Artificial sun

Yes, there are indoor tanning lovers. They want to get a tan without sunbathing. Yet, is artificial tanning "better“ than natural sunlight?

It’s 12:00 noon. In a country close to the equator. Blue skies. The sun is bright. Just because the sun is hot, this is not the only reason you remember to protect your skin from the sun’s UV rays, right? Finally, we understand the importance of sun protection. We think about it. By the way, a UV Index of 11 and higher is considered extreme. You know those conditions we just mentioned? They are more than 11. So, sun protection is a MUST. Clothing, a hat and sunglasses should be your constant companion all day. Look around at the locals. They find shade or stay inside, especially under these conditions.

Let’s do a quick scene change. Same sun exposure. Time of day and location do not matter. You are only wearing goggles to protect your eyes as you stand "sunbathing" in a tanning booth under legally regulated ultraviolet light, which is maximum 0.3 watts per square meter. Is this artificial sun less intense and safer? A clear answer: NO. 

This harmful radiation is also found at the equator, as described above. The UV Index is 11 or higher. Whether you are exposed to UV radiation naturally from the sun or from tanning tubes in a tanning bed, both are harmful and dangerous.

The thing is, those who use the tanning bed don’t protect their skin at all. Their desire for a tan is stronger than their common sense.

Take note that over the years, indoor tanning has focused on intense UVA radiation. This has helped tanners get dark fast, yet with the unknowns of long-term damage. Since we don’t get sunburns with this type of radiation, we feel a measure of safety, that does not exist in reality. 

The International Cancer Research Agency (IARC) of the World Health Organization (WHO) has classified both types of UV radiation, natural and artificial, in the highest risk group of cancer-causing factors. "In just a few seconds, UV light can damage the DNA, besides giving us the tan we want. Cells with damaged genetic material can develop cancer decades later,“ according to a press release by the German Cancer Aid (Deutsche Krebshilfe).

Whoever still wants to go to a tanning booth, should still consider a few things to find the right place. The Federal Office for Radiation Protection (Das Bundesamt für Strahlenschutz) has a helpful checklist on their website.

Even though the sun and its UV rays are important for both our lives and our health, it’s important to be smart and protect ourselves from too much.

So, avoid unnecessary sun exposure and damage to your skin. The dose makes the poisen.

Get help on how to find an appropriate tanning facility. (Website in German language)

To the checklist