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Navigating Tanning Bed Laws by State: A Quick Guide

Have you ever considered why some tanning salons always seem to have a full appointment book with spray tans and high-end services while others struggle?0

So, are you calling the shots at a tanning salon or running the show? Keeping up with tanning bed laws by state is more than just a regulatory requirement; it’s about ensuring the safety of your clients and the integrity of your business. Each state has its own set of rules, from age restrictions to consent forms, and navigating through them can seem daunting. But fear not! Let’s break down these rules and make them a bit easier to grasp.

The stakes are high—failing to comply can result in fines and damage your reputation. Let’s explore what you need to know so that you can focus on delivering that golden glow safely at your tanning salon.

Understanding Tanning Bed Laws By State and Regulations

Tanning bed laws and regulations vary from state to state, but they all aim to protect consumers from the potential dangers of indoor tanning. The National Conference of State Legislatures provides a comprehensive overview of these regulations.

Age Restrictions

Many states have implemented age restrictions on indoor tanning, with some banning minors under 18 from using tanning beds altogether. California, for example, has the strictest law in the nation, prohibiting any minor from using a tanning bed, even with parental permission. Gov. Jerry Brown signed the bill, which went into effect on Jan. 1, 2012. In states that allow minors to tan with parental consent, parents or legal guardians must often sign a form acknowledging the health risks and granting permission for their child to use tanning facilities. For example, in Ohio, consent must be given by a parent or guardian in person for an individual under 18 to be permitted to use a tanning bed. There are many different tanning bed laws by state, and each tanning salon owner needs to seriously consider them.

Safety Guidelines

Tanning facilities must follow safety guidelines, such as providing protective eyewear, limiting exposure times based on skin type, and properly maintaining equipment. The FDA classifies tanning beds as “moderate risk” devices and requires them to carry a black box warning stating they should not be used by individuals under 18.

State-by-State Guide to Tanning Bed Laws

Tanning bed laws vary significantly by state, with some states having more stringent regulations than others. Here’s a quick overview of some notable state laws:

  • California, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Minnesota, Nevada, Texas, Vermont, and Washington ban tanning beds for all minors under 18.
  • States like Indiana, Wisconsin, and New York require parental consent for minors to tan indoors.
  • South Carolina and North Carolina have specific regulations for tanning facilities, including operator training and equipment maintenance requirements.
  • Rhode Island, West Virginia, and North Dakota also have comprehensive indoor tanning regulations.
  • Virginia law prohibits minors under 15 from using tanning devices and requires parental consent for those aged 15-17.

You must check your state’s laws and regulations to ensure compliance and protect consumer safety.

Health Risks Associated with Indoor Tanning

Indoor tanning has several health risks, primarily due to exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Here are some of the most significant dangers if not implemented properly:

Increased Risk of Skin Cancer

Studies have shown that indoor tanning increases the risk of developing melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, by 59% for those who begin tanning before age 35. Squamous cell carcinoma risk increases by 67% with indoor tanning use. The American Academy of Dermatology warns that even one indoor tanning session can increase the risk of developing skin cancer if not implemented correctly.

Premature Aging

UV radiation from tanning beds can prematurely age the skin, leading to wrinkles, sagging, and age spots. The Skin Cancer Foundation notes that tanning can also cause the skin to lose elasticity and become leathery in appearance if it is improperly implemented.

Eye Damage

Exposure to UV radiation from tanning beds can cause short-term and long-term eye damage, including photokeratitis (a painful eye condition), cataracts, and even macular degeneration. Proper eye protection during indoor tanning sessions is crucial to minimize these risks.

Tanning Industry Regulations and Oversight

The tanning industry is subject to various regulations and oversight to ensure consumer safety and proper business practices. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) classifies tanning beds and sunlamps as Class II medical devices subject to specific regulations and oversight. In 2014, the FDA reclassified these devices from “low risk” to “moderate risk,” requiring more stringent controls and labeling.

Facility Inspections

Many states require regular inspections of tanning facilities to ensure compliance with safety regulations and proper equipment maintenance. These inspections may be conducted by state or local health departments and result in fines or closures for non-compliant businesses.

Operator Training Requirements

Some states mandate that tanning facility operators receive training on the proper use of equipment, safety procedures, and recognizing potential health issues in customers. This training helps ensure that operators are knowledgeable and can provide a safer tanning experience for their clients.

Protecting Minors from Indoor Tanning Dangers

Minors, whose skin is more sensitive to UV radiation, are particularly vulnerable to the dangers of indoor tanning. Many states have implemented laws and regulations to protect minors from these risks. In states that allow minors to tan with parental consent, parents or legal guardians must often sign a form acknowledging the health risks and granting permission for their child to use tanning facilities. These laws ensure parents are informed about the potential dangers before allowing their children to tan.

Age Verification Procedures

Tanning facilities are typically required to verify customers’ ages using government-issued identification to ensure compliance with state age restrictions. This helps prevent minors from accessing tanning services without proper consent or violating state laws.

Penalties for Non-Compliance

Tanning facilities that violate state laws and regulations may face penalties, including fines, license suspension, or revocation. These penalties serve as a deterrent and help businesses prioritize consumer safety and comply with applicable laws.

Promoting Safe Tanning Practices and Alternatives

While indoor tanning carries inherent risks, there are ways to promote safer practices and alternatives for those seeking a tanned appearance. Tanning facilities must provide customers with protective eyewear that meets FDA standards to minimize the risk of eye damage from UV radiation. Proper eye protection during indoor tanning sessions is crucial to protect the eyes from short-term and long-term damage.

Time Limits

Many states regulate the maximum exposure time allowed per tanning session based on the customer’s skin type and the intensity of the tanning bed. Following these time limits can help reduce the risk of skin damage and burning. Tanning facilities are often required to assess a customer’s skin type and recommend appropriate exposure times to minimize the risk of skin damage. This assessment considers skin color, sensitivity to sunlight, and tanning history. In addition, most states require a 24 UV law prohibiting customers from using UV beds multiple times within this period.

Spray Tanning

Spray tanning offers a safer alternative to UV tanning beds. It involves applying a topical solution that temporarily darkens the skin without exposing it to harmful radiation. Many tanning salons now offer spray tanning services as a healthier option for customers.

Self-Tanning Products

Self-tanning lotions, creams, and foams provide another UV-free alternative for achieving a tanned appearance. These products contain ingredients like dihydroxyacetone (DHA) that react with the skin’s surface to create a temporary tan, allowing consumers to apply the product at home safely. By promoting these safer alternatives and educating consumers about the risks of indoor tanning, we can encourage healthier practices and reduce the incidence of skin cancer and other tanning-related health issues.

Key Takeaway: 


Tanning bed laws by state aim to keep you safe, varying by state with age restrictions and consent requirements. Always check local rules to stay compliant and protect everyone’s health.

Unraveling the Legal Tapestry: Safeguarding Sucess in the Indoor Tanning Industry

We’ve journeyed together through the maze of tanning bed laws by state, discovering how varied yet crucial they are for every tanning salon’s operation. It’s clear now; these aren’t mere hoops to jump through but vital measures to safeguard clients and businesses.

Understanding these laws isn’t just about avoiding penalties—it’s integral to providing quality service in the indoor tanning industry. Remember, staying informed means staying ahead—a beacon for those who value safety as much as sun-kissed skin.

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