The term “healthy tan” is bit of a misnomer. Tanning is the body’s response to damaging UV rays after significant sun exposure. The skin tans in order to protect itself from further damage. However, in today’s world, the tanned look has been associated with good health and youthfulness. Regardless of whether it’s healthy or not, people will tan because it makes them feel and look better.

The traditional method of sun tanning was going to the beach, and sitting in the sun. This is quite effective in warm, sun blessed regions such as Southern California, but not really an option for people living in colder climates as in the North East. For many working professionals, getting out to the beach is as likely as taking a trip to the moon, making the best alternative the tanning bed found in one’s local tanning salon.

Tanning beds generally come in two designs: either in clam shape or capsule form. There is also the stand up tanning booth, which some consider more effective than the typical lie down tanning bed.

Effect on Skin and Health

Most people in the tanning bed industry believe that tanning beds provide a much healthier alternative to natural sun tanning mainly because tanning beds allow control over the amount of UVA and UVB light emitted. Tanning equipment emits light that contains approximately 5% UVB and 95% UVA radiation. Overexposure to UVB rays, which is the root cause of sun burns, is significantly reduced in tanning beds. By limiting the amount of UVB rays and maximizing the amount of UVA rays, it’s possible to receive a healthy tan without getting burned.

Tanning Beds are Not a Perfect Subsitute for the Sun

While a tanning bed may provide an alternative option for getting that brown glow you always wanted, it is not a perfect substitute for the sun. One of the most important reasons human beings need the sun is to produce Vitamin D, which is triggered as a result of the skin’s exposure to UVB rays. Since tanning beds emit such a small percentage of UVB rays, they are not a good alternative to the sun when it comes to Vitamin D.

Insufficient sun exposure, in addition to Vitamin D deficiency, has also been linked to an increase in developing certain types of cancers such as colon, breast, ovarian and prostate cancers.

Use in Moderation

As with anything, tanning beds should only be used in moderation. Although there is dispute as to the degree to which tanning beds are harmful to the human body, most scientists and medical professionals believe that tanning beds, when used excessively, can be hazardous and greatly increases the likelihood of skin cancer.

The Food and Drug Administration does not recommend the use of tanning beds as they have found it to be linked to the development of allergies, photosensitivity, blood vessel damage and even the increased likelihood of cancer.