Myth No. 1: Artificial tanning is safer than sun exposure.

Tanning beds emit rays that are three to five times more intense than those of the midday sun. Tanning lamps produce enough UVB rays to cause burns. Moreover, contrary to long-held belief, UVA rays are not less dangerous than UVB rays and are also carcinogenic.

Myth No. 2: Just before going on vacation, it is necessary to get a base tan to prevent sun damage.

Artificial or even natural tanning does not provide effective protection against sunburn during vacations in the South. Tanning equates only to a sun protection factor (SPF) of 2 to 3, which means that one gets sunburned upon arriving at their dream destination. The best protection involves using common sense by applying a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30, wearing a hat and long sleeves, and staying in the shade. Not to mention that using a tanning bed before the age of 30 increases the risk of melanoma by 75%. And the more one tans, the higher the risk increases.

Myth No. 3: Artificial tanning is necessary to ensure a sufficient intake of Vitamin D.

Vitamin D is synthesized by skin exposed to UVB rays, while tanning lamps primarily emit UVA rays. Moreover, it is not necessary to tan, let alone get sunburned, to obtain a sufficient dose of Vitamin D. Moderate exposure during a walk provides a good amount of Vitamin D, and this vitamin is also found in foods such as certain dairy products, eggs, fish, etc. In Canada, the Vitamin D present in food generally covers the needs.

Myth No. 4: Tanning isn't as bad for teenagers and young adults.

Tanning for teenagers and young adults is even more dangerous than for adults. Studies show that the risk of melanoma increases by 75% when exposure to tanning lamps begins before the age of 30.

People with fair skin, blue eyes, red or blonde hair, or freckles often have difficulty tanning. Their skin easily burns and tends to develop brown spots. However, all skin types are damaged by excessive sun exposure. Tanning is not good for health. It causes premature skin aging, wrinkles, and brown spots, and can trigger skin cancer.

Myth No.5: Twenty minutes on a tanning bed is equivalent to twenty minutes in the sun...

In fact, twenty minutes of exposure to sun lamps is equivalent to two hours on a beach at midday sun without protection. Tanning salons bombard the skin with UVA rays that are three to five times more intense than the sun. Now, you understand why skin protection is in vogue.

Myth No. 6: Tanning beds are designed to emit UV rays that prevent premature skin aging.

Your skin will age more rapidly if you expose it to sun lamps, as these UVA rays, which are responsible for skin aging, have an intensity three to five times greater than that of sunlight.

Myth No. 7: Sun damage is temporary. If we take a break between sun exposures, the skin fully recovers.

The damaging effects of the sun accumulate over time. Even if superficial skin damage such as redness or sunburn disappears, the underlying damage remains. A cancer can take from 10 to 30 years to appear after repeated exposure. The younger you are, the greater the risks.

Myth No. 8: Artificial tanning does not cause skin cancer.

The link between exposure to UV rays (UVA and UVB) and skin cancer has been known for a long time. Cases of skin cancer, particularly melanoma, are increasingly occurring in younger individuals. Using artificial tanning beds before the age of 35 increases the risk of developing melanoma by 75%. Sunburns increase the risk of developing skin cancer. Just 12 artificial tanning sessions per year are enough to increase the risk of skin cancer.

Myth No. 9: Indoor tanning is safer than sun tanning.

Some artificial tanning enthusiasts argue that because tanning devices primarily use UVA light, tanning in this manner is safer than lying in the sun. This is not true. While we used to think that UVA light only caused skin aging, we now know that its longer wavelength penetrates deeper into the skin and is strongly linked to melanoma. A study of 63 women diagnosed with melanoma before the age of 30 found that 61 of them (97%) had used tanning beds. A single visit to the tanning salon significantly increases your chances of developing a cancer that can kill you. There is nothing safe about it.

Myth No. 10: Artificial tanning is a safe, effective, and less expensive alternative to doctor-supervised phototherapy.

People in the tanning industry may tell customers that doctors put people in their light boxes because they are therapeutic for psoriasis and other skin conditions. First and foremost, it's important to understand that the machines used in tanning salons have nothing in common with the light boxes we have today in medical offices. And we use them much less than before due to new treatments like biologic drugs.

Today, many dermatologists use the excimer laser or what we call narrowband UVB for psoriasis, and we only treat the skin plaques, not necessarily the entire body. The doctor limits the dose and shields the rest of the body with sunscreen or protective sheets and clothing. If it involves the whole body, it's usually because a person is severely affected by psoriasis and may not be able to be exposed to biologic drugs, has a history of tuberculosis, is immunocompromised, or has other medical issues. We know that using narrowband UVB for treatment could cause other problems later on, such as skin cancer. It's a trade-off. And patients sign an informed consent that they understand.

Myth No. 11: Only sun worshippers can get skin cancer.

MYTH: Excessive sun exposure only happens when one deliberately seeks to tan. In an environment with high UV levels, such as in France during the summer, we can be exposed to dangerous levels of UV radiation during any daily activity, such as outdoor work, gardening, walking the dog, or having a picnic. This sun exposure accumulates over time, increasing the risk of skin cancer.


  • COIFFARD L. J. M. & al. Demonstration of the dangerous nature of 'homemade' sunscreen recipes. Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology (2021).


Understand your skin
and its complex needs.