Frequently Asked Questions
An indoor tanning session is equivalent to how many hours in the sun?
One study seemed to indicate that based on very specific controlled factors, a single tanning session is approximately equal to two hours of outdoor sun. However, this is a very controlled study. The fact is that the tanning bed is a relatively stable source in terms of energy output. The sun is a highly unstable source in terms of ultraviolet energy output. Factors that influence the sun's UV exposure are: clouds, pollution, dust in the air, ozone levels, elevation from sea level, geography, the season of the year, and especially the time of day.
How does the tanning process work?
There are 3 main components that go into the tanning process, UVA, UVB, and Oxygen. UVB kick starts the tanning process by stimulating the “tanning cells” (melanocytes) to produce melanosomes, which contain melanin (pigment). UVA then comes in and darkens this melanin that has been produced, before that can happen, melanin needs a certain amount of oxygen to facilitate the work that UVA performs. This oxygen is produced from blood vessels that are beneath and outside of the skin. The amount of melanin a person’s body can produce varies from person to person, to assist in the tanning process it is highly recommended to use lotions specifically designed to boost the tanning process.
I don't seem to tan as good as I used to. Why is that?
The reason is that as we age our body begins to lose melanocytes. This is more prevalent after 40. Not to worry though. Through controlled, systematic exposures you can slowly replenish what your body began to lose.
Why isn't closing my eyes good enough?
Eyelids are not made of UV blocking material. The result is that UV passes through, damaging the cornea, retina and lens. Cumulative long term effects include cataracts and eyelid damage. Always wear eye protection!
What causes white spots?
There are several reasons that a person will begin to develop white spots. One common reason is vitiligo, which is characterized by irregularly shaped white patches of skin, surrounded by dark borders. The white patches are sensitive to UV exposure. Doctors will often use a lotion based form of psoralen (an extremely photosensitizing agent) and induce up to second degree burns on the specific areas. This in effect, reactivates dormant melanocyte cells into producing melanin again. In time the white areas will gradually begin to match the surrounding areas.
Another cause for white spots is a skin fungus known as tinea versicolor. This fungus actually begins in the hair and falls down primarily onto the upper body like dandruff (however, this is not dandruff). The affected areas prevent the skin from tanning and as a result create white spots. Sometimes the spots can be a little scaly. The fungus in tinea versicolor produces an acid that inhibits the production of tyrosinase in your skin's melanocytes, which in turn prevents the production of melanin in the affected areas. Treating tinea versicolor is fairly easy, but recovery may take up to several months. Shampoos like extra strength Selson Blue are very effective at killing the fungus. Properly cleaned tanning equipment, by the way, will not spread tinea versicolor.
The third cause for white spots is caused by how a person lays in the tanning bed. Three areas of the body are affected by how a person lays in the tanning bed: shoulder blades, tail bone area, and the backs of the calves. What happens is that pressure is created on those areas of the body which restricts blood flow. A person needs UVA and UVB in order to tan; however, they also need oxygen (those who sleep in tanning beds often get these white spots). There is a simple way to minimize and even eliminate this condition-- take your right forearm (not your elbow and not the heel of your hand) and the bottom of your right foot and push up gently for a few seconds. This will relieve pressure on the right hand side of your body, allowing your skin to breathe for a few moments. After you have done this, you should lower your right side and raise the left side up the same way.
At Hawaiian TanFastic, we have also found that consistently using a Tingle/Hot Action type lotion can also create white spots. Normally, white spots appear on the stomach area. Although not formally an industry acknowledged reason for the cause of white spots, we have found that temporarily discontinuing the Tingle/Hot Action type lotion the white spots disappear.
What is Photosensitivity and what substances affect it?
Photosensitivity comes from the Latin words 'photo' which means light and 'sensitivus' which means feeling. It is a condition in which skin reacts abnormally to light, especially UV rays or sunlight, due to the presence of medications, hormones, or heavy metals in the human body. Thus, when we identify a substance or a 'photosensitizer' that, in combination with light, will cause a sensitivity reaction, we can take appropriate steps to ensure responsible tanning. Medications such as Psoralen, diuretics, birth control pills, high blood pressure medicine, and antibiotics may also affect photosensitivity. Certain foods such as citrus fruits and celery and cosmetics and soaps can also increase one's level of photosensitivity.