Sunshine University

At Arizona Tanning, we want to ensure that you never sunburn. We believe that education is key to reducing risk, which is why we teach our clients smart tanning practices and sunburn prevention.

Basics of Ultraviolet (UV) Light

Ultraviolet (UV) light is the light that begins the entire tanning process. Sunbeds, like outdoor sunlight, emit UVA (ultraviolet A) and UVB (ultraviolet B) light. UV light is the same whether artificially produced or from the sun. Of the UV light emitted by the sun at noon in the summer in Canada, 95% is UVA, and 5% is UVB.

UVA

is known as the "tanning ray" or "melanin browning ray" 

UVB

is known as the "melanin producing ray" 

When skin is exposed to UVB, melanocytes produce melanin – the pigment ultimately responsible for your tan.

Melanin absorbs UVA light and oxidizes, or darkens, creating a suntan.

Tanning takes place in the skin’s outermost layer: the epidermis. About 5% of the cells in your epidermis are special cells called melanocytes.

How your skin tans

Tanning is your skin’s natural and intended reaction when exposed to UV light. It is what your skin is designed to do to protect itself from sunburn. Ultraviolet light from the sun and from indoor tanning units consists of two main components - UVA and UVB - both of which contribute differently to your tan. Simply put, UVB makes melanin and UVA darkens your tan. Indoor tanning equipment utilizes a carefully formulated and controlled mixture of UVA and UVB, designed to tan you with a minimized risk of sunburn. 

Sunburn Prevention 101

The golden rule of smart tanning is to never sunburn. But how is sunburn different from a suntan? Sunburn is damage on top of your skin’s tan that happens when too much UV light exposure causes tiny blood vessels in your skin called capillaries swell or even burst. It is widely believed that repeated sunburn is a factor for most forms of skin cancer. At Arizona Tanning, our staff are trained to determine the appropriate tanning session length to ensure you never burn.

When your skin burns, blood vessels swell or burst, which means the skin has to commit its resources to repairing that damage. When that happens, the tanning process stops until your skin has repaired itself. That’s why a burn actually slows down the tanning process.

Myth: You must get sunburnt before you get a tan

Fact: Sunburns slow down your tan

Know your Skin Type

The golden rule of UV exposure is to never sunburn, and knowing your Skin Type is the best way to help reduce the risk of overexposure to UV light while enjoying the benefits of moderate exposure. At Arizona Tanning, all new clients must complete a Skin Type Questionnaire so that we can determine an exposure schedule that is suited to you. 

Immediate vs. Delayed Pigment Darkening

Tanning occurs at different rates in different people. People with darker complexions, who naturally have more melanin in their skin, will almost always experience Immediate Pigment Darkening (IPD): the instant and direct darkening of pre-existing melanin that occurs when exposed to ultraviolet rays. People with fair complexions are less likely to experience IPD because they have very little preexisting melanin in their skin.

Delayed Pigment Darkening (DPD), is the full tanning process: UVB triggers melanin production in melanocytes, which then emit melanin to other skin cells where it is oxidized by UVA. This process of producing melanin which can then be tanned can take anywhere from three to 10 days, which means that it can take more than a full week of indoor tanning sessions before a fair-skinned tanner sees any colour development at all. Patience during this period is key to smart tanning.

Low-Pressure Equipment

Low-pressure equipment is the most prevalent type of tanning unit in professional tanning salons throughout the world. Our Corona T40, KBL Pure Energy, and KBL 6800 are all low-pressure units – it’s important to note that low-pressure does not mean low-intensity. 

  • Low-pressure systems generally have 24-60 fluorescent tube lamps mounted behind acrylic

  • The output of these lamps is typically 3-8 percent UVB and 92-97 percent UVA, a range which is similar to summertime sunlight in much of North America

  • Each lamp generates 100-220 watts of tanning power (our Coronas are 100W, while our KBL units are 200W)

High-Pressure Equipment

High-pressure equipment is designed to complement low-pressure tanning. Our Saturn is a high-pressure unit, and our KBL 6800 features high-pressure facial lamps. 

  • High-pressure systems usually have 12-24 smaller, clear-glass quartz lamps that are only about 12 centimetres long and sit behind special filters

  • The output of these lamps is generally around 99 percent UVA, with only a small fraction of UVB in the mix

There’s much more power involved in a high-pressure system. Each lamp generates 400 to 2,000 watts of tanning power, so the system can run very hot. This is why ventilation design and fan usage are critical to keeping the tanner comfortable.

Low-Pressure vs. High-Pressure Tanning

There are two different types of UV tanning lamps used in professional indoor sunbeds – low-pressure lamps and high-pressure lamps, that determine the output of UVA and UVB the sunbed emits. Because Arizona Tanning offers both low-pressure and high-pressure tanning equipment, it's important to know what makes them different and who may benefit from each type of system. 

Which is right for you?

Because UVB triggers melanin production, low-pressure tanning is especially good for fair-skinned tanners who need to build up melanin. UVA darkens melanin, so high-pressure tanning, with more UVA, is especially good for darker-skinned tanners who already have melanin.

This means that high-pressure tanning is suitable for clients with pre-existing melanin in their skin. So, fair-skinned clients or clients who do not have any tan built up already will likely not benefit from the Saturn. Clients with naturally darker skin or clients who have already been building their tan in one of our low-pressure systems will have much greater results in the Saturn, which is why we recommend that the Saturn be used in conjunction with one of our low-pressure systems.

Low Pressure vs. High Pressure Tanning

There are two different types of UV tanning lamps used in professional indoor sunbeds – low-pressure lamps and high-pressure lamps, that determine the output of UVA and UVB the sunbed emits. Because Arizona Tanning offers both low-pressure and high-pressure tanning equipment, it's important to know what makes them different and who may benefit from each type of system.