Every time you get into a tanning bed, you are exchanging your health for a more socially acceptable appearance, an act that is as superficial as it is harmful.
A tanning bed causes damage to your skin every time you lay in it, even if the only thing you can see in the moment is your newly tanned skin.
While you may think that tan skin is beautiful skin, the truth is that tan skin is damaged skin.
According to Healthline’s website, tan skin is an indication that ultraviolet rays have caused skin cells produce more melanin.
This darkening process is your skin’s defense against UV damage, and while the tan will fade, the damage to your skin is long-lasting.
The United States Department of Health and Human Services website has declared UV rays a carcinogen, or a cancer-causing substance, because they rapidly increase the speed of mutations within your body.
According to a study from the University of California in San Francisco, indoor tanning is linked to more skin cancers than cigarettes are to lung cancers.
According to the Melonoma Foundation of New England’s website, the increased risk of melanoma associated with tanning bed use is 59 percent for people whose first exposure to artificial UV rays in a tanning bed occurred before the age of 35.
That risk increases with the number of tanning bed sessions per year.
To shed some light on what exactly melanoma is, according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, melanoma is caused by a tumor of high malignancy that starts in melanocytes — skin cells — of normal skin or moles and metastasizes rapidly and widely.
Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer.
The risks of indoor tanning doesn’t stop with increasing your risk of skin cancer.
Other risks include premature aging, damage to your eyes and immune suppression.
According to the Healthline website, the light from a tanning bed can put your eyes at risk for cataracts and corneal burns.
Tanning also causes your skin to lose elasticity and develop early wrinkles, and UV radiation may negatively affect your body’s immune system, leaving you more vulnerable to disease.
Indoor and outdoor tanning both pose a threat to your health, but outdoor tanning is much less harmful because it provides a more gradual exposure to harmful UV rays.
According to the Melonoma Foundation’s website, not only is using a tanning bed for 20 minutes equivalent to spending one to three hours a day at the beach with no sun protection at all, but tanning beds also put out three to six times the amount of radiation given off by the sun.
One benefit from minimal outdoor tanning is that it provides your skin with the vitamin D it needs, which is absorbed through exposure to sunlight.
According to the Melonoma Foundation’s website, five to 10 minutes of unprotected sun two to three times a week is enough to help your skin make vitamin D, but getting more sun won’t increase your vitamin D intake.
Overexposure to sunlight will merely increase your risk of skin cancer.
If you insist on joining in on the fad of having the sun-kissed look or simply a darker complexion, the safest alternatives to both indoor and outdoor tanning include sunless tanning lotions and spray tanning.
These often look identical to tanning bed tans and are completely harmless, so why would you want to put your body under harmful conditions for a simple tan?