Who Should Tan, How and How Often?

Sunlight is absolutely essential to all life on earth. There are various reasons, both biological and psychological, why exposure to light is desirable. In addition, many people believe they look better with a tan. Thus, having a tan may provide a psychological uplift for some.

Normally, a person tans indoors only as well as he/ she is able to tan outdoors. Yet, those fair-skinned people who generally cannot tolerate the uncontrollable rays of the sun often achieve some color when tanning indoors. This can be attributed to a different spectral output as well as carefully timed tanning sessions in a controlled tanning environment. Skin type, heredity, and individual photosensitivities determine who will have success tanning indoors.

All exposure, whether indoor or outdoors should be gradual and moderate. For the commercial tanning salon operator, it is necessary that each customer's skin type be determined, and that the corresponding recommended exposure schedule be strictly followed. More information on the risks and benefits of UV exposure can be obtained from industry publications, seminars, trade associations, and suppliers of indoor tanning equipment.

As for how often to tan, currently, the Food and Drug Administration guidelines suggest that a 48 hour time interval should pass between tanning sessions. Pigmentation and/ or erythemal (sunburn) may not be fully visible for between 12- 24 hours. Thus two tanning sessions within this 24 hour period could cause an unintentional burn. In general, maximum pigmentation can be built up gradually, following the exposure schedule, in 8 - 10 tanning sessions.

Should an indoor tanner experience an adverse reaction after tanning, one should terminate all exposure until the condition disappears. Only then should one begin tanning again. If the condition does not disappear within a reasonable amount of time, one should consult a physician.

Each indoor tanner must bear responsibility for his/ her own tanning priorities. It is the responsibility of those in the retail business to provide enough information to customers to enable them to make an informed decision. When in doubt, the equipment operator should exercise prudence, caution and good judgment when giving advice on tanning practices.