How Do Tanning Beds Work?

Tanning beds use an ultraviolet light bulb to create UV radiation, which tans the skin just like UV light from the sun. Exposure to UV radiation can increase your risk of developing skin cancer. The light from a tanning bed is particularly dangerous. The Skin Cancer Foundation reports that people who visit tanning booths are 74 percent more likely to develop melanoma than those who do not tan indoors.

Tanning booths are not a safe way to get color. (Image: LuckyBusiness/iStock/Getty Images)

How You Tan

The UV radiation from the sun and indoor tanning lights that creates your "glow" is a type called UVA. These rays stimulate melanocytes, cells in the lower skin layers, to produce melanin, a brownish pigment. Increased melanin protects your body from burning, so it serves as your body's protection against exposure to UV light. UVA light penetrates deep into the skin -- below the protective layer known as the epidermis, though. When the light hits the dermis, it also reaches blood vessels and nerves -- which can compromise your immune system and leave you vulnerable to melanoma. The UVA light also causes premature aging.

Load comments

Copyright © 2019 Leaf Group Ltd. Use of this web site constitutes acceptance of the LIVESTRONG.COM Terms of Use , Privacy Policy and Copyright Policy . The material appearing on LIVESTRONG.COM is for educational use only. It should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. LIVESTRONG is a registered trademark of the LIVESTRONG Foundation. The LIVESTRONG Foundation and LIVESTRONG.COM do not endorse any of the products or services that are advertised on the web site. Moreover, we do not select every advertiser or advertisement that appears on the web site-many of the advertisements are served by third party advertising companies.