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Are tanning beds safe if used correctly?

By by Dianna Wray - DWRAY@VICAD.COM
June 1, 2012 at 1:01 a.m.
Updated June 4, 2012 at 1:04 a.m.


THE QUESTION

It's summertime and for those who are after golden tans, but don't want to get out in the sun, tanning beds are often the answer.

Tanning aficionados say tanning is good for you because it gives you a dose of vitamin D and releases serotonin, the chemical that makes people happy.

Those who are against the use of tanning beds say it is a dangerous habit that causes skin cancer.

However, after a New Jersey woman made national news after being accused of allowing her 5-year-old daughter to climb into a tanning bed alongside her, tanning has become more of an issue.

As summer sets into gear and people pull out their swimsuits, it is time to ask again: Are tanning beds safe?

skin safety TIPS

• Always wear sunscreen SPF 30 or above

• Stay hydrated

• If you choose to use a tanning bed, do not exfoliate before using the tanning bed

• Make sure your skin is moisturized

Tanning beds are safe if used correctly.

For the argument against this, read about the cons of tanning beds here.

Lynn Frazier, the manager of Tanique Etcetera, has overseen the tanning business since 1998.

Positive things come with tanning she said, noting that it gives the body vitamin D, and causes the production of serotonin.

Like so many others across the country, she followed the story of the New Jersey woman who has tanned herself to the point her skin looks like leather, and is charged with allowing her 5-year-old daughter to hop into a tanning bed alongside her.

"That story has done so much damage to this business," she said. "We would never have allowed someone in that shape to continue tanning."

Frazier acknowledged that too much tanning may cause skin damage if improperly done, but she noted that the Texas tanning industry is the third most regulated industry in the state. People must be at least 16 years old and have a parent's consent to use a tanning bed. The state also requires that tanning salons post warnings about the potential dangers of exposure to UVB rays in each tanning booth.

The tanning salons have a list of things each employee must prove they know how to spot before the employee can work alone, Frazier said.

They keep a close eye on how tanned their customers are, and adjust tanning times accordingly. They are told to moisturize often and stay hydrated to keep the skin in good condition as they use the UVB rays of the tanning bed to darken their skin.

Customers are also warned that tanning in a tanning bed does not mean they do not need to wear sunscreen outside.

"I think it's like anything else in life - use good common sense and don't overdo it," Frazier said. "I mean, eating too much chocolate isn't good for us either."

Tanning, if it's done properly, following the guidelines set down by the state and using plain common sense and balance can be good for you, she said.

Victoria resident Robert Allums echoed Frazier because he believes tanning should be more about personal responsibility than government regulation.

"It's just like anything else. Anything in excess is too much but that's something that people should decide for themselves," he said.

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