Why should I tan indoors?
Indoor tanning allows you to control exactly what kind of ultraviolet light your skin receives, thereby reducing your risk of ever contracting a sunburn. It also allows you to eliminate many other environmental variables that can't possibly be controlled outdoors.
Let's look at the differences.
When tanning indoors, a tanner enjoys:
CONTROL. You always know exactly what kind of ultraviolet light you are getting and exactly how long you'll be getting it.
CONVENIENCE. You never have to worry about inclement weather. It's always sunny and warm in your favorite tanning salon.
SPEED. It doesn't take all day at the beach to get an indoor tan. Depending on your skin, a few quick sessions a week is all it takes to maintain a golden brown tan.
SERVICE. Professional indoor tanning salons monitor your progress and advise you on how to properly maintain your tan, reducing your risk of ever contracting a dangerous sunburn.
SEASONALITY. Depending on the time of year, the sunlight you receive is more or less intense. Gauging how much exposure is too much, depending on the time of year, is always difficult.
LOCATION. Are you tanning at the beach, where the surrounding sand acts as a reflector for ultraviolet light? Are you snow skiing, where the snow has the same effect? Are you in the water, where the UV light penetrates beneath the surface more than you might think? Your surroundings affect the intensity of ultraviolet light when you tan outdoors.
GEOGRAPHY. Are you in Columbus, Ohio, or Charlotte, North Carolina? The intensity of the sun's ultraviolet light varies, getting more intense the closer you are to the Earth's equator. Again, this influences how long you can tan without getting burned outdoors.
WEATHER CONDITIONS. Is it partly cloudy or sunny? Is it overcast ompletely or raining? A significant amount of ultraviolet light penetrates through clouds, even on an overcast day. But the intensity varies, depending on the cloudiness.
ALTITUDE. Are you at sea level or in the mountains? Even if you are in the foothills, ultraviolet intensity is greater at higher altitudes - another factor the average person can't gauge accurately outdoors.
THE OZONE LAYER. Regular changes in the Earth's outer atmosphere affect the amount of ultraviolet light from the sun reaches the planet surface. It is impossible to know from day to day how these conditions will change.
WORRYING ABOUT SUNBURN. Have you ever spent a day outside, only to be surprised at the end of the day by a sunburn? Or maybe you didn't get a sunburn when you expected you should. All the variables listed above make tanning outdoors a guessing game.
What is Heliotherapy and SAD?
Every summer many publications warn about the dangers of exposure to the sun, the increased risk of skin cancer, most notably. But what about the positive effects? Perhaps it's time to give equal time to the sun.
HELIOTHERAPY is the name medical professionals have given to the treatment of disease by exposure to light. One of its first applications was to the condition known as SAD, or Seasonal Affective Disorder.
SAD, also known as the winter blues, affects possibly 30% of everyone in the northern U.S. with the symptoms of depression, loss of energy, downheartedness, sleeping more than usual, and so on. People who suffer from SAD may find that a strong dose of sunlight on the face makes its symptoms go away faster than you can say prozac. Why? The answer is melatonin, a powerful biochemical that originates in the brain.
MELATONIN is the body's sleep inducer and tranquilizer (and is available in pill form), and the brain secretes more of it when sunlight is lacking, less of it when sunlight is present. Hence, taking a walk in the winter sun can eleviate the feelings of SAD. Heliotherapy is not new. The beneficial effects of sunlight were recognized by the ancient Egyptians, Greeks and especially Romans, who constructed solariums whose primary purpose was to enable sunbathing.
But now Heliotherapy is becoming the focus of scientific research, and the findings suggest that there may be advantages to light exposure beyond helping those with SAD. Here a few:
Vitamin D - Sunlight is a source of vitamin D3, which our bodies need to use the calcium we get from food. Moderate exposure to the sun enables your skin to produce vitamin D naturally.
Jet Lag - Getting a dose of sunlight upon arrival in a new time zone can help adjust your body's clock, suppressing the level of melatonin that would otherwise put you to sleep when other people are up and about.
Psoriasis - Remember "the heartbreak of psoriasis?" This condition, which has no cure, results in scaly patches of skin on those who suffer it. Sunlight, however, is known to eleviate these effects.
