In Sun is Life, Training

This month, let’s start off with a quiz. Without using Google to search and find, answer these five questions:


1. In what skin layer does sunburn occur?

2. True or False: UV from a sunbed penetrates past the subcutaneous skin layer.

3. What layer of the skin is the thickest?

4. True or False: Constitutive skin color is related to the effect of a cosmetic tan.

5. True or False: UV exposure from a sunbed can “cook” internal organs.


The answers are:
1. Epidermis
2. False
3. Dermis
4. False
5. False


How did you do? Well, if you have taken the Sun is Life® Certification course (online or classroom), you probably nailed it.

As I’ve taught certified indoor tanning operator training classes for many years, I’m constantly amazed by the number of folks currently working in salons who can provide their guests with only a slight bit of factual information. For those of you who can, of course, I’m “preaching to the choir.”

Prior to the start of many of my classes, I usually ask attendees if they can briefly describe the tanning process. That’s right, “How do we tan?” One of the more memorable responses I received was back in the mid-90s, from a woman whose hand flew up when I asked the question. She stood up and proudly exclaimed, “Well, you tan naked!” Hey, right you are and you just won a new car!

Seriously, this most basic question is typically met by a lot of hesitation and stammering, followed by an answer with some sort of description like, “The UVs get to your skin,” “the ‘A’ ray gives you more melanin,” “the ‘B’ ray makes it easier to get a tan,” and more of the like.

To clarify, the indoor tanning process can be described as follows: Indoor tanning provides a controlled method for obtaining a cosmetic tan with UV exposures determined by skin type and delivered using a timer system that minimizes the risks of overexposure and sunburn. Most indoor tanning lamps emit a mix of UVA and UVB wavelengths. A minimal amount of UVB is utilized to stimulate the melanin in your skin and combines with UVA wavelengths that can oxidize or produce a browning effect on the epidermis layer of the skin.

In reality, when you can provide factual information about your facility and your services, both your salon guests and your community benefit greatly. I’m talking about information that adheres to both state and federal guidelines for sunbeds and sunlamps, as opposed to information that may have been passed on to you – some of which may be anecdotal. By the way, the last quiz question is based on one of the longest running urban myths in indoor tanning history. You know, the one about the girl who tanned many times in one day and “fried” her liver. Or was it her kidneys? Or, maybe her heart? This myth has tracked our industry at least since I started in the mid-1980s and still surfaces every now and then. Of course, it’s a myth. UV from indoor tanning lamps (and natural sunlight) have sufficient energy to penetrate the epidermis and slightly into the dermis skin layer, but not the subcutaneous layer and certainly not your internal organs. So now, go ahead and check it out with a Google search.

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