How Does a Tanning Bed Work?

Tanning beds help the fans of tan to get the brown skin artificially. One must not use a tanning bed without knowing how it functions. Read on for it.

Written by: Aparna Mir Updated at: 2015-09-02 17:32

Tanning is the process of darkening of skin with sun exposure. Some people find it so appealing that they opt for artificial methods to get the tan. Technology has advanced by leaps and bounds and tanning beds are available to cater to this demand.

A tanning bed

A tanning bed, also known as a sun-bed, is a machine used to produce an artificial tan by imitating the sun's ultraviolet (UV) radiation. A typical tanning bed emits 95% UVA and only 5% UVB, although some new models produce only UVA. Because UVB rays are considered carcinogenic, manufacturers have come up with a series of filters that seem to eliminate UVB rays and make the beds safer.

The UV radiations are produced with the help of bulbs or UV lamps. They lead to faster melanin production than what happens under the sun giving that golden colour to your skin.

A normal tanning bed contains around 10—15 lamps fixed beneath the bed. Each of these lamps uses an electric power of 100 to 200 watts to illuminate. An inductor, known as choke ballast, is fixed inside the bulbs to regulate the rate of current flowing through the bulbs. After switching on the current, the bulb starts producing high amount of UV radiations containing both UVA and UVB.

Of all the different types of tanning beds, high pressure tanning beds have a long-lasting effect on the skin. These use bulbs made up of quartz fillers that produce UV radiations that are more harmful than those produced from normal tanning beds.


What to expect

When a person goes to a tanning salon, he is asked to lie on a tanning table. The bulbs are then lighted to produce rays. The rays start penetrating into all parts of the body that is exposed to the radiation source. The amount of tanning one gets is governed by the extent of exposure one gets from lying on the bed. Although they are considered safe, prolonged exposure to these radiations and lying close to the source may develop serious skin problems.


Health risks

Tanning beds may prove to be very harmful to the sensitive parts of the body such as eyes. If a person lies on the bed without covering his eyes, the rays may penetrate into the cornea of the eyes and result in cataract. If not properly cured, it may also cause permanent blindness.


Safety tips

  • Visit a few salons and ask to see the beds. If you see any dirty build-up, like where the glass meets the edge of the bed, leave and never return. Shop around, compare salons, and choose the one you like most.
  • One important thing to be open about is what kind of prescription medication you're using. Some can affect the way your skin reacts to tanning beds in a very bad way.
  • Any decent salon will make sure you have goggles. If they don't insist, then they don't care about your safety.
  • Don't get tyrosine-based tanning accelerators, lotion, tanning enhancers/tingles or pills.
  • A good tanning salon employee will know better and will start you off with a "low dosage" and increase it gradually (depending on your skin responded) every time you return.




Read more articles on Tanning.




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