To the skincare obsessives among us, it may seem hard to believe that sunbeds still exist – and that people regularly book in to use them.
The tanning machines emit ultraviolet (UV) rays at very close proximity to the skin in order to stimulate the production of melanin and therefore resulting in a tan. But the rays are often stronger than those of tropical midday sun, and are unsurprisingly very dangerous and damaging to the skin.
In fact, using sunbeds has been proven to increase your risk of developing skin cancer – both malignant melanoma, which can spread to other areas of the body, and non-melanoma, which is slowly develops in the upper layers of the skin.
Activist and ex-tanner, Jay Allen, knows the perils of using sunbeds all too well. “Ten years ago, I noticed a mole on my ankle,” he says. “I thought it was sometime to do with my boots rubbing on my skin.”
At the time, Jay was a truck driver in Australia. His long hours meant he never went outside during the day, so he would turn to sunbeds for a tan.
It was a melanoma. Jay underwent surgery, a groin dissection operation and interferon therapy – a dramatic treatment that uses an artificial version of one of the body’s own proteins that boosts the immune system, and can have seriously unpleasant side effects.
How to find the right sun protection for your skin (and hair)
Thankfully, Jay received the all-clear after intensive treatment and has since campaigned tireless to get sunbeds banned in his home country and now he’s helping to do the same in the UK.
Like with smoking, it is currently illegal to administer the use of sunbeds to anyone under the age of 18, and any company offering the use of sunbeds has a legal responsibility to provide information of the risks associated with it.
In the UK, melanoma kills 6 people every day. If you would like to see the ban of commercial sunbeds, you can sign this petition. In the meantime, why not check our roundup of the best fake tans to get your glow on without the damage?
Don’t forget to protect yourself from the sun itself with these tried-and-tested sun creams.
And if you’re worried about a mole, read about the alphabet mole check guide everyone needs to know, not forgetting to book an appointment with your GP if you’re worried.