Dangers du bronzage artificiel en cabine UV

Artificial tanning: what dangers for the skin and health?

Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation is a daily reality, whether through sunlight exposure or artificial sources such as UV lamps, which have become popular for achieving a year-round golden tan. However, behind the promise of a bronzed skin, potential dangers lurk due to exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation: skin cancers.

Reading time: 4 minutes


The types of ultraviolet (UV) radiation
What are the risks associated with UV exposure?
Common misconceptions about artificial UV rays
Alternatives for a beautiful, bronzed, and healthy skin

The types of ultraviolet (UV) radiation

UV, or ultraviolet rays, are electromagnetic rays of the same nature as visible light but are not perceptible by the human eye due to their wavelength ranging between 20 nm and 400 nm.

It is crucial to understand that ultraviolet radiations are classified into three categories: UVA, UVB, and UVC.

UVA is responsible for premature skin aging, UVB can cause sunburn and contribute to skin cancer, while UVC is generally filtered by the ozone layer and does not pose a significant risk.

Artificial tanning dangers: how do UV rays work?

What are the risks associated with UV exposure?

Artificial UV radiation has been classified as a definite human carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) since 2009.

Whether of natural or artificial origin, UV radiation is dangerous. Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays poses several risks to skin health, including sunburn, accelerated skin aging (4 times faster with tanning lamps), eye inflammation, and, more seriously, the development of skin cancers such as:

  • Carcinoma (the most common skin cancer often caused by cumulative sun exposure throughout life),
  • Melanoma (the most aggressive and potentially deadly type of skin cancer).

The dangers of UV extend beyond the skin. They can also cause eye problems such as retinal macular degeneration and early cataracts. Moreover, the composition of artificial UV in tanning booths is different from that of sunlight. Exposure to artificial UV, characterized by a high presence of UVA in tanning booths (with UVB limited by regulations), can lead to the appearance of spots, wrinkles, and thinning of the skin, as UVA penetrates the skin more deeply.

💡 Good to know : According to several international studies and meta-analyses, individuals who have used tanning booths at least once before the age of 35 increase their risk of developing cutaneous melanoma by 59%. Cutaneous melanomas represent one of the leading causes of mortality in individuals under 35 years old.

Common misconceptions about artificial UV rays

Misconceptions about artificial UV radiation persist despite current scientific knowledge. It is crucial to dispel these false ideas to raise awareness among the public about the real risks associated with exposure to artificial UV rays.

Artificial UV sessions do not burn the skin : false

Artificial tanning is often presented as safer than sun exposure because it less frequently leads to sunburn, due to lower UVB radiation, and it is not associated with the same intense heat sensation as sunlight, lacking the emission of infrared rays. However, it’s essential to note that a 15-minute session in a tanning booth in France is equivalent to exposure to UV index 12 for the same duration on a Caribbean beach without sunscreen. The UV index expresses the intensity of ultraviolet radiation and the associated health risks: beyond index 10, the risks are extreme.

Artificial tanning prepares the skin for the sun: false

Contrary to a widespread belief, artificial tanning does not prepare the skin for the sun; on the contrary, artificial UV radiation adds to the natural UV radiation from the sun, reinforcing the carcinogenic effect. Artificial tanning does not stimulate the natural production of melanin in the same way as sun exposure. Melanin is the pigment responsible for skin pigmentation, acting as natural protection against UV rays. Artificial UV radiation can result in superficial tanning without providing the same level of protection.


Artificial UV rays provide Vitamin D intake: false

UVB (Ultraviolet B) rays from the sun are responsible for the synthesis of vitamin D in the skin. However, most tanning lamps use UVA (Ultraviolet A) radiation. UVB emissions are sometimes limited or absent to avoid the risk of sunburn, but this also compromises the device’s ability to stimulate vitamin D production.

Therefore, to maintain appropriate vitamin D levels, it is generally recommended to obtain this vitamin from a balanced diet and, if necessary, from dietary supplements, rather than relying solely on exposure to artificial UV radiation.

It is essential to educate about the dangers of excessive exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays, the risks of artificial tanning, and to encourage responsible behaviors to protect long-term skin health, as there is no way to repair the skin from sun damage.

Exposures to artificial UV rays are easily avoidable, and so are their health consequences. A study in 2015 estimated that 83% of melanomas (3% of cancers in France) could be attributed to sun exposure, and 3% to tanning devices..

As a company specialized in environmental intelligence (air, water, noise, pollen, UV), Meersens can play a crucial role in protecting stakeholders from UV pollution:

✅ Calculation and indication of the UV indexthrough environmental modeling based on the intensity of surrounding UV rays in real-time.

✅ Personalized advice and recommendationsbased on exposure and skin phototype.

✅ Alerts in case of excessive exposure

Alternatives for a beautiful, bronzed, and healthy skin

If you absolutely want a sun-kissed complexion while taking care of your skin and avoiding the risks associated with exposure to artificial UV, you might consider safer alternatives. Here are some suggestions:

  • Self-tanners: Use self-tanning lotions to achieve a bronzed complexion without the need to expose yourself to the sun or UV lamps.
  • Makeup: Use makeup products like bronzing powders to achieve a natural glow without exposing your skin to UV rays.
  • Sunscreen: If you want a naturally tan complexion, it’s recommended to spend time outdoors while using adequate sunscreen to prevent skin damage.
  • Natural options: Opt for natural methods to get a warmer complexion, such as consuming foods rich in beta-carotene (carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, pumpkins…), which can give your skin a slightly more golden hue.
  • Sun exposure at the right times: Avoid exposure during peak hours. Sun rays are most intense between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Try to stay in the shade during these hours or limit your sun exposure time

Do you want to leverage UV intensity data to enhance your products, services, and marketing strategies?

Artificial tanning: what dangers for the skin and health?

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