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Tanning saloons can be a significant cause of unnecessary UV damage. Most tanning saloons now use UV-A tubes rather than UV-B tubes, which is a step forward. However, the UVA tubes do emit a small amount of UVB (about 1-2% of the total energy produced), which can be significant with long exposure times. UVA alone is a small contributor to skin cancer risk, but it is an important cause of skin sagging and photoageing.
Tanning saloons sell their product by promoting the advantages of tanned skin: the desirability of a tanned colour, and protection from sunburning when at the beach.
Regarding protection: A tan induced by a tanning parlour provides protection from sunburning approximately equal to a sunscreen with SPF 4. However, the suntan induced by the tanning saloon occurred after the skin was damaged by the ultraviolet light of the UV machine. A much better job is done by a good sunscreen with a high SPF!
The WHO website states that sunbeds damage the skin and unprotected eyes and are best avoided entirely.
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