As a generation, millennials and Gen-Z can generally say we’re a whole heap more sun safe than the older generation when it comes to sunbeds. But, recently faux tanning has been blowing up on TikTok and sunbeds are getting a second wind of popularity.
We get it. The UK’s wintery and wimpy sunshine (when it does make a rare appearance) is no consolation. It sort of makes sense that people are exploring their options for boosting glow. Already, #sunbed has racked up over 320 million views on TikTok. There’s tons of “before and afters”, tips, routines, tutorials circulating – alongside a weird hack involving nasal spray. And granted, the creators look particularly bronzed, it’s just… have we all conveniently forgotten how crazy dangerous they are?
Over on Twitter, one user @GracetyOConnell raised the subject with followers, writing: “Swear I’ve never heard the use of sunbeds so normalised as much as I have lately? I feel like I’m back in 2002, Sis, no [SIC].”
And the comments have been heating up with the overwhelming response to chill it. “My tiktok fyp is BURSTING with before and after sunbed videos and stuff about nasal sprays and tan injections? I’m like this is not the content I’m looking for,” one user called @SarahMagliocco replied. “I noticed this recently! My mum used to use them years ago and developed skin cancer (obviously can’t prove they were the cause but it’s likely). When there are such good tanning alternatives why take the risk?,” another user called @LaurenRAbbott said. “Did nobody watch final destination?? traumatised me as a kid would never get in one for the life of me,” said another user called @shanelle_shim.
And we’ve got to back them. Sunbeds are really bad news. Which is why to most of the skincare obsessives among us, it may seem hard to believe that they still exist – and that people are hyped about using them.
Why are sunbeds bad?
Tanning machines emit ultraviolet rays (UVA and UVB, although mostly UVA) at very close proximity to the skin in order to mimic the stimulation of the production of melanin, resulting in a tan. The rays are often stronger than those of tropical midday sun, and are unsurprisingly very harmful and damaging to the skin.
Experts agree. After getting skin cancer himself, Dr. Shah also known as @dermdoctor urges people to avoid tanning beds at all costs. He has referenced in the past how he’d gone to tanning beds hundreds of times. He tells users on TikTok that using sunbeds is not a good solution as “tanning beds are mostly UVA radiation, UVA has a longer wavelength and is most responsible for ageing of our skin, it creates the appearance of tanning by oxidising melanin but doesn’t actually increase melanin production.” He then adds: “When you use a tanning bed you’re just ageing yourself for a tan that is not going to last.”
However, that is not the only con. Using sunbeds has been proven to increase your risk of developing skin cancer; both malignant melanoma – which can spread to other areas of the body – and non-melanoma, which slowly develops in the upper layers of the skin. And no glow is worth limiting your life span.