Tanning salons may offer a health dose of "sunshine".

Control over your exposure

Indoor tanning allows you to control exactly what kind of ultraviolet light your skin receives, thereby reducing your risk of ever contracting a sunburn. It also allows you to eliminate many other environmental variables that can't possibly be controlled outdoors. Let's look at the differences.

When tanning indoors, a tanner enjoys:

  • Control. You always know exactly what kind of ultraviolet light you are getting and exactly how long you'll be getting it.
  • Convenience. You never have to worry about inclement weather. It's always sunny and warm in your favorite tanning salon.
  • Speed. Depending on your skin, a few quick sessions a week is all it takes to maintain a golden brown tan.
  • Service. Professional indoor tanning salons monitor your progress and advise you on how to properly maintain your tan, reducing your risk of ever contracting a dangerous sunburn.

When tanning outdoors, a tanner is forced to contend with:

  • Seasonality. Depending on the time of year, the sunlight you receive is more or less intense. Gauging how much exposure is too much, depending on the time of year is always difficult.
  • Location. Are you tanning at the beach, where surrounding sand acts as a reflector for ultraviolet light? Are you snow skiing, where the snow has the same effect? Are you in the water, where the UV light penetrates beneath the surface more than you might think? Your surroundings affect the intensity of ultraviolet light when you tan outdoors.
  • Weather conditions. Is it partly cloudy or sunny? Is it overcast completely or raining? A significant amount of ultraviolet light penetrates through clouds, even on an overcast day. But the intensity varies, depending on the cloudiness.
  • The ozone layer. Regular changes in the Earth's outer atmosphere affect the amount of ultraviolet light from the sun that reaches the planets surface. It is virtually impossible to know from day to day how these conditions will change.
  • Worrying about sunburn. Have you ever spent a day outside, only to be surprised at the end of the day by a sunburn? Or maybe you didn't get a sunburn when you expected you should.

All the variables listed here make tanning outdoors a guessing game.