Sunbeds give out ultraviolet (UV) rays that increase your risk of developing skin cancer (both malignant melanoma and non-melanoma). Many sunbeds give out greater doses of UV rays than the midday tropical sun.
The risks are greater for young people. Evidence shows:
In the UK, it's illegal for people under the age of 18 to use sunbeds. The Sunbeds (Regulation) Act 2010 makes it an offence for someone operating a sunbed business to permit under-18s to:
Sunbeds, sunlamps and tanning booths give out the same type of harmful radiation as sunlight. UVA rays make up about 95% of sunlight.
They can cause your skin to age prematurely, making it look coarse, leathery and wrinkled. UVB rays make up about 5% of sunlight and burn your skin.
A tan is your body's attempt to protect itself from the damaging effect of UV rays. Using a sunbed to get a tan is not safer than tanning in the sun.
It may even be more harmful, depending on factors such as:
Prolonged exposure to UV rays increases your risk of developing malignant melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer.
You cannot always see the damage UV rays cause. The symptoms of skin damage can take up to 20 years to appear.
UV rays can also damage your eyes, causing problems such as irritation, conjunctivitis or cataracts, particularly if you do not wear goggles.
The UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) issued advice on the health risks associated with UV tanning equipment, such as sunbeds, sunlamps and tanning booths.
They recommend you should not use UV tanning equipment if you:
The HSE advice also includes important points to consider before deciding to use a sunbed.
For example, if you decide to use a sunbed, the operator should advise you about your skin type and how long you should limit your session to.
Important: Our website provides useful information but is not a substitute for medical advice. You should always seek the advice of your doctor when making decisions about your health.