General Question

shpadoinkle_sue's avatar

Can someone tell me about using tanning beds with fair skin?

Asked by shpadoinkle_sue (7188points) July 10th, 2010

I know I ask some obvious questions sometimes, but I learned a good lesson today about tanning beds and what my limits are. So, I was hoping there was someone who could enlighten me
I’ve got a vacation coming up and I’d like to wear shorts for it. I don’t wear shorts usually because in the sun, I do burn. I thought of maybe getting a base tan and go from there on my own. I’ve had 3 sessions the first two were for 3 minutes and the second was for 5. I am now mildly sunburned. I do mosturize before and after. I do everything the salon people tell me to do. I’ve never tried to tan before ever and I’m curious to know what I can do. Anything I’ve missed or anything special I need to do.

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26 Answers

perspicacious's avatar

Everything I read says not to use tanning beds. Just like with the sun, it will be harder on your skin since you are fair.

shpadoinkle_sue's avatar

Yeah, I know. :) I’m kinda left between a rock and a hard place here.

downtide's avatar

It’s not safe for fair skinned people to use tanning beds for any length of time.

dpworkin's avatar

Tanning beds are proven to induce melanoma, especially in the fair-skinned.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

If you insist on looking tanned, consider a spray-on tan. Stay out of the direct sun just as you would avoid hanging around inside a nuclear reactor.

Response moderated (Off-Topic)
augustlan's avatar

Like you, I burn. Badly. I’ve always been advised to stay the heck out of tanning beds. Yet, I still wear shorts on vacation. Use a strong sunscreen to keep you safe, and self-tanning lotion to get the look you desire. Make sure you choose one intended for fair skin, or it won’t look believable.

RareDenver's avatar

Just don’t use them

JLeslie's avatar

So, do you want a base tan because you burn? Or, because you want to be tan?

Forget about the tanning bed and spending the money, you burn in the bed, because you burn in the sun. Just use SPF when you are out in the sun. If you use 15 you won’t burn. My father and I are extremely fair, I can burn in 30 minutes in the hot summer sun If I use SPF 15 I can be out for hours and hours. I many times use SPF 8 to get a little tan. Or, sometimes I lay out for 20 minutes and then put on my 15 suntan lotion to try to soak up some vitamin D. Generally, I try to get a tan when I have a lot of control over how much time I am in the sun and my exposure, so literally laying out in the sun, when I can check my watch and flip around front, back side. Walking around town I tend to protect my skin completely with clothing or suntan lotion, because it is hard to really judge how long I am out in the sun, and the tan might be more on one side, etc.

Are you in the southern hemisphere? Why can’t you just go outside and get some rays before you go on vacation?

@all does anyone know specifically how those studies were done? Did they compare sun exposure to tanning bed exposure? Or, just people who use tanning beds get more skin cancer?

BoBo1946's avatar

My s/o does this….and she is fair skinned. I’m against it for all the reasons mentioned above by other members. Nothing good comes from a tanning bed!

JLeslie's avatar

@py_sue How often are you going to the tanning bed? Did you do it days in a row? Did you burn on the first try? Your burn will probably fade to tan in 2 or 3 days, and then maybe go for another 3 minutes if you are intent on using the tanning bed. Those beds must be different than when I was a teenager. My husband went into a tanning bed for 7 minutes one time last summer and he was unbelieveably dark. For him to get that color in the sun would have probably taken 5 hours in the sun. Makes me think you are maybe more likely to burn in the bed, because it seems from my subjective point of view (I have no real scientific knowledge of how those beds work now) they make you tan or burn faster than the real sun).

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

My experience is that fair-skinned people should avoid UV in any form. We don’t develop any sort of tan; just burn and peel, increasing the risk of skin cancer with each recurrence. All we can do in the sun is either cover up or keep applying the SPF 50 while limiting exposure. We can’t develop a protective “base tan” that other people can.

NaturallyMe's avatar

Yes, i would also avoid using that.
What about bronzing creams and such? My sister used it once and it came out quite nice from what i remember.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

Tanning beds or tanning period, especially coupled with smoking, will cause your skin to lose elasticity and these weird spots to appear as you age. I used to spend a lot of time in the sun when younger. If I go under a black light, my skin is a mass of black spots where there’s sun damage. On my legs, I have permanent damage in the form of brown spots between where my skirts ended mid-shin and my shoes started. (Between the ages of 30 and 40, I mostly wore one style of flat, and the sun damage follows that line of the shoe.) It’s not pretty. Sun exposure makes the spots turn gray-brown.

pearls's avatar

I am fair skinned and I won’t even get in the sun for any length of time without a high SPF sunblock, let alone a tanning bed. The risks are too great. There are other options available to you such as spray tans, lotions, etc….

augustlan's avatar

@JLeslie SPF 15? I’d burn to a crisp. I have gotten burned using SPF 50. If you’re really prone to burning, I definitely recommend using higher SPF than 15.

