Indoor tanning is just as unhealthy as outdoor tanning, despite myths stating otherwise. In fact, indoor tanning may be even worse due to the radiation caused by dangerous UV rays inside tanning beds. When tanning indoors, you may think a few minutes of tanning won't be enough. However, a few minutes is all you need, compared to an outdoor tan which requires a few hours in the open sun.
The Pros and Cons of Indoor Tanning
Indoor tanning is said to be safer than outdoor tanning. As stated by the American Tanning Institute, tanning beds can be controlled, compared to being outdoors, where you have little control over factors such as cloudy days or ground reflection. As a result, you may end up with an unwanted sunburn, when misguided by a cloudy day during which skin still tans, especially when you don't use sunscreen. However, the lamps in a tanning bed are highly intense, and their UV rays are up to 15 times as strong as those from the sun, according to Everyday Health.
According to the "Boston Globe," tanning indoors in a tanning bed for 20 minutes is the same as tanning outdoors for one to three hours without any sunscreen. As stated by the Melanoma Foundation, the use of tanning beds once a month increases the risk of melanoma by 75 percent, if you are under age 35.
You may think at first that tanning for just 20 minutes in a tanning bed will not be enough to get a natural-looking, noticeable tan and that spending such a short time indoor tanning won't cause skin damage. However, don't forget that these 20 minutes tanning indoors are the same as a few hours at the beach, without protection. After just these 20 minutes, you may get sunburned in a tanning bed, which compares to an entire day at the beach without sunscreen. The result is a dangerous, red sunburn which will cause pain and blistering -- and increases your risk of skin cancer. The outdoor tanning time increases by a few hours, depending on the sun protection you use which slows down the process of tanning.
The Right Time
When tanning indoors, start out with about five minutes of tanning. This is enough to give your skin a slight tan. Then wait about 48 hours before the next tan. You cannot spend hours in a tanning bed, as you would spend tanning outdoors. This is because when you are outside, sunlight is directed away from you by objects such as clouds and trees, whereas in a tanning bed, the UV light hits your skin and only your skin. The ideal tanning time, according to Life Tips, is about 10 to 12 minutes unless a longer time is recommended by a professional.