Indoor tanning, for individuals who can tan, is an intelligent way to minimize the risk of contracting sunburn while maximizing the enjoyment and benefit of having a tan. Again, we call this SMART TANNING because tanners are taught by trained tanning facility personnel how their skin type reacts to sunlight and how to avoid sunburn outdoors, as well as in a salon.
Tanning in a professional facility today minimizes risk because commercial tanning salons in the United States and in most Canadian provinces are regulated by the government. That kind of control is impossible outdoors, where variables including seasonality, time of day, weather conditions, reflective surfaces and altitude all make outdoor tanning a random act and sunburn prevention more difficult.
Indoor Tanning Offers Control
Indoor tanners are at a great advantage by having access to the control that goes into the indoor tanning process. In addition to various state and local regulations in place, national guidelines set by the Federal government enhance the controllable factors involved in indoor tanning. Since 1986, Federal Performance Standards for tanning devices have been in place to cover and control many of the following aspects of indoor tanning:
- Timer control
- Protective eyewear
- Temperature control
- Electrical safety
- Protection from lamps
- Equipment access and support, and more
The Facts about UV and Vitamin D
UV exposure is the body's natural and most most effective way to produce Vitamin D
- There is growing acceptance of moderate sun exposure as the best, cheapest,most widely available and most natural source of Vitamin D. A Full Body Tan makes more than 10,000 iu of Vitamin D. In comparison, an 8-ounce glass of whole milk is fortified with just 100 IU of Vitamin D.
- Because research suggests that the risks associated with sun exposure are most likely related to intermittent sunburns, it is credible to believe that the benefits of regular, non-burning sun exposure outweigh the easily manageable risks associated with overexposure
New research has shown that Vitamin D Deficiency is epidemic in American Adults today
"When you ingest vitamin D, only about 60 percent of it sticks to vitamin D-binding protein, but when you make vitamin D in your skin, 100 percent binds to the protein."
— Dr. Michael F. Holick,
Boston University Vitamin D research pioneer, from his book, "The Vitamin D Solution" available in bookstores and on most on-line book sites.
Holick’s point: vitamin D made the natural way, through sun exposure to the skin, works much more effectively than vitamin D ingested in diet. Very few food sources contain indigenous vitamin D. Fatty fish like salmon have up to 1,000 IU of vitamin D (if you get it straight from the river — fish in the store have less D) but they get it from the plankton they eat which get it from the sun. More Information...
Vitamin D is supplemented into milk. It doesn’t occur naturally in milk. Vitamin D info above courteous of the www.sunshinevitamin.org website
Sun exposure to the skin is the human race’s natural, intended, most effective and most neglected source of vitamin D
Vitamin D sufficiency, along with diet and exercise, has emerged as one of the most important preventive factors in human health. Hundreds of studies now link vitamin D deficiency with significantly higher rates of many forms of cancer‚ as well as heart disease‚ osteoporosis‚ multiple sclerosis and many other conditions and diseases.
Because sunshine is a free commodity with no publicist or lobbyist, the Sunshine Vitamin Alliance is established as a coalition of right-minded physicians, individuals and organizations who advocate natural vitamin D production through regular, non-burning sun exposure.
Humans make 90 percent of our vitamin D naturally from sunlight exposure to our skin – specifically, from ultraviolet B exposure to the skin, which naturally initiates the conversion of cholesterol in the skin to vitamin D3.
Few foods naturally contain or are fortified with supplemental vitamin D. For example, an 8-ounce glass of whole milk is fortified with 100 IU (international units) of vitamin D – just 10 percent of what the most conservative vitamin D researchers now say we need daily. In contrast, sun exposure to the skin makes thousands of units of vitamin D naturally in a relatively short period of time.
While vitamin D supplements are an alternative means of producing vitamin D when regular, non-burning sun exposure is not possible, oral supplementation of vitamin D is not nature’s intended means of producing this vitamin.
While overexposure to sunlight carries risks, the cosmetic skin care industry has misled the public into believing that any UV exposure is harmful. No research has shown that regular, non-burning exposure to UV light poses a significant risk of skin damage.
Humans spend less time in the sun today than at any point in human history – which is why more than 1 billion people worldwide are vitamin D deficient.
Vitamin D Comes From the Sun
Sunlight is the best and only natural source of vitamin D. Unlike dietary or supplementary vitamin D, when you get your ‘D’ from sunshine your body takes what it needs, and de-metabolizes any extra. That’s critical – as vitamin D experts and many health groups now advocate 1,000 to 2,000 IU of vitamin D daily – five to ten times the old recommendations. Because too much ‘D’ from dietary supplements may cause the body to over-process calcium, nobody really knows for sure how much supplementary vitamin D is safe. On the other hand, sunlight-induced vitamin D doesn’t have that problem – it’s the way your body is intended to make it!
