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The Perils of Sunbeds

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Unfortunately, in recent years fashion seems to think that it’s cool to dictate to people that they should have a suntan.   This is why  there are more and more tanning products appear on supermarket shelves and sun tanning booths on many high streets. Whereas many years ago women would do everything to retain a pale and porcelain complexion, from wearing large hats in the sun to holding parasols to avoid darkening their skin, nowadays the opposite is true.  In the West a tan is believed to be beautiful, a symbol of wealth and success.   And a  healthy glow is fine, but as long as it’s achieved sensibly and with caution.

Fake It Don’t Bake It

As it so happens, it’s easy to achieve a golden glow without harming your skin especially with fake tan.  Yes it’s true, practice makes perfect but a streak-free bronzed look is achievable without stepping foot outside.  However, despite there being healthy ways of achieving a good looking tan people are still attracted to dangerous sunbeds, which not only cause premature aging, they also contribute to skin cancerous melanoma – that is a fact.  Additionally, if sunbeds aren’t kept meticulously clean they can spread infection such as viral warts which are very difficult to get rid of.

Say No To Melanoma

We know sunbeds are dangerous.   Sunbed use raises the chance of developing melanoma by 59% (according to Cancer Research UK figures) which is exceptionally worrying.  This figure alone should be enough to scare anyone into reaching for the self-tan bottle rather than running down to the local sun-tanning booth.  It’s no co-incidence that the World Health Organisation also lists sunbeds as a group 1 carcinogen.  Interestingly, tobacco is also classified as group 1, and both are dangerous because they cause cancer yet both are still available to use, often not regulated properly.

If you’ve ever considered using a sunbed to improve your tan or even to develop a tan so you don’t need to sit on a sun lounger on vacation – stop!  You should reconsider because they are extremely harmful, emitting far higher UV levels than the sun. Sunbeds can even be twice as dangerous as sitting in a hot Mediterranean sun in the middle of the day and should come with a large label attached to them stating “cancer risk”.  Even 60 seconds on a sunbed will cause your skin terrible trauma, and while you can’t see what happens to your skin with the exception of a colour change, the damage is irreversible

Don’t cook your skin

Sitting in the sun or using a sun bed is effectively cooking skin which is why it darkens, producing melanin which is the skin’s natural reaction to the sun and a pigment. The skin releases melanin it does this to protect itself from the UV rays from the sun.  The mere fact your skin is trying to protect itself should tell you enough.  Your skin is warning you that it is being attacked and even slight exposure without sufficient protection can cause enough damage to begin a cancerous melanoma which might not be spotted until many years later. Just because you can’t see the damage a sunbed is causing your skin doesn’t mean it isn’t there.

Now think about this, when you go into the sun hopefully you do wear sufficient protection (at least factor 50) and if you’re really sensible, you wear protective but fashionable clothing to avoid the sun’s rays.  When you use a sunbed you don’t use anything on your skin – no suncream at all, definitely no protective clothing and some sun-tanning salons try and sell tan enhancers to further attract the sunbed rays.

Sunbeds Age Your Skin

As well as causing skin cancer, using a sunbed ages the skin dramatically, even faster than the sun.  UVA rays are emitted by sunbeds (just like the sun) but are even more concentrated and these are the rays that penetrate deep underneath the dermis, causing skin to loosen and lose its elasticity.  The results are a prematurely aged skin.  Even if you are in your twenties and your skin is still youthful (which it should be) and you use sunbeds you will begin to see the aging process accelerating at a much earlier age than your peers who avoid sunbeds.  You could experience lines and wrinkles in a matter of just a few years, even by the age of 30 your skin could look 10 years older.  The fact is, wrinkles are irreversible with the exception of invasive operations and needles – but the danger of filler and Botox is for another post!

Sunbeds Cause Age Spots

Those cute freckles you adore that you pick up from using a sunbed?  They might look pretty but they are a warning which comes from your skin.  Freckly, pale skin should not be exposed to the sun for long periods of time and it certainly shouldn’t be exposed to artificial sun because a sweet sprinkling of freckles is a prelude to age spots later on.

So, the next time you’re tempted to get a tan with or without the sun, don’t. Instead wear some fabulous sun-sensible clothes, top up your sunscreen to factor fifty,  buy a good bottle of fake tan if you must or better still, embrace your natural colour – a light dusting of bronzer and just a little cleverly applied make-up is all you need to look gorgeous.

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