Indoor Tans vs. Outdoor Tans

There are two ways to get a real tan – you can tan outdoors in the sun, or you can tan inside of a tanning booth at a salon. Each method of tanning has its benefits and weaknesses:

  • Indoor Tanning – Tanning in tanning booth allows you to control the amount of time you spend in the sun, ideally to reduce burning. It also allows you to tan during winter when it is too cold to tan outdoors. Tanning booths however can be more dangerous, especially when they are used too often.
  • Outdoor Tanning – Tanning in the sun is arguably more enjoyable. You can play sports or enjoy the water, tanning in the process. It also may not be quite as dangerous on a UV basis, in terms of how much UV exposure you receive in a similar amount of time. But outdoor tanning is also inexact, since your entire body is not subjected to UV rays at any given time. In addition, it is very easy to spend too long in the sun and get a severe burn, because there is less control while you are tanning.

Clearly there are a variety of differences between these two tanning methods. However, there are a variety of similarities as well. Below are some of the similarities between indoor and outdoor tanning.

Tanning Similarities

  1. You Can Tan

Perhaps the most apparently similarity is that both offer you the same tanning ability. Both use UV rays that allow your body to promote melanin production and change the color of your skin.

  1. You Can Burn

Of course, another similarity is that with both systems you can burn, and burn harshly. In tanning booths at tanning salons you have a far better chance of controlling your time in the machine so that burning is less likely, but just because it is less likely does not mean it is impossible. Burning is still always possible, especially if you misjudge how long you should be in the booth.

  1. Tanning Difficulty

If you have a problem tanning outdoors due to light skin, etc., you will also have the same problem tanning indoors. Similarly, if you are someone that freckles instead of tans, you are still going to freckle rather than tan in the tanning booth. The UV rays provided by tanning booths are identical to the UV rays provided by the sun.

Overall Differences

The reality is that tanning booths and the sun are both exactly the same in terms of their effects on your skin and body. The differences lie in convenience and enjoyment, as well as degree of control. Sun tanning may be more fun, as well as free, but you have less control over your tan. Tanning booths provide you with a great deal of control which can help reduce your likelihood of burning, but it costs money and has the same health risks. Overall they are both decent options for those that need a tan and which you choose is based largely on your own personal preference.

Which is Safer – Indoor or Outdoor Tanning?

Tanning can never be considered safe. Tans themselves are a result of skin damage, and as such you cannot get a tan unless you are damaging your skin. Clearly then there is no such thing as a safe tan, because a tan is the result of your skin being unsafe.

Yet there is no denying that people love to tan, and though it may be causing your skin damage, the results make you appear healthier. As a result, tanning will always continue to be a popular procedure for enhancing one’s beauty. So the next step is to figure out which method of tanning is safer, so at the very least you can reduce the amount of damage you receive to your skin. There are two ways to get a real tan on your body:

  • Tanning Outdoors in the Sun
  • Tanning Indoors in a Tanning Booth

Both of these subject your skin to UV rays, causing the damage necessary to give yourself a tan. So which one of these two options is safest?

Tanning Bed Benefits

Tanning beds offer you a variety of benefits that you do not get from the sun. The most basic benefit is control. When you are in the sun, the amount of UV rays and the time you spend tanning your body are in constant flux. You are likely moving around, there are people walking by (creating shadows), there are clouds – there is no way to measure exactly how much sun you have received.

Tanning beds give you complete control over your tan. There are no shadows, and there is no guesswork. If you set the tanning bed to 10 minutes, then you are getting UV rays all over your body for exactly 10 minutes. That control can certainly help you ensure you burn less and reduce any unnecessary sun damage.

Tanning Bed Weaknesses

However, that control also comes with a cost. The UV rays that tanning beds shower on your body are worse for your skin than the sun. Your skin receives far more damage in the 10 minutes you are in a tanning booth than it would during an equivalent 10 minutes in the sun. Similarly, while you can control your UV exposure in the tanning booth, you will still need to spend time outside, and while you are outside you are going to receive additional damage to the rays you received in the tanning bed. Unless you are constantly slathering a very high SPF on your body, there are going to be times where tanning is not in your control.

Overall Thoughts

Both tanning beds and sun tanning are dangerous. Tanning beds offer greater control, but at the risk of harsher UV exposure, while time in the sun is not as damaging, but is prone to error. The safer method is going to be the method that you believe you can control the best in order to reduce unnecessary sun exposure. If you believe that you can avoid the sun’s damage, a tanning booth might be better. If you believe that you will not overdo your sun exposure, including leaving the sun even before you have received as much as necessary, sun tanning is a better option.

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