An estimated 30 million North Americans – 65% to 70% of them women – turned to tanning salons in 2006 as a controlled alternative to outdoor tanning. In fact, the professional indoor tanning industry promotes responsible indoor tanning and sunburn prevention as “smart.”
Studies consistently have shown that once indoor tanning customers begin tanning in a professional salon, they are less likely to sunburn than they were before they started tanning. Studies have also shown that indoor tanners are less likely to sunburn outdoors as compared to non-tanners
One reason so many people enjoy the professional indoor tanning experience is that trained operators can give a tanner controlled UV exposures to gradually develop natural sunscreen – often called a "base tan" – while minimizing the risk of sunburn. The tanning process actually creates two different forms of natural protection against sunburn:
Melanin pigment produced when UV light meets the skin literally enshrouds and shields skin cells in the skin’s epidermis, protecting each cell from getting too much UV exposure. Melanin is a powerful anti-oxidant, helping the skin naturally eliminate free-radicals that can cause damage.
As the skin tans, the outer layer thickens (a natural process called acanthosis) which is nature’s design to make the skin naturally more resistant to sunburn.