According to an article in the periodical Nursing Times, June 1997, a half-hour under a tanning lamp provides the same amount of UVA rays as a day in the sun. In effect, contrary to advertisements, this method can be dangerous and can cause damage to the epidermis. The reason why tanning salons advertise"a tan without the dangers associated with the sun" is simple. The lamps used give off ultraviolet A rays (UVA), called tanning rays which, as the name suggests, tan the skin. Many sun lamps also give out an appreciable amount of ultraviolet B rays (UVB). Even though UVA rays don't burn the skin as UVB rays do, they are far from being safe. Unlike UVB rays, UVA rays are always the same strength regardless of the time of day, the time of year or the latitude where we are.
Like the sun...
Regular exposure to ultraviolet rays from sun lamps may be responsible for cold sores, heat stroke, premature ageing of the skin, wrinkles, the appearance of cataracts and weakening of the immune system. Repeated exposure to ultraviolet rays may increase the risk of skin cancers such as malignant melanoma, which is the most serious form of skin cancer. Many fair-skinned people think that tanning sessions will give them a harmless tan or that once they have gotten a tan under the sun lamps, their darker skin will protect them against the sun's UV rays. These are false beliefs that could cause problems. In fact, tanning indoors may damage the skin just as much as the sun and increases protection against the sun only to factor 3, far from the recommended minimum of 15.
The brilliant choice
Since UV rays from sun lamps can, in the short- and long-term, cause dangerous problems, it is strongly recommended that you not use this method especially if you are fair-skinned or sunburn easily. However, if you decide to go to a tanning salon, protect your skin. Use a sun block of 15 or more and pay particular attention to sensitive areas such as the nose and lips. Cover the eyes well to prevent any damage. The sun lamps' UV rays are of higher intensity than those from the sun and you have to be extremely careful. Very few studies have been done to confirm the effectiveness of creams and tablets for tans without sunlight. We do not know the long-term effects of their use. Self-tanning creams found in stores tint the skin's surface without affecting the lower layers. They don't protect you from the sun's ultraviolet rays but may be used without danger.
Special thanks to the Canadian Cancer Society for this information