Solariums and sunbeds are not a safe way to tan.
There is strong evidence that this form of artificial tanning, which uses high doses of ultraviolet radiation (UVR), damages the skin and increases the risk of skin cancer.
Solariums and sunbeds emit UVR, which is made up of both UVA and UVB rays. UVA and UVB are linked to premature ageing and wrinkling of skin, and are primarily responsible for causing sunburn and skin cancer. It’s important to note that all skin types will suffer skin damage if constantly exposed to UVR over time.
The UVR dose accumulated while using a solarium has been shown to increase the risk of developing skin cancer. Individuals with skin that burns easily and is slow to tan are most at risk of developing skin cancer.
Despite testimonials or advice from some solarium operators that tanning in a solarium will provide your skin with a layer of 'protection', any tan obtained by using a solarium or sunbed will not adequately protect the skin from the harmful effects of further UVR. This is regardless of whether the UVR is from solarium, sunbeds or natural sunlight.
In Queensland, thre are now laws that govern solariums. Under these new laws:
- Licences are required for people who own/control a solarium or put a client through a tanning session. These licences are 'possession' licences (like registration for a car) and 'use' licences (like a driver's licence)
- It is against the law for a solarium business to allow a person under the age of 18 to use a solarium for tanning. This is because UV radiation is most damaging during childhood and adolescence - especially when sunburn occurs
- It is against the law for a person with pale skin that never tans and always burns to use a solarium. These people do not produce melanin (which causes tanning) in their skin and cannot tan. A spray tan or tanning lotion is a much safer choice for people with very pale skin who wish to appear tanned
- For people who are able to tan, exposure times for solariums are controlled. These are determined by the UV irradiance generated by te solarium and the skin type of the client. Getting a tan slowly and gradually is preferable to a fast tanning time, with the risk of becoming burnt
- If you do choose to tan, ask to see the operator's use licence
- You must also be asked to complete a consent form, before starting to use a solarium
- Operators who are unlicensed are operaing outside of the law. For further information, contact Radiation Health Unit, Queensland Health, who licence solarium operations.
- Fashion to Die For Campaign (SunSmart and the Cancer Council Victoria)
- Are solariums a safe place to tan?’ brochure (Cancer Council Queensland)
- Solaria for Cosmetic Purposes (Australian Standards AS/NZS 2635:2008 )
- National uniform requirements to regulate the solarium industry (Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA))
- Profile and fact sheet about the Queensland solarium industry (Queensland Health)