Body Changes When Tanning

When you spend time in a tanning booth, it is expected that you will receive darker, tanned skin. That is the point of the tanning booth – to expose yourself to pure UV rays in order to darken your skin in a controlled environment, without depending on the sun.

body changes during tanning

Tanning booths are a good way to get tan when the sun is unavailable, or when you are worried that you may spend too much time in the sun and overexpose yourself to the sun’s harmful rays. However, tanner skin is not the only thing you can expect from your time in the tanning booth. There are also several other possible changes that may occur.

How Your Body Changes in the Tanning Booth

  1. Hair Color

There are people that have natural hair colors that change when exposed to the sun’s rays. Some people’s hair has what are called “Keratinocytes.” These pigments are sensitive to light and release a pigment hormone that can change the color of your hair.

If your hair has this feature, then the time you spend in the tanning booth is also going to change your hair color. You can protect yourself from this change by covering your hair while you tan.

  1. Skin Condition

When you are tanning, your skin is being exposed to radiation that penetrates deep inside the skin, heating it up and causing the tanning. But in addition to tanning, the liquid inside of your skin is also evaporating. After you tan, your skin will likely feel dry and lose a lot of its life and moisture.

It is recommended that you moisturize soon after tanning in order to give your skin back some of its moisture. Note: It is also a good idea to drink water before you go into the tanning booth because that same heat that removes moisture from your skin is also going to be removing water from your body.

  1. Muscle Appearance

No, tanning does not increase the size of your muscles. But it does give your skin a naturally leaner look. That leaner look will make your muscles look larger, and that appearance will show not long after you have first seen your tan. Some people tan specifically to make their muscles appear larger, and there is no denying that the process works quite well.

Changes From Tanning

Tanning booths are designed to put you in greater control of your tanning. But you should always remember that tanning booths may cause other changes to your appearance as well. Your hair may change color if you have a high amount of keratinocytes. Your skin is going to be much dryer without moisturizing. And your muscles are going to appear larger even though they actually remain unchanged.

When you go to the tanning salon, don’t forget that anything the sun can do, the tanning salon will do as well. It is important to ensure that you know exactly what will happen to you and your body when you are tanning in a tanning booth so that you know how you will see yourself when you look in the mirror.

Risks of Tanning Beds

The sun is always free. Provided you live in a place that doesn’t suffer from torrential downpours or perennial winters, you will have the opportunity to at least try to tan in the outdoors, taking advantage of the sun and getting a dark tan that you can be proud of.

But the sun also goes away, and when the sun is not there (or if you work nights, or if you don’t want to be seen in a bathing suit, etc.), the other option for receiving the same type of tan is with a tanning beds. Tanning beds supply you with the rays you need to get a tan, without having to be in the sun. In fact, tanning beds are also able to give you the tan faster, as well as prepare you better for the summer.

But tanning beds are not the safest machines, and carry a number of different risks and dangers that you need to consider before you use them.

Dangers of Tanning Beds

  • Skin Cancer

Perhaps the most significant risk of tanning beds is the risk of skin cancer. Skin cancer occurs when the UV rays from tanning beds negatively affects your DNA repair, which can cause cancerous cells to form. Skin cancer can be incredibly dangerous, and though fatal skin cancers are rare, they still present a common and persistent risk with anyone that uses tanning beds

  • Skin Aging

The more your skin sees the sun, the more damage it receives, and this damage can cause your skin to age prematurely. It is not uncommon for those that have received significant sun exposure to have skin that has aged prematurely due to a great deal of longstanding damage that has occurred over time.

  • Sun Spots/Discolorations

Sun damage can also cause a variety of more aesthetic issues, including the creation of sun spots, freckles, random discolorations and other issues. When you are tanning for the sole purpose of improving your appearance, these skin issues may defeat your goals.

  • Sunburns

You also run the risk of experiencing too many rays, ultimately leading to burns. These burns can be painful, cause your skin to peel, and increase your risk of skin cancer.

Tanning Beds Getting Better?

Recent efforts have been put into trying to reduce the damage caused by tanning beds. Overall, there have been some improvements. Tanning beds have been altered to create fewer UVB rays, which are the main source of skin cancer. This is a considerable upgrade and represents much less risk for your skin. But much less risk is not nearly the same thing as “no risk.” UVA rays have been shown to still be risky for those that experience them regularly, and science has shown that you are still at risk for skin cancer even in the tanning beds that emit no UVB rays.

But tanning beds are at least improving, and the fact that manufacturers are working towards something safer leaves hope that these will be better options in the future.

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.

How to Tan With a Sun Allergy

Some people are born with or develop allergies to the sun’s rays. These allergies can differ in severity considerably, but most people that develop an allergy either become itchy or red upon exposure to the sun. There are also different types of “sun allergies” including Polymorphous Light Eruption, which is not necessarily a sun allergy but more of a sun sensitivity.

Regardless, there is no denying that some people itch when they are exposed to too much sun. For those that itch, it can be difficult to try to get tan, because the best way of tanning is with sun exposure.

For those that have skin allergies, there are tanning solutions. They are not as permanent as sun tanning, but there are ways to get the tan that you want.

Sunless Tanning Options

Your only true choice if you have a skin allergy is to do sunless tanning. There are a variety of sunless tanning options including:

  • Tanning sprays.
  • Tanning lotions.
  • Tanning creams.

And a variety of other salon and non-salon tanning treatments. Skin allergies are almost exclusively due to UV rays, and these sunless tanning options allow you to bypass UV rays and still receive the tan you want.

Will it Look Real?

Long ago, sunless tanners were not nearly as effective, often causing an almost hilarious orange appearance that gave them a bad name. But since then the science behind them has undergone a number of changes, and now they have a much easier time of achieving the visible results you are looking for. You still have to make the right choices with regard to your sunless tanners, but assuming you do, you should be happy with the results.

What are the Drawbacks?

The only true drawbacks of these sunless tanners are that they tend to not last nearly as long as true suntans. The average sunless tanning lotion or spray lasts approximately 10 days at best, and even then they undergo a great deal of fading. In order to reduce this, you can simply reapply the lotions regularly, but this is hardly a perfect solution, and at any given point you can stop using the cream and lose your tan completely. There are also several issues that may occur with streaking, and it takes a fair degree of accuracy on your part to keep your tan looking healthy.

However, for those with skin allergies, these tanning options are really the only safe and effective way to get your skin the dark color you are looking for. They have the ability to create darker skin, they do not affect the health of your skin, and they are able to do all of this without subjecting you to the sun’s UV rays. When you suffer from a sun allergy, you can risk serious itching and skin problems by basking in the sun’s rays, but why subject yourself to the symptoms of your allergy when sunless tanners will provide you with the same look without any of the harsh sun.