As summer slowly creeps closer and closer, the temptation of getting your pre-summer glow started is hard to resist. Some brave the chill and don shorts, some embrace the self-tanning Sunless life and others go for a twelve minute holiday. Whatever your choice, you do you. But make sure you do you SAFELY.
There certainly are dangers associated with wearing shorts in March, (frostbite, obvs,) and also risks to looking streaked and a damaged ego if a self tan isn't applied properly. However it's indoor tanning which comes under the most scrutiny. When used irresponsibly, sunbeds can lead to skin damage, which is caused by overexposure and spending more time on the acrylics than is safe for your skin type. If a sunbed is used correctly, not only will it give you a golden, even tan, but it can also increase your vitamin D levels.
It seems that there is a lack of information out there on people's skin type and how that affects the amount of UV exposure people should be getting. Just as people react differently to basking in the sun depending on the fairness of their skin, using a sunbed is no different. Although the lamps create artificial light, the UV rays emanated are identical to sunlight (95% UVA, 5% UVB). Because of this, knowing your skin type before bronzing on a bed will help to develop a golden glow without harming your skin.
***Please note that all references to time spent on a sunbed are subject to the use of 48 lamp VTU with type 0.3 180W (aka. 0.3 lamps)- this is the legal limit of sunbed lamp power and equates to the midday sun in the Mediterranean***
Skin Type 1
In reaction to natural sunlight, this complexion has a very high risk of sunburn, with their skin transforming from a glistening white to a volcanic red before returning to their original snowy hue. People with this skin type are very fair, usually with a lot of freckles, either red or sandy hair and blue or grey eyes. For people with this skin type, it is strongly advised to not use a sunbed due to high risks of burning and thus, skin damage.
Skin Type 2
This second skin type is also reasonably fair however not necessarily with accompanying freckles. People with this complexion usually have blonde to brown hair with blue, green or grey eyes. Their reaction to natural sunlight is fairly similar to Skin Type 1 in the way that they have a high burn risk, however tanning is not off the table. It is recommended that people with this skin type take great caution whilst tanning, both whilst using a sunbed and sun worshipping. Sunbeds usually encourage light tanning, similar to the colour that would be developed by direct sunshine. It is recommended that this category of people spend no more than five minutes on a sunbed per session.
Skin Type 3
People in this bracket have a complexion which varies from reasonably fair to light brown. They have no freckles but dark blonde to brown hair and grey or green eyes. Although their risk of burning is lesser than those in Types 1 and 2, it is still a possibility so the maximum recommended usage time on a sunbed is 10 minutes per session. This would allow for the build up of a moderate glow without the risk of skin damage.
Skin Type 4
For people with Skin Type 4, burning is rare as their complexion tends to be a light brown accompanied by dark brown hair and eyes. Instead their tan is rapid and deep. A maximum usage of 15 minutes per session is suggested for this complexion however it's also important to be cautious on initial exposure as the first sessions should be moderate to avoid skin damage.
Skin Type 5
People in this category seldom burn due to their deep brown skin, dark hair and eyes. This complexion has its own natural protection causing tanning to be rapid and deep. It is recommended to spend no more than 20 minutes per session baking however, like for Skin Type 4, it is strongly advised to exercise precaution during initial exposure.
Skin Type 6
This skin type has its own natural protection. Due to its very dark hue, black hair and dark eyes, people in this category never burn in natural sunlight but instead having rapid, deep tanning. The maximum exposure on a sunbed for this complexion should be 22 minutes, once again with the recommendation to begin with moderate exposure to avoid skin damage.