Two Sides to Every Story: Shedding Light on Indoor Tanning


Multibillion- dollar corporations have people believing that indoor tanning only results in cancer without ever expressing the other side of the argument, detailing the benefits of indoor tanning.

The indoor tanning industry has been under fire for decades with reports being published of the risks of indoor tanning and stating that exposure to these light rays is dangerous.  There are two sides to every story; in this case the tanning industry versus the skeptics.

“There’s a lot of negative media out there, backed by multibillion dollar industries,” said Jackie Sutton, manager of the Acworth Solar Dimensions Tanning Spas. “That’s how they make their money.”

Moderation is Key

Sun exposure causes many of the same effects that indoor tanning does, because indoor tanning is created to simulate the sun.  The effects are both negative and positive, but indoor tanning mainly receives negative media publicity.

“My opinion is that everything should be done in moderation,” said Ashley Crossan, employee of the Acworth Solar Dimensions Tanning Spas. “Tanning should be done in moderation.”

Moderation is the key to staying safe both in outdoor and indoor tanning situations.  This is why sunscreen is widely publicized and indoor tanning salons also recommend the use of lotion.  Sutton recommends that tanning be done in moderation for those who are considering, yet skeptical of, indoor tanning.

“Educate yourself,” said Sutton. “Educating yourself on the process and using moderation are keys to indoor tanning.”

Indoor tanning contains ultraviolet light that stimulates the melanin production in the skin; oxidizing that melanin is what gives skin its golden brown appearance or “tan.”

This ultraviolet light has two different types: UV-A and UV-B.  UV-A rays are the bronzing rays that oxidize the melanin that is produced when UV-B rays jumpstart the skin’s melanin production.

UV-B rays are commonly referred to as the “burning” rays.  These rays are produced both by the sun and indoor tanning beds and they cause sunburns.

Typically conditions like skin cancer are caused by the repetitive burning of skin, especially in childhood and adolescence.  While these burns are not a direct cause of skin cancer, they do increase the likelihood of its occurrence.

The Benefits of Tanning

Sunlight produces UV-B and most people are aware of this because of sunburns they have received.  Indoor tanning does as well.  The major difference between the two is the percentage of UV-B rays emitted, with tanning beds having a significantly lower percentage of these.

“UV-B helps with the production of vitamin D,” Crossan said.

UV-B is necessary to the tanning process because of its ability to jumpstart the melanin production in the skin, along with other benefits, most involving vitamin D.

Vitamin D helps boost the immune system.  Most people become ill in the winter, because their immune system is weakened by both the cold and reduced sun exposure. Vitamin D is also proven to assist in the treatment of osteoporosis and breast cancer.

“It helps with SADS,” Sutton said.  “It helps to increase the serotonin levels in our brain.”

Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SADS, is a state of depression afflicting many people during the colder months.  This is directly linked to less outdoor sun exposure, which can be compensated for by indoor tanning.

“I love it,” Sutton said.  “I love how it makes me feel. I love how warm it is.  I love how I feel afterwards.”

Sutton has been working in the tanning industry for 11 years and was tanning for about 10 years before that. Crossan, one of Sutton’s employees, has been tanning since she was 15 years old and has worked in the tanning industry for about six months.

Trained in the Tanning Process and Protection

These tanning experts know the ins and outs of the tanning industry, from the way it works to how to keep clients’ skin safe throughout the process.

The two underwent serious training in order to work in the tanning industry.  Crossan said that her training manual was large and she was required to know as much as possible about tanning before taking a final test to prove she was ready for the sales floor.

Tanners express an overall sense of well-being that Sutton explains by outlining the fringe benefits of tanning.

“We all feel better when we have a little bit of color on our skin,” Sutton said.  “Color does give an overall appearance of thinness as well.”

Some of the largest advocates for indoor tanning are the employees of tanning salons, because they know the positive and negative effects of the tanning process.

Crossan said that most people have heard bad publicity about indoor tanning and that has a lot to do with why a lot of people are against it.  Sutton stands by her statement about the multibillion-dollar industries.

“They try to keep people from doing things by saying that they’re bad for you,” said Sutton.  “When really, they’re not.”

High-quality salons are trained to know the top methods of safety when it comes to UV exposure.  A large part of the training manual that Crossan mentioned contained information about different skin types and the appropriate products to keep them safe.

“Goggles are always the first product I grab,” Crossan said.

It is important for tanners to wear goggles into the tanning beds and high-quality salons require the use of goggles for every client.  This protects the person’s eyes from negative effects of UV light, including cataracts.

Crossan said that the lotions that are sold at Solar Dimensions are all physician grade and key to keeping a client’s skin protected.  It also assists in giving the client the best tanning results.

Most negative publicity for tanning salons is produced without weighing the positive and negative effects.  Tanning can be a beneficial process if people educate themselves, use the correct protection and use moderation when participating in indoor tanning.


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