. This lowdown on indoor tanning beds will help you make an intelligent purchase decision.
Avoid UVB emitters
Older indoor tanning beds used shortwave ultraviolet rays (UVB) which are proven to cause not only burning, but also eye injury, premature aging (as shown by dryness and fine lines), allergic rashes, and even skin cancer in extreme cases.
Go for indoor tanning beds that use long wave (UVA) light, which is the latest in tanning technology. Many manufacturers claim that this kind of tanning bed is much safer than older models, but tests have shown that unlike lower-technology beds, they are less likely to cause burning.
The bottom line: Always be sure that the indoor tanning bed you want to buy does not use UVB. If the bed is way cheaper than other models, it's time to be suspicious. Read the manual or ask the manufacturer about this directly. The same caution should be applied when you are renting indoor tanning beds in tanning salons. Ask the attendant about the technology that their beds use.
No such thing as perfect
Keep in mind that while UVA beds are generally regarded to be much safer than their UVB counterparts, some studies are already being conducted regarding their link to immune system damage and malignant melanoma. Studies have recently shown that overexposure even to ‘friendlier' UVA rays can also damage cornea, and frequent exposure can cause the eyes to firm cataracts. Indoor tanning bed manufacturers say this can be easily remedied by wearing goggles, and they could very well be right. So be sure to take all precautionary measures when tanning. It is your health, after all.
When NOT to use indoor tanning beds
You should avoid using indoor tanning beds altogether if you have medical conditions that may be aggravated by UV rays, artificial or otherwise. If you are presently on medication for lupus or diabetes, for example, then it is best to stay away. Are you prone to cold sores? Then put your tanning plans on hold. If you are taking prescriptions which you think may affect your skin's ability to handle tanning, ask your doctor for advice before you head out to the nearest tanning salon or buy your own indoor tanning bed. Drugs like birth control pills, antihistamines, and tranquilizers can make your skin very sensitive to UV light and therefore burn or age easily when exposed. Be sure to at least tell the tanning salon about your medical history. Most salons keep files – and if yours doesn't, walk away and find another. You want a salon that truly cares for your overall well-being, not just the $30 you pay them for bronzing you up.