The importance of eye protection
Whether tanning in a salon, outdoors, or with your new home tanning bed, eye protection is a must for every session. With this in mind, we are going to explain why this is important, how it works and answer some frequently asked questions, and myths surrounding tanning eye protection.
What is eye protection?
Eye protection is created to protect your vision. When outdoors, this could be your sunglasses. When tanning indoors, this could be your sunbed goggles, or disposable eye protection. This should be worn during every tanning session the entire way through, to avoid affecting your vision.
- Put on your eye protection prior to your tanning session, before the lamps start
- Wear your eye protection the entire session
- Don’t take off your eye protection until the tanning session is over and the lamps have turned off.
The impact not wearing eye protection can have:
Sometimes compared to sunburn, this is a painful temporary eye condition caused by exposure to UV. This affects your corneas and conjunctiva, temporarily damaging them. This can cause pain or redness in the eyes, tearing/watery eyes, blurry vision, swelling, light sensitivity, twitching of the eyelids, gritty sensation in the eyes, a temporary loss of vision or seeing halos, headaches, and colour changes in your vision. These symptoms can last from 6 to 24 hours, and are usually gone within 48 hours.
Also known as “surfer’s eye”, this is a pink, non-cancerous growth that forms over the white of your eye. UV is considered a cause for the development of these growths. Although this is initially a short-term issue, the growths must be removed before they grow over the cornea. This could otherwise scar your cornea, leading to long-term health problems.
Similar to photokeratitis, but for those who have severely overexposed. Serious overexposure risks burning your retina and causing more long-lasting damage. Although this damage is painless, it can cause permanent damage, destroying light-sensing cells and worsening your vision.
A cataract is a clouding of the eye natural lens (the part of the eye that focuses the light we see). UV light, especially UV-B rays, increases your risk for certain types of cataracts. It is estimated 10% of all cataract cases are directly related to UV exposure. These can take years to develop.
This is caused by damage to the retina over time and can be considered one of the leading causes of age-related blindness. Extended periods spent exposed to UV increases this likelihood.
In the way that overexposure and burning can cause long-term skin damage, this is the same for your vision. Leaving eyes unprotected when tanning increases the risk of long-term damage.
Frequently asked questions
I have eyelash extensions, so should I still wear eye protection?
Yes! Although some believe that long eyelashes can be damaged by eye protection, there are options designed with long lashes in mind, such as WinkEase silver. Caring for your lashes and extensions is important, however this should not be to the detriment of your vision.
Can’t I just close my eyes?
Your eyelids are a very thin, delicate layer of skin. These only provide the equivalent of SPF 5 protection for your vision. This isn’t enough for long-term care and protection. This also means you are more likely to scrunch your eyes when tanning, which could cause uneven tan development is skin creases when you squint.
Can I not just cover my face with a towel?
This will not provide enough protection. The same as just closing your eyes, a towel, shirt or material covering will not provide enough protection for your vision. Unlike specially designed eye protection, the towels and shirts also allow light to travel through easily.
How do I use my phone when tanning then?
Although many people enjoy using their phone on a sunbed, this shouldn’t be done if it means that you are not wearing eye protection to view the screen. Your vision should always come first.
Doesn’t eye protection cause tan lines on your face?
Although this is something that is a regular cause for people to snub eye protection, this isn’t true. The delicate eye area doesn’t process tan in the same way that the rest of your body does. What’s more, eye protection is designed to ergonomically only cover the eye. Unlike sunglasses this doesn’t cover more than just your eye, meaning that it won’t cause unsightly lines on your face.
So what should you do to truly avoid facial tan lines?
What a lot of tanners don’t seem to realise is that there are lots of different things that cause patches around the eyes, that isn’t caused by eye protection. So, to ensure you aren’t encouraging an uneven tan, Australian Gold UK have shared some useful tips:
Remove all make up and moisturisers from your face prior to indoor tanning.
A lot of these contain an SPF, so cleaning this off of your face before a sunbed will ensure an even tan. Plus, some cosmetics can magnify UV light’s effect, leading to burning if left on whilst tanning. Alternatively when outdoors, it’s advised that you apply a layer of sun cream over the top of SPF moisturisers. Although some cosmetics provide sun protection, when sunbathing this doesn’t cut it.
Be careful with your application of tanning lotions.
As many lotions contain bronzers, if they’re not applied carefully to the face, this is setting the delicate eye area up for failure. Just because this skin lacks melanin, does not mean that it is immune to the effects of natural bronzers and DHA! If bronzers are applied here, this will leave you with unnatural-looking dark circles.
Use different types of goggle or sunglasses.
Varying the size of eyewear can be seen as the facial version of changing swimsuits to prevent tan lines.
Adjust goggles or sunglasses during sessions.
Whilst ensuring that eyes remain covered throughout a sunbed or whilst sunbathing, moving these slightly mid-session will avoid nose bridges from causing any lines.
Accept that sunglasses are a major contributor to any tan lines on the face.
Wearing sunglasses is important for protecting eyes from natural sunlight, however the size of glasses will correspond to the tanned and pale areas on your face, as they inhibit UV from reaching the skin covered by glasses. The smaller the sunglasses, the smaller the panda eye area.
Understand that the delicate skin surrounding the eye does not tan like the rest of the face anyway.
It is unrealistic to believe that eyelids will bronze as deeply as cheeks and the nose. The skin is a lot thinner and contains less melanin.