PMS - Mood swings, irritability, and depression are all known to women who endure Premenstrual Syndrome. Exposure to bright light has been found to help reset the biological clock, regulating the body's production of hormones that may be responsible for these symptoms.
Beyond bodily health, researchers are investigating the possibility that sunlight helps people become more alert - and therefore more productive - on the job. Still, it's important to understand that while there is much we are finding out about the positive effects of the sun, the negatives have been proven. So remember, don't overdue it, even in the winter months.
Oh well, at least I'll have a nice tan when this burn fades, right?
Ouch, that hurts!!"
How many times have we gotten sunburned at the start of the summer, or worse yet a vacation. You are now faced with the choice of limiting your time in the sun or bundling up like Boris Karloff's Mummy, to prevent further sunburn. "Oh well, at least I'll have a nice tan when this burn fades, right?" Wrong, according to tanning experts. Sunburn is an injury on top of your tanned skin. Most studies clearly define the biggest risk factors for skin cancer as repeated sunburn and heredity.
Sunburn is the enemy associated with permanent skin damage. It occurs when tiny blood vessels in your skin burst from getting to much sun exposure. Since your top layers of skin are replaced about once a month, the sunburn to tan theory isn't valid. Gradual tanning in an indoor tanning unit allows you to tan in a controlled environment designed to reduce the risk of sunburn, says the International SMART TAN Network.
By starting off with sessions as little as 2 or 3 minutes and gradually increasing the time, you develop a "base" tan. By starting now, you can acquire a tan before the summer starts. The more responsible salons are clean, well staffed by professionals trained to assist you in getting that "Smart Tan". By patronizing a responsible, educated and clean facility, you can maintain your tan throughout the year with minimal effort and risk.
Tanning salons offer 3 types of tanning equipment, first is the tanning booth. You stand in the booth, facing the ultraviolet lights. If you want to totally relax, there is the tanning bed. You lay in the bed and pull the lid down and it's like you're on the beach. For pregnant woman and people who want to tan their face, there is equipment that resembles a makeup mirror just for that purpose. The better salons keep very detailed records on their clients progress. They also have control of the equipment at the reception area, thus preventing overzealous patrons from overextending their time and risking sunburn.
The indoor tanning industry offers the following tips on tanning:
Avoid sunburn - If nothing else, remember this cardinal rule of tanning.
Learn your skin type - Before sunbathing or sunbedding, learn your "skin type". There are six distinct skin types; each reacts differently to sun exposure.
Protect yourself outdoors - When recreating outdoors, wear appropriate full-spectrum sunscreens - even if you already have a tan. You should also wear hats whenever possible outdoors; particularly if you have a receding hair line or thinning hair. Young children should be especially careful outdoors. Their young skin, which is still developing, is especially vulnerable to amage caused by sunburn.
Protect your eyes - Eyelids are not sufficient protection from ultraviolet light, whether you are tanning outdoors or indoors. Outdoors, you should use sunglasses that block ultraviolet A & B rays. When tanning indoors always wear indoor tanning goggles that meet federal protection standards.
MYTH - "That tanning outdoors is better because the UV light exposure is more intense"
TRUTH - People tanning indoors are exposed to a scientifically calibrated amount if UV light. When used according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's exposure guidelines (posted on each machine), tanning beds are designed to maximize tanning and minimize burning. Conversely, tanning outdoors is an unregulated environment. There are many factors that have to be considered when you tan outdoors: geography, time of day, weather conditions, the seasons, and the ozone layer. Remember the best way to safeguard yourself from sun damage is to wear appropriate levels of SPF sunscreens outdoors - even if you already have a tan. You should also know that, even with sunscreen protection, UV exposure can still lead to skin cancer and premature aging, even if you don't burn.
MYTH - "My friend was tanning every day in a sun bed at a salon. After about a week she started to notice a strange burnt smell, but she wasn't sunburned. She went to a doctor, and he told her that the tanning bed was beginning to bake her internal organs, creating the smell."
TRUTH - The UV light from a sun bed is similar to UV light from the sun, and cannot penetrate deeper that the skin to harm internal organs. The odor the friend noticed is probably what's commonly known as the "after tan" odor, a common occurrence, which is caused by harmless bacteria. Have your friend try a lotion with bio complex of some type; available in all brands of tanning lotions that reduces to elimates the burnt oder associated with tanning.
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