Mayo Clinic Health Library

Question

Tanning beds: Safer than the sun?

Are tanning beds safer than natural sunlight?

Updated: 06-04-2013

Answer

Tanning beds don't offer a safe alternative to natural sunlight.

Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation damages your skin, whether the exposure comes from tanning beds or natural sunlight. This damage increases the risk of skin cancer and premature skin aging. In fact, tanning beds emit UVA rays — which might increase the risk of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.

If you'd like the golden glow of a tan without exposure to damaging UV radiation, consider using a sunless tanning product. Avoid tanning beds, and use a broad-spectrum sunscreen whenever you're outdoors.