- Sunlight Exposure (full body exposure)* - 3,000 – 20,000 IU
- Salmon (3.5 oz. of fresh, wild salmon) - 600 – 1,000 IU
- Salmon (3.5 oz. of fresh, farmed salmon) - 100 – 250 IU
- Fortified Whole Milk, 8-oz. glass** - 100 IU
- Fortified Multi-vitamin - 400 IU
Source: Holick, MF. Vitamin D Deficiency. New England Journal of Medicine, July 2007
* Sun exposure to the arms and legs for 10-15 minutes. The amount of vitamin D produced depends on the intensity of the UVB in the sun and many other factors. Darker-skinned individuals may need 5-10 times more exposure than a fair-skinned person to make the same amount of vitamin D. In northern climates sunlight is too weak in parts of the year to make any vitamin D – a period referred to as ‘Vitamin D Winter’.
** Vitamin D is supplemented into milk. It doesn’t occur naturally in milk. Vitamin D info above courteous of the sunshinevitamin.org website
Variables Involved In Outdoor Tanning
Outdoor tanners are at the mercy of many uncontrolled elements. Here is an example of a few things to consider if tanning outdoors
1. Solar elevation (height of the sun in the sky)
The intensity of outdoor ultraviolet light (the sun), and especially UVB, depends on the height of the sun in the sky. This will vary depending on the season of the year, time of day and latitude in which you live. UV intensities are highest during the summer months in the 4-hour period around noon (or 13:00 if daylight saving is in effect).
UVB intensity varies more with the time of the day than does UVA. As a rule of thumb "when your shadow is shorter than your own height" you may receive half or more of UVB during the 4 hours around solar noon on a clear summer day. In summer at noontime, UVB is two to three times more intense in equatorial areas than in northern Europe. At about 600 latitude the total UVB exposure during the months of January and February can be less than one clear day's exposure around midsummer.
2. Latitude and Altitude
The UV intensity at the earth's surface is related to the angle at which the UV rays pass through the atmosphere. In the tropics (close to 00 latitude, or near the equator) solar UV is more intense because it has less distance to travel through the atmosphere to the earth's surface.
UV intensities increase with altitude. This is because the amount of atmosphere available to absorb UV is reduced, and so more and shorter wavelength UV is able to reach higher altitude areas. In high altitudes, skiers can be exposed to higher intensities of UV, especially as snow is an excellent reflector.
3. Atmospheric Scattering
Solar UV is composed of direct and scattered radiation. The sky looks blue because the blue rays from sunlight are highly scattered by the atmosphere. UV is scattered even more than blue light, and this can lead to an increase in a person's exposure.
4. Clouds and Haze
UV intensities are highest under cloudless skies. Clouds generally reduce UV intensity, but light or thin clouds have little effect and under certain conditions may even enhance the UV intensity. Hazy days generally have higher amounts of water vapor; UV scatter in the atmosphere increases and can result in a higher personal UV exposure. Thus, even though haze or cloud cover can cause one to feel cooler, the UV exposure can still be high.
5. Ground reflection
The reflective properties of the ground have an influence on UV exposure. Most natural surfaces such as grass, soil and water reflect less than 10% of incident UV. However, fresh snow strongly reflects (80%) UV. During spring in higher altitudes, under clear skies, reflection from snow could increase UV exposure levels to those encountered during summer. Sand also reflects (10-25%) and can significantly increase UV exposure at the beach.
Reflected UV is a key source of exposure to the eye. Acute effects, such as snow-blindness while skiing or photokeratitis at the beach, can result from UV reflected from snow or sand respectively.
How Do Indoor Tanning Facilities Teach Sunburn Prevention ?
The indoor tanning industry is at the forefront in educating people how to successfully avoid sunburn over the course of one's life. In fact, studies of indoor tanners have shown consistently that indoor tanning customers, once they begin tanning in a professional salon, are up to 81 percent less likely to sunburn than they were before they started tanning.
Consider that sunburn incidence in the general population has been steadily increasing. Sunburn increased 9 percent from 1986-1996, according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), and the sub-group most likely to burn was older men.
We believe that teaching people strictly to avoid the sun may be making them more likely to sunburn when they do go outside for summer activities - and everyone does go outdoors at some point. Consider:
- Tanning is your body's natural defense mechanism against sunburn, and indoor tanners have activated this defense against burning; non-tanners are more vulnerable when they inevitably do go outdoors. Indoor tanners are educated at professional tanning facilities how to avoid sunburn outdoors, how to use sunscreens appropriately and how to properly moisturize their skin.
- When you also consider that the majority of people who sunburn are male, according to the AAD, and that 65-70 percent of indoor tanning customers are female, clearly, it is non-tanners who are doing most of the burning outdoors. In the war against sunburn, tanning salons are part of the solution. Those who abstain from sun exposure completely are more likely to sunburn when they inevitably do go outdoors, even if they attempt to wear sunscreen.