Having a tan may help you look healthy and radiant but the likelihood of a sun drenched summer, winter and spring is a distant dream for most of us. Although they’re not the most kosher way to get a tan, sunbeds and tanning booths are still one of the most popular methods to achieve a golden glow.
More and more research shows that sunbeds may cause cancer if they are not used correctly. So make sure you visit a reputable sunbed centre that adheres to The Sunbed Association Code of Practice and be sure to follow their directions carefully.
Sunbeds make the process of ‘catching some rays’ a whole lot easier. With no need to rely on natural sunlight, the beds and booths produce enough ultraviolet (UV) light to boost the amount of melanin pigment in your skin. This in turn darkens the skin and voila, leaves you tanned to perfection.
Typical tanning sessions tend to last between 3 and 30 minutes, but any longer than that and you’ll be putting yourself at risk. Because the UV rays come from fluorescent lighting in much higher concentrations than sunlight, your skin requires a lot less exposure time to achieve your desired tanning result.
When choosing between tanning beds and booths, the outcomes are the same and the processes very similar; the only difference being that with a sunbed you lie under the UV rays, whereas with a booth, the treatment is performed vertically and you simply stand in the booth until your tanning time is up. Although most sunbed centres provide both options, the booths are becoming increasingly widespread. Not only are they considered to be more hygienic, but because clients have no direct contact with the machine, you don’t sweat as much either.
There is no strict door policy for a sunbed but if it’s your first time, it’s advisable to wear a swimsuit, speedos or a bikini so as not to burn those especially sensitive parts.
Sunlight promotes the production of vitamin D in the body and can also be great for combating skin problems including psoriasis, eczema, rickets or jaundice. But be aware that too much of a good thing can be bad! Eye damage, premature ageing and skin cancer are all potential long term consequences of extensive sunbed use but can sometimes take up to 20 years to develop, so just because you don't see any initial side effects doesn't mean you'll be left unscathed.
Depending on your race and natural skin colour, the time it takes to get a tan varies with everyone, so be responsible and make sure that you reduce your time spent on a sunbed if you have sensitive skin. Too much and too frequent exposure to ultraviolet light can lead to sunburn and potential longer term skin issues, so make sure you always use the goggles provided and try not to exceed more than two sessions per week.
Fair skinned bods and English roses should avoid the glare of the sunbed altogether, as should those with numerous freckles or moles.
As a general rule, only adults should use sunbeds. European regulation states that sunbeds should not be used on anyone under the age of 16 and there is increasing pressure to increase the minimum age to 18.
If you want a golden glow without the risks, a spray tan is definitely the way to go - the likes of Fake Bake and St Tropez are well-known for their natural looking finish.