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1 Tanning Smarter Than Ever on Sun Feb 07, 2010 2:24 am

Golden Girl

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An estimated 30 million North Americans turn to tanning salons as a controlled alternative to outdoor tanning. As we become increasingly aware of the benefits associated with regular exposure to sunlight and of the importance of managing the risks that can be associated with sunburn and overexposure, more people are turning to indoor tanning facilities to help attain their tans in a controlled environment scientifically designed to minimize the risk of sunburn.
The Tanning Industry’s Base Belief


The professional indoor tanning industry’s scientifically supported position is summed up in this declaration: Moderate tanning, for individuals who can develop a tan, is the smartest way to maximize the potential benefits of sun exposure while minimizing the potential risks associated with either too much or too little sunlight.

This position is founded on the following tenets:

  1. Ultraviolet light exposure from the sun or from an indoor tanning unit is essential for human health, and getting it in a non-burning fashion is the smartest way.
  2. The professional indoor tanning industry promotes and teaches what we refer to as The Golden Rule of Smart Tanning: Don’t ever sunburn.
  3. For the past decade, the indoor tanning industry has been more effective at teaching sunburn prevention than those who promote complete sun avoidance. Since the mid-1990s, tanning industry research has supported what millions of indoor tanners have known all along: that non-tanners sunburn outdoors more often than people who tan indoors. The professional indoor tanning salon industry is part of the solution in the ongoing battle against sunburn and in teaching people how to identify a proper and practical life-long skin care regimen.
  4. A tan is the body’s natural protection against sunburn. Your skin is designed to tan as a natural body function.
  5. Every year, millions of indoor tanners successfully develop “base tans” before embarking on sunny vacations – tans that, combined with the proper use of sunscreen outdoors, help them prevent sunburn.
  6. There are known physiological and psychological benefits associated with sunlight exposure and there are many other potential benefits that appear linked to sun exposure, but need further research. The potential upside of these benefits is considerable and deserves further consideration. Because sunlight is free and vitamin D is a relatively cheap pharmaceutical product, research into the many benefits of vitamin D has not been funded to its natural conclusion.
  7. The body produces Vitamin D naturally when the skin is exposed to sunlight. Vitamin D deficiency has become a recognized epidemic in North America and overzealous sun protection practices likely have contributed to this.
  8. The risks associated with UV overexposure are manageable for anyone who has the ability to develop a tan.

Why Is Indoor Tanning “Smart Tanning?”


Indoor tanning, if you can develop a tan, is an intelligent way to minimize the risk of sunburn while maximizing the enjoyment and benefit of having a tan. We call this SMART TANNING because tanners are taught by trained tanning facility personnel how their skin type reacts to sunlight and how to avoid sunburn outdoors, as well as in a salon. Tanning in a professional facility today minimizes risk because the government regulates indoor tanning in the United States and Canada. In the United States, exposure times for every tanning session are established by a schedule present on every piece of equipment that takes into account the tanner’s skin type and the intensity of the equipment to deliver a dosage of sunlight designed to minimize the risk of sunburn. The schedule, as regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Health Canada, also takes into account how long an individual has been tanning, increasing exposure times gradually to minimize the possibility of burning. That kind of control is impossible outdoors, where variables including seasonality, time of day, weather conditions, reflective surfaces and altitude all make outdoor tanning a random act and sunburn prevention more difficult.
How Do Indoor Tanning Salons Teach Sunburn Prevention?


The indoor tanning industry is at the forefront in educating people how to successfully avoid sunburn over the course of one’s life.

  • Studies of indoor tanners have shown consistently that indoor tanning customers once they begin tanning in a professional salon, are less likely to sunburn than they were before they started tanning.
  • Studies have also shown that indoor tanners are less likely to sunburn outdoors as compared to non-tanners.

Consider, in recent years sunburn incidence in the general population has been steadily increasing while sunscreen usage has been declining. And according to the American Academy of Dermatology, the sub-group most likely to sunburn is older men. In contrast, sunscreen usage outdoors among indoor tanners is increasing.
We believe that teaching people strictly to avoid the sun may be making them more likely to sunburn when they do go outside for summer activities – and everyone does go outdoors at some point. Consider:

  1. Tanning is your body’s natural defense mechanism against sunburn, and indoor tanners have activated this defense against burning – a tan essentially multiplies the ability of sunscreen worn outdoors to do its job. That’s one reason non-tanners are more vulnerable when they inevitably do go outdoors.
  2. Indoor tanners are educated at professional tanning facilities how to avoid sunburn outdoors, how to use sunscreens appropriately and how to properly moisturize their skin.

When you also consider that the majority of people who sunburn are male, according to the AAD, and that 65-70 percent of indoor tanning customers are female, clearly, it is non-tanners who are doing most of the burning outdoors. In the war against sunburn, tanning salons are part of the solution. Those who abstain from sun exposure completely are more likely to sunburn when they inevitably do go outdoors, even if they attempt to wear sunscreen.
Why We Promote Indoor Tanning As “Smart Tanning”


The professional indoor tanning industry promotes responsible indoor tanning and sunburn prevention as “smart.” We choose not to use the word “safe.” Here is why:
The word “safe” implies that one can recklessly abuse something without any fear of causing harm. And reckless abandon certainly is not the behavior the professional indoor tanning industry is teaching. In fact, we are playing a key role in successfully preventing that kind of reckless abuse. By teaching a “smart” approach to sunburn prevention that recognizes that people do perceive different benefits from being in the sun, we are able to teach sunburn prevention in a practical way that respects both the potential benefits and the risks of sun exposure.

For example, previous generations believed that sunburn was an inconvenient but necessary precursor to developing a tan. Today we know better, and we are teaching a new generation of tanners how to avoid sunburn at all costs. Again, our position: Moderate tanning is the best way to maximize the potential benefits of sun exposure while minimizing the potential risks of either too much or too little exposure.


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