Truth: According to the ITA (Indoor Tanning Association), one of the most incorrectly quoted statistics about tanning beds is that they are up to 15 times stronger than the sun's UV rays. The truth is most beds are typically only about twice as strong as the sun.
It's that strength that allows you to get a tan faster than you would outside. For example, a ten minute indoor tan might be equivalent to twenty minutes of direct, midday sunlight.
Myth: The Government Says Tanning is Bad
Truth: Indoor tanning is monitored by the U.S. FDA (Food and Drug Administration) and the FTC (Federal Trade Commission). They regulate the tanning industry, its equipment and its safety standards, like the need for protective eyewear.
Unfortunately, some states have started to regulate tanning bed usage. For example, twenty-five states restrict the use of tanning beds for teens under the age of 18 by either banning it completely or requiring parental permission.
Currently, the FDA is re-evaluating tanning bed warning labels under the direction of the Tanning Accountability and Notification (TAN) Act. Depending on their findings, the tanning industry may be required to completely revamp their equipment, outfitting it and their shops with new warning signs and labels. While the act has passed, the FDA has yet to release its findings.
Myth: You Can Become Addicted to Tanning
Truth: Because tanning and UV exposure come with an endorphin rush (that's why tanning feels so good), there's a theory that people can become "addicted" to tanning. The truth is, most regular tanners do so in moderation.
Of course, there are people who tan too much. There are also people who eat too much, drink too much or watch too much TV. Anything done in excess is dangerous, but moderate, regular tanning is far from a dangerous addiction.
Myth: If You Tan, You'll Get Cancer
Truth: Indoor tanning was labeled as a "carcinogen" (cancer-causing agent) in 2005 by the NIH (National Institute of Health). But, that doesn't mean all tanning will cause cancer.
In fact, a number of common, everyday substances are also labeled as carcinogens - from the ingredients of your shampoo to the chemicals used to treat your carpet. Just because you wash your hair every day, that doesn't mean you're going to get cancer.
Myth: All UV Exposure is Bad
Truth: The biggest contributors to skin cancer are major burns. In fact, one severe burn as a child can double your risk of developing melanoma while the risks associated with moderate, consistent exposure are limited. Tanning lets you get that moderate amount of UV exposure in a controlled environment. It also lets you access all the good benefits of UV exposure, like vitamin D production and increased mood levels.
Ron Wilson is the Director of Sales for ETS Tan, one of the largest tanning bed and tanning salon product producers. Ron shares frequent industry insights on his blog at http://etstan.com and enjoys working directly with tan salon owners and tanning bed distributors.