Indoor Tanning vs. Self-Tanners

Written by Leanna Serras

Indoor tanning has taken some heat over the years for causing many skin disorders, including melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. Tanning, scientifically speaking, is the act of exposing the skin to ultraviolet radiation in order to darken the skin. Exposure to UV rays oxidizes the levels of melanin in the skin, thus darkening the skin. Melanin is a pigment that is produced in order to prevent damage from solar radiation, so increased exposure to sunlight or sunless tanning booths will increase melanin production and darken the skin. It's even been proven that exposure to sunlight triggers vitamin D synthesis.

Indoor tanning is a relatively new phenomenon that allows individuals to enter booths or stalls which have concentrated, artificial UV-ray fixtures that act as rays of sun and provide tans much more quickly than lying in the sun. Indoor tanning salons have become increasingly popular, especially among young women, and is generally considered a fashionable "look". It is especially popular during the winter and in areas that do not get very warm. Fair-skinned people tend to get freckles or burn, while darker-skinned people, due to the presence of melanin already in their skin, will generally have an easier time tanning.

However, it's important to understand the risks of indoor tanning. While tanning bed companies will argue that developing a base tan is healthy and will prevent sunburn, direct UV radiation has been proven to damage DNA. Plus, studies have shown that overexposure to UV rays may increase the risk of skin cancer, including melanoma, basal cell carcinoma, and squamous cell carcinoma . In fact, there are many reputable organizations that advise against indoor tanning, including: