Tanning Facts

Smart Tanning

  1. Limit your exposure to avoid sunburn. If you tan with a device, ask whether the manufacturer or the salon staff recommend exposure limits for your skin type. Set a timer on the tanning device that automatically shuts off the lights or somehow signals that you've reached your exposure time. Remember that exposure time affects burning and that your age at the time of exposure is also important relative to burning.
  2. Use goggles to protect your eyes. Ask whether safety goggles are provided and if their use is mandatory. Make sure the goggles fit snugly. Check to see that the salon sterilizes the goggles after each use to prevent the spread of eye infections.
  3. Consider your medical history. If you are undergoing treatment for lupus or diabetes or are susceptible to cold sores, be aware that these conditions can be aggravated through exposure to ultraviolet radiation from tanning devices, sunlamps, or natural sunlight. In addition, your skin may be more sensitive to artificial light or sunlight if you use certain medications ? for example, antihistamines, tranquilizers or birth control pills. Your tanning salon may keep a file with information on your medical history, medications, and treatments. 
  4. Photosensitivity-  Many of the medications mentioned in #3 as well as topical solutions can cause the skin to burn or break out in a rash when exposed to UV light. This means salon owners and their staff need to know the latest facts and information to answer your questions regarding photosensitivty intelligently and accurately.  Consequences can range from itchiness, rash or minor UV burns. 

It is critical and mandatory that every salon post a chart of photosensitivity agents in a conspicuous location.  If a client is on medication not listed on the chart, they should consult with their doctor first. 

How Your Skin Tans

  • Your skin's epidermis consists of two layers:
    • The germinative layer (the living epidermis)
    • The horny layer (the dead epidermis)
  •  When the epidermis is exposed to ultraviolet light, melanocytes (skin cells that make up about five percent of everyone's outer layer) produce melanin (brown pigment) which is absorbed by the surrounding cells creating a barrier from ultraviolet light reaching deeper, more sensitive layers of the skin. This whole tanning process is the body's natural defense against sunburn and skin damage.
  •  Cells in the epidermis' germinative layer constantly reproduce and push old cells up towards the homy layer where they are cast off in time. The tanning process continues with the new cells replacing the older ones that have previously absorbed melanin.

How Ultraviolet Light Works

  • Ultraviolet light is made up of two main components: UVA and UVB, both of which affect your tan in different ways.
  • UVA are long rays that penetrate the skin more deeply and slowly than UVB. The melanin in your skin absorbs the UVA rays, turning the pigment brown.
  • UVB rays are short, intense waves of energy, stimulating melanocytes in your skin to produce the pigment we call melanin. UVB also ensures a thickening of the skin, providing optimum protection against the rays from the sun.

Eye Protection

  • ALWAYS wear protective goggles when tanning.  
  • Closing your eyelids is NOT adequate protection without proper eyewear. Your eyelids are too thin to stop ultraviolet light from penetrating your cornea, lens and retina.  
  • Indoor tanning eyewear stops 99% of UVA light and 99.9% UVB light, allowing only visible light through so you can see while you tan.  
  • Sunglasses, towels or cotton balls are not adequate protection in a solarium.
  • Contact lenses should be removed before tanning. Although eyewear will protect your eyes and lenses from UV damage, heat emitted from the tanning equipment may dry out the lenses and cause eye irritation. 
  •  Shared eyewear should always be cleaned properly with disinfectant. To avoid possible eye infections, many tanners choose to purchase and use their own eye protection. Please ask a staff member if you would like to order your own protective eyewear.  
  • Injury to the eyes, such as cataracts, retinal and cornea burns, loss of night vision and difficulty seeing colors are totally avoidable by wearing proper eye protection.