Indoor tanning equipment, like outdoor sunlight, emits UVA (ultraviolet A) and UVB (ultraviolet B) light. Of the UV light emitted by the sun at noon in the summer in the United States: 95 percent is UVA and 5 percent is UVB.
Most professional indoor tanning units emit about 95 percent UVA and 5 percent UVB in regulated dosages similar to summer sun. Recommended exposure schedules developed by the U.S. FDA in cooperation with the tanning industry allow trained indoor tanning operators to set incremental exposure times, based on the “skin type” of a patron, that deliver consistent non-burning dosages of UV light to allow a tanner to gradually build a tan.
The total output of a tanning unit is measured the following way:
Total UV Output = UV Intensity x Duration of Exposure
While tanning units may be 2-3 times as intense as summer sun, the duration of exposure is controlled, and thus the total UV output is controlled, to minimize the risk of sunburn. A typical indoor tanning exposure schedule (below) allows a professional indoor tanning operator to gradually increase the exposure times of a tanner over the course of the tanner’s regimen based on the individual’s skin type.
Recommended Exposure Schedule
UV Tanning is not for everyone
Less than 5 percent of North Americans are what is called “Skin Type I” – which includes people of Northern European heritages (some Irish or English people, for example) whose skin is so fair that it cannot tan without burning. North American indoor tanning protocol is not to allow these people to use UV tanning equipment in salons, and our skin type questionnaire identifies them. However there is great news for those with type I skin. Spray-on tanning systems are so advanced, that they can still acquire a natural looking tan with new spray tanning technology.
Tanning Salon Responsibility
- Trained operators control all tanning exposure times, minimizing a client’s risk of overexposure and sunburn, and require tanners to use FDA-compliant protective eyewear, which eliminates the risk of eye injury.
- All clients undergo comprehensive evaluations, including identifying their sun sensitivity (skin type). Clients also are taught about photosensitizing medications, which can potentially make a person more susceptible to sunburn.
- Clients are taught sunburn prevention and the appropriate use of outdoor sunscreen. This education, combined with the fact that a tan is nature’s protection against sunburn, is why indoor tanning clients are up to 81 percent less likely to sunburn outdoors as compared to non-tanners, according to surveys.
- Clients are presented with material outlining the potential risks of overexposure to UV light and sign informed consent agreements acknowledging this.
Notice: Exposure to ultraviolet radiation may increase the risk of skin damage, skin cancer and can cause serious eye injury.