Top of page Skip navigation

Myths and facts:

Being tanned is not a sign of health

The fact that your skin has changed colour is a sign of damage. UV from sunbeds, can also damage your eyes and lead to eye cancer, conjunctivitis and irritation if you do not wear goggles.

Skin damage from sunbeds is just as big a problem for young people

He damage from UV radiation can not be seen immediately. It builds up over time. Everytime you use a sunbed you are damaging your skin. Using sunbeds for the first time before the age of 35 increases your risk of developing melanoma skin cancer by 75%. Surgical treatment for skin cancer can result in serious scarring.


Spending more time on sunbeds will not make your tan look any better

We each have our own tanning limits. No matter how much UV you receive there comes a point when your skin won't get any darker. Using sunbeds will make your skin coarse, leathery and wrinkled. Boosting your tan by having two sunbed sessions within 24 hours or after sunbathing is particularly harmful. Get your beauty sleep in your own bed, rather than on a sunbed.


Sunbed tanning is no safer than sun tanning

Sunbeds are not a 'safe' alternative to sun tanning. The main cause of skin cancer is overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Like the sun, sunbeds give off UVA and UVB rays. While sunburn is mostly caused by UVB, both types of UV can cause DNA damage, which can lead to skin cancer.

Modern sunbeds emit mostly UVA rays, but UVB rays can make up anywhere from 0.5-4% of their total output. These emissions can be comparable to the midday sun. And the amount of UVA given off can be 10-15 times higher than the midday sun. .

You cannot tan safely by building your sunbed tan gradually

Unfortunately, using sunscreen or limiting your time on a sunbed will not completely protect your skin from damage and ageing. In fact, short periods of intense, irregular UV exposure, like you get on a sunbed, are the fastest way to damage your skin.

A tan will not provide much protection from the sun on holiday

A tan offers very limited protection from sunlight or burning. At most, a sunbed tan is the equivalent to a sunscreen with SPF of just 2-4. Not enough to keep you safe in the sun. And if you don't tan easily in the sun, you won't tan easily on a sunbed.

You don't need to burn to get a tan

Burning or going red under a sunbed is a sign that you have seriously harmed your skin. UV can penetrate deep into the skin's layers and damage the DNA in our skin cells. Cells damaged by UV are at greater risk of mutating and then dividing uncontrollably, which is what happens in cancer.

You don't need a sunbed to produce vitamin D

Vitamin D is essential for good health. Our bodies make the vitamin when our skin is exposed to UV rays and it is also present in certain foods. You only need short exposures to the sun to produce adequate amounts. So you don’t need a sunbed to get your vitamins!

Who is most at risk?

Young people with delicate skin and people with fair skin (skin type 1) that tends to burn easily are at high risk from problems from sunbed use. 

The ugly facts:

Sunbeds are not a safe alternative to tanning outdoors.

Sunbeds give out UV rays which damage the DNA in your skin cells. Over time, this damage can build up and may eventually lead to skin cancer.

Experts recently moved sunbeds from the ‘probably carcinogenic’ category to ‘carcinogenic’. This puts sunbeds in the same category as tobacco, alcohol and asbestos.

Young people are particularly at risk – people who first use a sunbed before the age of 35 have a 75% increased risk of developing melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer.

It’s not only so called ‘binge tanners’ who are putting themselves in danger. Using a sunbed just once a month or more can increase the risk of melanoma by more than half.