Tanning and your health
The sun, UV and tanning
The sun supplies various types of energy. Visible light enables us to see, ultraviolet (UV) light
gives us a tan and the infrared (IR) light in sunlight provides the heat in which we like to bask.
UV and your health
In moderation UV radiation can have a positive effect on the skin and overall health. Therefore,
it is important to follow the recommendations concerning exposure durations, exposure
intervals and distances from the lamp.
UV-radiation can cause skin or eye damage that may be irreversible. These biological effects
depend upon the quality and quantity of the radiation as well as the skin sensitivity of the
The skin may develop sunburn after overexposure. Excessively repeated exposures to
ultraviolet radiation from the sun or tanning appliances may lead to premature ageing of the
skin as well as increased risk of development of skin tumors. These risks increase with
increasing cumulative UV exposure. Exposure at an early age increases the risk of skin damage
later in life.
Certain medical conditions or side effects of certain medicines may be aggravated by UV
exposure. In case of doubt, seek medical advice
Tanning sessions: how often and how long?
Safe tanning means, among other things: allowing your skin to get used to the UV radiation. A
tanning program usually consists of a course of ten exposures. You can determine the duration
of each exposure by referring to the column for your skin type in the table below.
You do not necessarily have to follow this table when sunbathing, it acts as a guide. However,
do monitor the way your skin reacts as this is the real indicator. Limit the exposure time to
avoid getting a sunburn (skin erythema). If erythema appears hours after any exposure, it is
advised to cease tanning for one week and restart the exposures from the beginning of the
Instead of following a program, you could also opt to use a tanning appliance every now and
then to maintain your tan. It is important, though, that you do not exceed the maximum
recommended number of sessions per year.
● For this appliance, the maximum is 20 tanning hours (=1200 minutes) a year.
Of course, the maximum number of tanning hours applies to each separate part or side of the
body that is tanned (e.g. the back and front of the body).
Note: Allow at least 48 hours between the first and second exposure. If unexpected side effects, such
as itching, occur within these 48 hours, medical advise should be sought before continuing with the
Suppose you take a 10-day tanning course, with an 8-minute session on the first day and a
20-minute session on the nine following days.
The entire course then lasts (1 x 8 minutes) + (9 x 20 minutes) = 188 minutes.
In one year you can take 6 of these courses, as 6 x 188 minutes = 1128 minutes.
As is shown in the table, the first session of a tanning course should always last 8 minutes,
irrespective of the sensitivity of the skin. If you think that the sessions are too long for you (e.g.