22nd June 2018
Wow, are sunbeds emotive.
No, not the ones that Thomas Cook now allows you to book in advance so there's no more running down with the towel early doors on hols to ensure your spot, I mean the electric ones in salons.
A couple of times each year the tabloids run a story with headlines such as "Sunbeds Can Double The Risk of Cancer", or - more bizarrely - "Does Going On A Sunbed Make You Want a Tattoo?" (answer, no, it's not the sunbed, it's whether you fancy a tattoo that makes you get a tattoo). But the truth is, we all have strong opinions about sunbeds and I thought we ought to explore further.
The other truth is that, in the nature of full disclosure, my mate works at The Sunbed Association which is the trade association for reputable salon owners and sunbed manufacturers. She's always exasperated at how she flies back with responses to media requests either to have them ignored or misquoted or not fully explained. To be honest, I didn't really pay that much attention (because she would say that wouldn't she), but a few years ago we were on holiday in the one hot week of the year in Bude.
Me, with my lily-white skin, which is a source of much mirth in my family where my super power is as "Luminosity Girl" meaning that as I disrobe on a beach everyone reaches for their shades because of the enormous reflection of Sun off my very, very white skin, which means light reflects from my body like brilliant laser rays that do nothing but make people point and stare at the very, very luminescent woman. If we were in Jane Austen days, I'm just saying I'd be a beauty. Damn Coco Chanel for making suntans popular...
Back to Bude.
So, we're on the beach but we've hired a beach hut to protect said pale skin and me and Gill are on the porch, sipping the end-of-day vino. She turns to me as we watch everyone leave the beach and asks me to look at them. There they are, lobster-red, towels strategically placed over shoulders too late and she says "Don't tell me that sunbeds aren't better than this. Almost everyone of them has sun damage and you never read about that in the papers."
And she's right.
Across hundreds of beaches people do the same thing every day.
Why do we find sunbeds so difficult and yet burning on the beach "part of the holiday"? You never see articles saying "500 muppets burnt themselves on the beach in Bude today risking future melanomas" do you? But that's exactly what burning your skin in the Sun could move you towards.
So, that's why I decided to do the podcast which you can hear HERE .
Gill and I talked about the Sun v sunbeds and what it means and while the long version is definitely worth hearing, here's the ten things I learnt:
1. Sunbeds should be seen as a professional dose of UV light. In my mind that means a professional dose of sunbathing, but that's not Gill's words. As such, that's why you need to go to a really top salon so that if you want a professional dose of sun, it is administered by people who are trained in what you should have and care a bit (Gill would say care a lot).
2. The Sunbed Association (TSA) completely gets that if you are professionally being provided with UV light, you want advice, you want the right dose, you want the right frequency of visits. They want to ensure this. This is not what happens on the beach when you have no idea of the strength of the Sun at any given time and it is you and me deciding what is right (probably too late at that and all).
3. What you need is 15 minutes in the Sun. At midday. With NO sunscreen. That's your max time not to burn, to get your Vitamin D dose which is essential for good health and to feel generally quite hot and bothered if you're me.
4. Australia has a problem. Their bit of the Ozone layer is screwed. This means that wayyy more UV rays come through over there so you need to be really, really careful as it's far easier to burn there. Did not know that.
5. The Sunbed Association is all for salons being licensed. They'd love it. The reason it doesn't happen is that councils are often too stretched on resources to bother with this. To be fair, it must be pretty low down put against housing, poverty etc. However, it would be great for all. Westminster licenses sunbed salons as do some other councils, but not many.
6. So, so sorry about this one, I know how it sounds, but Liverpool has some of the laxest salons. Apparently there are masses of sunbed salons in Liverpool but not many that take up TSA guidelines because, guess what, they require more money in terms of investment, staff training etc. It's price driven and we all know that as a general rule the less you pay... just don't go to non-TSA regulated salons, it's likely not worth it and they are not all the same.
7. If you're in a salon check that they are a member of the TSA. If someone like me isn't turned away that's very poor.
8. Bulbs - if you're in a salon look for bulbs on the bed that are 0.3 WM2 - these are the correct bulbs for regulated tanning
9. The 40+ woman needs to hydrate skin after tanning a lot. We are losing our moisture and tanning is a drying process so slather on both the after sun and the body lotion for a few weeks.
10. The Sunbed Association can be found at www.sunbedassociation.org.uk where there is a salon finder for your area and a wealth of articles for you to find out more. They address issues head on so do read their press release section as well.
Sunbeds are merely a professional dose of UV
Use the Sun wisely if you don't fancy sunbeds
Only go to highly reputable salons which is what the TSA has always promoted
Don't make your decision based on price
TSA would ask you to look for a member salon as they are internally regulated
If you have any moles or other skin issues get them checked out, whatever caused them
We talk much more about Melanoma on the Podcast
To me, are sunbeds a villian? No, same old, moderation in everything.
Until next time!