Tanning is as a result of overproduction of the skin pigment called melanin that results in darkening of the skin. While most people believe that a skin can result in a beautiful glow the reality is that a tan shows that the skin is trying to protect itself from damages. Typically, a tan is a natural mechanism for the body to defend itself against prolonged exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays from both the artificial sources and the sun. Artificial tanning mostly through indoor tanning beds and lamps has prevalently grown in popularity especially among women. Tanning products such as sunless sprays, tanning pills, and self-tanners all increase the risks of exposure to UV rays. However, studies on the dangers of UV exposure have exposed that any tan is unhealthy either from artificial tans or overexposure to sun rays. Prolonged exposure to UV rays has a long-term advance effect s and a number of shortcomings.

The short-term effects include sunburns and allergic itchy rashes to people who are sensitive to UV rays. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), indicates that around 3000 people visit emergency rooms in a year due to injuries sustained in indoor tanning lamps and beds. The long-term effects of overexposure include irreversible damages to the eyes, skin and the suppressed immunity. Tanning results in the loss in skin elasticity and increased risk for premature aging. Premature aging or photoaging is normally caused by unprotected exposure to UV rays.

Research indicates that unprotected prolonged exposure to detrimental UV rays results in a breakdown of elastin and collagen fibers in healthy skin resulting in dark spots, wrinkled and leathery skin. Studies from World Health Organization (WHO) highlight that prolonged exposure to UV may result in the suppressed functioning of the immune system especially in people who have been previously treated for Herpes simplex virus; prolonged exposure to sun rays may weaken the immune system to an extent that is impossible to moderating the virus. Solar keratosis or actinic is also another effect that arises from prolonged exposure to sunlight. Solar keratosis is a common premalignant skin condition that is mostly associated with skin cancer.

There are two types of ultraviolet radiation that causes damages to the skin UVB and UVA rays. Artificial tans like indoor tanning beds ordinarily emit UVA rays at much higher concentration levels than the sun. On the other hand, lamps emit UVB rays. Typically, UVA rays penetrate the skin, causing damages to it. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) indicates that such have detrimental damages to the skin. The report indicates that women who frequently use tanning beds as much as once per month have a 55% increased rate for contacting skin cancer. Similarly, studies affirm that tanning lamps presents highest dominance in cancer risks. In essence, the risk of exposure to indoor tanning is actually higher than prolonged exposure to sun rays. In sum, research indicates that indoor tanning increases the risk of skin cancers including carcinoma and squamous cell as well as melanoma.

Apart from skin cancer, generally exposure to both UVB and UVA rays results in damaged DNA. Most people argue that artificial tanning is safer than prolonged exposure to the sun; however, the reality is that unlike intensity from artificial tans the sun radiation varies depending on the cloud covering, the season and time of the day. The bottom line is that tanning either from artificial or natural sources is harmful to the body and very detrimental. Meanwhile, wear sunscreens; avoid tanning beds and prolonged exposure to the sun to protect your skin.