This article leads us to the big debate.
Sun-bedding versus fake tanning offers many a dispute among my college friends/family/people I don't even know and I. This conversation topic has inspired me to research and write about it due to the longstanding opinions surrounding it.
Despite what a lot of people say, there are still many individuals who prefer using sun beds to a fake tanning lotion. It’s hard to believe with the amount of orange people you see today, but usually there can be up to a fifteen minute wait in many local sun bed salons.
Most of you will probably know how sun beds work, but here’s a short rundown of them.
The strobe lighting tubes in the beds emit ultraviolet radiation, both UVA and UVB, and these rays have ten to fifteen times greater intensity than the sun at midday. The reason these rays are more likely to cause skin cancer is because the radiation penetrates much further into the skin cells, causing both gene damage and skin cancer. 6,709 cases of malignant melanoma occur each year in the UK alone.
The main advantage of using sun beds is that you get an all over even natural tan for less money than a fake tan, it looks a lot better and it doesn’t streak, go patchy, wash off in water or disintegrate with a hard workout.
The best way to stay safe on a sun bed is to use sun cream. You are advised by the assistants in the tanning shop not to use it on the sun beds but this is generally because if they ‘forget’ to clean it after each use, they get complaints. They also sell tiny little pots of tan accelerator, that range from about £1.50-£5 and only last one session (you can buy a whole bottle for around £10), to boost their profits. Sun cream does in fact help to protect you from the UVA /UVB rays and stops you burning, plus if you buy a factor 15 cream then it protects but doesn’t block the rays completely (sun block on the other hand prevents the UVA/UVB rays from entering your skin and makes it completely pointless to use the beds). Eye goggles are provided in each cubicle, usually along with moisturiser/make up remover for each customer. Most people tend not to use the goggles on the lower intensity beds but it can cause eye damage on the higher ones or with frequent use, so it shouldn’t really be risked.
Spray tans. They usually last about a week with the best care, and they are also much more high maintenance. You are unable to shave less than 24 hours before getting them and it is also not advised to use deodorants or perfumes as this can make the tan discolour. In addition, up to eight hours after the tan is applied you shouldn’t; shower, use deodorant, perfume, soap, work up a sweat, etc and it is also better to wear no clothes until it has really dried and finished on your skin. After this you have to shower and exfoliate daily, pat yourself completely dry before dressing and then moisturise twice a day. Your bathwater also goes brown/orange and it can begin to blotch. Although maintaining your skin like this is beneficial anyway and does definitely not damage your skin, it is probably not the best tan for a busy person with little spare time, and a lot of effort. There is also the increased chance that you choose the wrong colour for your skin and unlike moisturising tans in shops, it takes a long time to wash off and it is almost impossible to scrub off without damaging your skin. Furthermore, unless the spray tanner is a professional, the appliers are not good enough to ensure there are no streaks, plus there is the issue of body confidence and being semi/naked around a stranger once a week.
When I was in school there was one girl who frequently got spray tans by a professional, and they were always streaky. One time my teacher announced to the class ‘does she know that she’s that colour?’ when she left the room to go to the toilet and further questioned her upon her return, asking if she had been to Barbados for the weekend.
I myself do use sun beds. I prefer having a natural even tan and a healthy (questionable!) glow. I know all about the disadvantages of sun beds and really worry about my health at times, especially as I try to go every other day for eight minutes at each time. I always apply sun cream to under my breasts and my tummy as that’s where I usually burn. Once my tan has built up to my desired colour I start going once a week instead. A lot of people who attend my college are orange from spray tanning and all the boys think they look ridiculous, especially as they continue to use their natural skin colour foundation and it makes them look even worse!
It costs me about £5.40 a go on the sun bed and there are always really friendly staff who give me advice whether I ask for it or not. Once, my friend came with me whilst I went on and they told her that she wasn’t to go on a bed (not that she insinuated she wanted to, she’s ginger and doesn’t tan at all) which has reassured me that the assistants really do care about the safety of their clients. At around £20 a week, it is the same cost as an average spray tan, therefore for me it’s definitely not about the money.
Recently, a couple of friends have started coming tanning with me after commenting on my glow, and they have become noticeably more tanned too, and love it! (I didn’t encourage it, and told them the common advantages and disadvantages of using them).
WARNING: sun beds are definitely addictive and should be used with extreme precaution, care and attention as to how long they are used per session. You should make sure to ask a tanning assistant for advice before using a bed.
What are your opinions on tanning? What are your tanning rituals? To tan or not to tan, that is the question...