The day sunbed studios were reopened was a happy one for all the tanning enthusiasts. Eventually all the benefits and joys of getting a tan and using skin-pampering products became available. However, still it is highly significant to remember about the safety rules when using sunbeds.
Some of the most frequently asked questions, asked by both beginners and advanced tanners, are as follows:
- Should I protect my face/eyes/moles and birthmarks when I use sunbeds?
- How should I protect my sensitive body parts?
- Does protection depend on the tanning session duration?
- What will happen if I don't protect these body parts?
As the experts in the tanning business, we never leave your questions unanswered. For this reason we decided to create a series of articles focusing on your doubts and needs when it comes to indoor tanning. Here comes the first one - eye protection.
"I have never worn eye protecting goggles. I just close my eyes but I open them quite often to see what my skin looks like. So far nothing bad happened to me, I have never had any problems with my eyes or burns."
The internet is full of entries and comments like the one above. But is it reasonable to act irresponsibly just because someone didn't experience any negative consequences?
Skin on our eyelids is the thinnest on our body and is highly prone to burns. We do hope it is obvious for you that wearing eye protection, such as eye covers or goggles, is indispensable during every tanning session.
Adverse Effects - Complications
It is often the case that tanners who ignore the staff's advice and do not protect their eyes properly become patients with severe eye-area ailments. Some of them are:
- Visual disturbances (cloudy eyes)
- Eye lacrimation
- The uncomfortable feeling of having sand in your eyes (which can be the result of damaged cornea and its "snippets" still present in the eyeball)
- (sun)burned eyelids and skin around eyes
- Conjunctivitis (its symptoms being hyperemia, searing, intense eyes lacrimation)
- Increasing the cataract progression
We need to bear in mind that a human eye isn't able to create melanin cells itself, thereby - in contrast to skin - eyes cannot protect themselves against radiation.
Taking into account the above consequences (and the fact that we enlisted just some of them), it appears clear how important it is to protect your eyes when we use sunbeds.
"Closing my eyes is not enough?"
Definitively not. Human eyelid is able to hold back only about 25% of UV radiation - the remaining amount reaches the eye and can cause irritations or even more serious damages.
Many tanners skip wearing eye protection (goggles, stickers or disposable covers) for fear of having white spots (a kind of the reverse panda effect) around their eyes.
Is there anything we can do about it?
The first step to avoid such an effect is careful makeup removal. Some of the makeup products we use, mainly foundations and concealers, contain SPFs. Therefore, if they are not removed properly, unwanted white spots may appear on your skin after the tanning session.
Secondly, it is important to adjust the covers or goggles properly. It should be done in a way that they cover only the eyelid area and as little as possible skin around your eyes. When you pay attention to this, you minimize the risk of white spots.
Covering your face with a towel
You may think that covering your face with a towel is enough to sufficiently protect your eyes. The truth, however, is that a towel placed on any body part can reduce the radiation only in an amount comparable to 5 SPF. This means that using a fabric of a towel or a cloth still does not constitute the necessary eye protection.
"Okay, but I've got my sunglasses"
First of all, sunglasses - as the name suggests - should be used outdoors, when we sunbath. Secondly, the sunglasses-shaped white spots will never look pretty on your face. Nevertheless, it is advised to put on glasses when you leave the tanning studio. Eyes can be oversensitive, even if the contact with UV lamps radiation lasts just for a short time.
What about the contact lenses?
Contact lenses should be taken off before the sunbed session. It may cause an obstacle to blood and air circulation and in the eyeball, thereby leading to irritations.
Please remember that even if the contact lenses are equipped with protective filters, still only the central part of the eye is protected during the sunbed session and the area around eyes is at risk of being damaged.
The key is acting wisely and paying special attention to protecting your eyes before tanning. There are two ways to do it when you wear contact lenses:
- take off the contact lenses and put on the protective goggles for 100% safety
- don't take the contacts on and put the goggles on; however, in this case don't forget to apply moisturizing eye drops before tanning and right after the tanning session; the circulation of warm air in the sunbed may cause eyelens dryness, often resulting in eye irritations
The question which is asked quite frequently concerns the goggles color, namely: does their color matter when it comes to the protection efficiency? The answer is no. Eye protective goggles work with the same efficiency irrespectively of their color.
Nonetheless, what needs to be noted, is their storage and hygiene. If you own a pair of goggles, please remember to keep them in a clean (for example plastic) bag and clean the goggles regularly. There's no need to overdo with medical sanitizing but the goggles should not be washed in hot water or placed in a microwave since this could cause the plastic parts to distort and disrupt their functionalities. Carrying the goggles inside a bag or a backpack can increase the risk of bacteria presence and, as a result, lead to irritations and their complications when using sunbeds.