Despite the fact that tanning beds have now been classified as known carcinogens, people continue to risk developing melanoma just for a fake bake. Today, the 10 percent tanning tax goes into effect, so we wanted to break apart some persistent myths about tanning beds. Manhattan-based dermatologist Dr. Debra Jaliman has the straight facts on what tanning can and can't do. To see if you're in the know, just keep reading.
Myth 1: Getting a base tan is good, because it protects your skin.
"A base tan isn't safer," Dr. Jaliman says. "Anytime you're tanning, you're damaging skin because you're producing melanin that shouldn’t be there to begin with. If you're changing your genetic skin color, you're damaging your skin."
Myth 2: Newer "high UVA" tanning beds are less damaging.
"No tanning bed is less dangerous," according to Dr. Jaliman. "They are all dangerous and will all cause skin cancer."
Myth 3: Light from a tanning bed is the same as sunlight.
Not at all, Dr. Jaliman says. "UV rays in tanning beds are 98 percent UVA rays," she explains. "UV rays from sun are both UVA and UVB. UVB are the burning rays, and UVA are the rays that penetrate deep into skin, damaging collagen, elastic tissue, causing skin cancer, and also changing the pigment in skin, causing melasma and brown spots."
Myth 4: Tanning makes you look better and healthier.
It actually does just the opposite. "Tanning depresses your immune system," Dr. Jaliman explains, "and you therefore are actually at a higher risk of getting sick. It also breaks blood vessels, damages the skin, creating a leathery, rough feel, creates uneven pigmentation, and causes wrinkles."
Myth 5: If you just tan for short periods, it's safe.
Dr. Jaliman's answer for this one? A flat-out "No!"