CaptainHarley's avatar

Yeah, I can tell you about it. DON’T DO IT! It causes cancer.

kevbo's avatar

My girlfriend has a two inch scar on her shoulder and two inch scar on her bicep because she had to have cancers removed that were likely caused by her weekly tanning bed habits—and she is not fair skinned. She will tell you emphatically that it is not worth it.

I’m a fair-skinned redhead who burns regardless of what sunscreen I use. I did tan once, however, as the result of a job that gave me 15 minute breaks in the morning and afternoon. I suggest exposing yourself that way to develop whatever base you can manage.

LuckyGuy's avatar

Hey @py_sue,
We had discussion on this before. Looks like the people above agree it is not the best idea for you.
I know you won’t believe me but I’m willing to bet you already look pretty darn good without the tan.
If you insist you need it, have you thought about a spray-on tan?

JLeslie's avatar

I think she gets the idea people don’t recommend a tanning bed for health reasons, but if she wants to do it, maybe we should stick to answering her question, which is about getting tan and burning. We trade recipes for cake and entrees with bacon on fluther, no one goes on a rant about how it is going to kill you on those threads, why are we doing it so much here?

@augustlan Yeah, SPF 15 seems to be enough for me, but I am almost never out all day, like 8 hours in the sun, if I am I put on more lotion every few hours, but generally I would move to the shade, and wear clothing to cover my skin.

I lived in FL, we always knew if someone was a tourist, because they were tan, we were all super white. I became vitamin D dificient while living down there, because I was so protective of my skin, we all are, because we are exposed so much to the sun. There is an argument out there now that UVB is not the worst part of the spectrum for causing cancer, SPF ratings have to do with UVB protection, which does protect from burn, so all of us who used suntan lotion, but still went out in the sun, still might be at increased risk for cancer, talking about cancer. Although, most lotions have UVA protection also to some extent, but it seems UVC is under criticism right now.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

My daughter is a peachy colored fair skinned, and she slathers up with an SP45 and goes out. She gets a light brown color, but it takes a lot longer. She does, however, manage to skip the burning part of the equation. The other thing she does is to select shorts in patterns rather than solid colors. For some reason that makes you look more tanned than you actually are.

JLeslie's avatar

@py_sue Also, if you go with some fake stuff for your legs try the Jergens, it has less color in it, so it does not look so fake. Don’t be stingy when you put it on, so it won’t streak. Also, use an exfolient or some sort of something in the shower to get rid of dry skin, before you put it on. Dry skin will hold on to the color more, and make the tan uneven. I use it the day before I go somewhere, make sure it looks ok, and I hate putting my good clothes on with that stuff, so I do it the day before a couple of hours before I take a shower. It’s an annoying ritual, but I do it when I know I am going to have my legs exposed in a bathing suit or for a nice event.

shpadoinkle_sue's avatar

Sorry it took me a bit of time to respond.
@JLeslie I use SPF 20 when I know I’m going to be outside walking around in the sun for a few hours. I live in Southwest Washington and we are having warm weather right now. My problem is that when I’m outside, every pore opens up and I feel really gross within an hour or so. As well as my allergies just kick my butt. I was having the sessions every other day. I’m really not prone to burning. The last time I had any kind of a pinkness from the sun was from walking around the state fair for 5 hours about 6 years ago.
@worriedguy Thank you very much. :) You’re sweet to say it.
I have tried self tanners/bronzers and they don’t work on me.
Spray tans kinda creep me out and I’m not looking for something that will last for less than a week.
I wanted to get some color finally after being so pale my entire life. I know I can get some because my arms are tan from years of being in the car. They’re a really light peach and the rest of the body is white. I don’t want to wear long pants in 90 degree weather anymore. anymore.

JLeslie's avatar

@py_sue But you said you do burn in your original question. I’m confused.

shpadoinkle_sue's avatar

I’m sorry. I should have been more specific about how I get sunburned. Sometimes I miss explaining things like that.

wolfram's avatar

Tanning beds can cause skin cancer and skin cancer has become an epidemic in the U.S. Tanning beds will age your skin at a quicker rate then normal, causing it to become thick, wrinkled and leathery so you must weigh the risks. This does not mean you should avoid the sun—just be smart about it. Avoid the sun from 11AM to 3PM, wear a hat, sun screen, limit your time to prevent sun exposure.

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