Indoor Tanning

Topics: Ultraviolet, Sun tanning, Human skin color Pages: 9 (3140 words) Published: May 1, 2007
Back in the time of the Renaissance, having skin untouched by the sun was a sign of wealth and sophistication. In today's world, being pale is considered a burden and a sign of unattractiveness. Some cannot help but think that society puts a pressure on the youth of today to be thin, beautiful and most importantly, tan. People with pale skin are looked down upon in society today and thought of as looking sickly and pasty. This is the reason why indoor tanning became so popular, because no one wants to look sickly and almost everyone wants to look tan, like the stars. Indoor tanning is becoming ever more popular and has grown to a 2 billion dollar a year business in the United States and is a strong part of the American small business community (Skin Cancer Foundation). Over time tanning industries have claimed that tanning indoors is harmless and healthy, but many people argue about this. Contrary to what some people think, and would like to believe, indoor tanning is not a healthy alternative to tanning out in the sun. many complications can arise from too much sun exposure, for example, skin cancer. This can be caused by the UV lights in a tanning bed, which proves that they are just as bad for your body as the rays of the sun. Overexposure from tanning can cause serious long term effects on the body.

The machines that created the indoor tanning industry came from Germany and were actually apart of medical research in the 1900's. The first tanning lamp was created in 1906 by a company, Heraeus. This lamp was designed to help patients that suffered from disorders such as rickets (Cool Nurse). This helped patients to acquire stronger bones through larger exposure to vitamin D, produced by sunlight.

Later on in the 1970's, German scientist Friedrich Wolff decided to make a study about athletes and how they benefit from sunlight, he did this by using artificially produced UV light. However, how the athletes were affected by the light did not end up being his focus point. He became more focused on the sun tan that they all had accumulated. Tanned skin at the time was becoming more and more of a fashion statement, and Wolff used this to his advantage in creating the first indoor tanning beds (Cool Nurse). Little did Wolff know that he had created a new industry.

There French celebrity that can be said to have made the change from pale to bronze skin popular is Coco Chanel. Coco Chanel helped change the fashion world in the 1920's by taking part in freeing women from their confining clothing. She also created another trend. While vacationing on the Duke of Westminster's yacht in Paris, she unknowingly arrived home with a suntan (Sikes 6). Attempting to imitate their idols, women around Europe could be found on beaches trying to achieve the perfect glow. As Ruth J. Sikes states in her Journal of Aesthetic Science "[t]he suntan had the symbol of wealth and leisure. A tan in the winter meant the bearer had enough money and status to afford a vacation to an exotic, warm climate" (Sikes 7). This had been the start of a big trend that would soon erupt across the country.

Though tanning is ever more popular in the United States, indoor tanning made its debut in Germany and is government regulated and considered a professional industry all throughout Europe. Tanning beds in the United States were, at first, poorly constructed compared to those being used in Europe. The reason for this is because of the high output of UVB light that was being omitted. When finding out that this type of UV light can cause sunburn and other skin disorders, tanning bed makers started using UVA light. Using this light provided less risk of users getting sunburned when using the bed (Cool Nurse). With some minor adjustments, that bed became the bed that tanners know today.

The idea of indoor tanning uses a clamshell like bed or a capsule like booth that both emit ultraviolet light to darken skin. According to industry estimates,...

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